Tag: heart failure

The Disturbing Physical Side Effects of Cocaine Addiction

These Aren’t For the Faint of Heart

lines of cocaine powder

We’ve all heard the horror stories of what cocaine can do to our bodies. Things like perforated septums, sudden heart attacks, abscesses due to missed injections, and everything associated with smoking crack are common talk about among recovering addicts.

Well it looks like two more topics are about to be added to our conversations. According to two recent articles, palatal perforation and a gruesome heart condition can also be caused by extended cocaine use.

Both stories come from the UK, which has long been a hotbed of cocaine use, abuse, and addiction…certainly no more than the United States though. So, while us U.S. residents may take some small relief in the fact that these are English issues, for now, we can’t celebrate too much.

Read on to learn about the disturbing new physical side effects of long-term cocaine addiction.

A Hole in the Roof of Your Mouth

Palatal perforation is exactly what it sounds like – developing a hole in the roof of your mouth.

While heavy cocaine use has long been associated with contributing to holes in our nasal cavities, palatal perforation is a relatively new phenomenon.

Actually, that’s not 100% true. It may have been around for a long time, but is only coming to our attention now. We don’t know because this condition has a lot of stigma associated with it.

Think about it like this – if you develop a perforated palate due to cocaine abuse, you’re going to have significant trouble drinking, speaking, and eating. That’s fairly embarrassing and probably not something you’re going to be keen to speak about.

hole in mouth from cocaine abuse

How does someone develop a hole in the roof of their mouth? Well, it all has to do with cocaine’s vasoconstriction properties. This is when cocaine actually constricts and shrinks blood vessels, which, ironically, is what makes it an incredibly effective local anesthetic.

When cocaine cuts off the supply of blood to a certain area, say the roof of your mouth, it also deprives that area of oxygen. This, in turn, causes tissue to begin to shrink and die.

Over time, this leads to a hole in the area in question.

Okay, that’s more than a little disturbing. Still, it’s nothing compared to what’s next.

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An Enlarged & Still Beating Heart

What to know what 15 years of heavy cocaine abuse does to your heart? Then watch this video. A quick warning though – it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s as disturbing as anything we’ve ever seen.

heart issues due to cocaine addiction

Okay, recovered yet? Let’s explore just what was going on there.

First, the heart was around three times as large as a normal, healthy heart. That alone is alarming. Doctors are theorizing the increase in size is due to, once again, cocaine’s vasoconstriction properties.

Basically, because cocaine constricts blood vessels, the heart has to work harder than ever to pump and supply the body with blood. This may have led it to grow over many years.

Okay, next is the fact that the heart beats for 25 minutes after being removed from the user’s body. A healthy heart is expected to beat for up to one minute after being removed. This one beat for 25 times that long.

The CEO of MEDspiration, a “non-profit organisation specialising in the art of medicine and science” and the company that produced the video, thinks the prolonged beating may be thanks “to the adaptation the heart cells underwent due to long-term cocaine abuse.”

He goes on to explain,

“It is possible that this heart had become so adapted to myocardial ischemia [reduced blood flow to the heart] over the past 15 years that it became resilient enough to beat without an oxygen supply for 25 minutes!” (Mirror)

That’s some scary stuff!

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful neither of these happened to me. I’ve been in recovery for a bit over seven years. Before that, I used cocaine frequently.

I could have developed either palatal perforation or done significant damage to my heart. I didn’t. Thank God for that.

What do you think of these two new conditions? Let us know on social media.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Inhalants on the Brain

The Deadly Effects of Inhalants

What Do Inhalants Do?

When someone huffs computer duster, does whip-its or any other inhalant, the effect on the brain is immediate, intense, and short-lived. The user feels drunk or dizzy, is unable to concentrate, and isn’t able to speak properly. The user may also hallucinate, black out, or even die. Inhalants can cause hostility, headaches, and rashes. Inhalant use can also cause sudden death when the chemical replaces oxygen in the lungs, essentially suffocating the individual.

Over time, the effects of inhalants on the user’s body adds up.[1] Long-term effects of inhalant abuse and addiction include:

-Muscle weakness

-Disorientation

-Loss of coordination

-Irritability

-Depression

-Brain damage

-Memory loss

-Hearing loss

-Bone marrow damage

-Heart failure

Long-term inhalant use has also been shown to damage the lungs, liver, and kidneys.

effects of inhalants

Why Inhalants Are so Dangerous

At their very core, inhalants work by depleting the body of oxygen. What makes inhalants so dangerous, beyond the numerous side effects, is that they’re accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

A can of hairspray, whipped-cream, glue, gasoline, paint thinner, household chemicals…all of these can be huffed. For a group of kids who’re mildly bored, huffing glue might start to sound like an okay idea. This is especially true when they’ve found information about the high they produce on the internet.

Read about other legal gateway drugs like Kratom and Kava

The Real Short-Term Effects of Inhalants

What’s actually going on when someone huffs is hypoxia (the medical term for when the body is depleted of oxygen). Oxygen doesn’t just allow us to breathe, it keeps our brain functioning. Hypoxia is particularly damaging to the hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for memory.

The effects of inhalants over a period of time can destroy myelin (the tissue that protects nerves). Nerves carry messages throughout our body and brain. When you couple hypoxia with the destruction of myelin, well, it’s no wonder that huffing damages basic motor functions like walking and talking.

Read about the dangerous effect of alcohol and “Wet Brain”

Why the Long-Term Effects of Inhalants are Often Overlooked

Inhalants abuse is tricky because they’re often viewed differently than drugs. A normal parent doesn’t look at a can of whipped-cream and see a heroin addict, but the reality is that inhalant abuse often leads to other drug abuse. Even if it never leads elsewhere, inhalant addiction itself is deadly.

The reality of huffing is that it can kill you. Sudden Death Syndrome (often called Sudden Sniffing Death Syndrome) and the short and long-term effects of inhalant use make them just as dangerous as any street drug.

The insanity of inhalant abuse lies in the short-term high. Within moments of getting high, the user has to start inhaling again. In doing so, users continually increases the amount of oxygen depleting chemicals in their body. The brain damage caused by such intense use is often irreversible. Inhalants are one of many drugs that need increased awareness as to their potential for harm and addiction.

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[1] http://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/inhalants/effects.html

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