Posted on July 5, 2017 in Addiction

Cocaine vs. Heroin Signs and Symptoms

Cocaine and heroin are two of the world’s most well-known addictive drugs. However, they belong to different classes of substances and have markedly different effects on your brain and body. Let’s examine some of the key distinctions between cocaine signs and symptoms and heroin signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Use

Cocaine belongs to a class of mind-altering substances called stimulants. These substances produce most of their effects by speeding up the normal rate of activity in your central nervous system, which includes your brain and spinal cord. Short-term signs and symptoms of cocaine use include:

  • Dilation of your pupils
  • A spike in your normal heart rate
  • A spike in your normal blood pressure
  • A spike in your normal body temperature
  • An extremely energized physical state
  • An unusually restless mental state
  • A spike in your normal level of alertness
  • An unusually paranoid mental state
  • An unusually irritable mental state
  • Abnormal sensitivity to sounds, light and physical contact, and
  • Muscle tremors

Potential long-term effects of using cocaine include:

  • Frequent nosebleeds (linked to nasal use)
  • A declining ability to detect smells (linked to nasal use)
  • Increased risks for contracting hepatitis (linked to IV use)
  • Increased risks for contracting the HIV virus (linked to all forms of use), and
  • Advanced bowel damage (linked to oral use)

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Use

Heroin belongs to a class of mind-altering substances called opioids. These substances produce most of their effects by slowing down the normal rate of activity in your central nervous system. Short-term signs and symptoms of heroin use include:

  • Skin flushing (i.e., warmth and redness)
  • Lack of moisture in your mouth
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Unusual heaviness in your upper and lower extremities
  • Declining mental clarity, and
  • Intermittent lapses into semi-consciousness

Potential long-term effects of the drug include:

  • Skin abscesses
  • Chronic gastrointestinal problems
  • Kidney malfunctions
  • Liver malfunctions
  • Vein collapses, and
  • Heart infections

Overlapping Issues

Both cocaine and heroin produce an extreme form of pleasure called euphoria, a fact that goes a long way toward explaining their addictive potential. In addition, excessive use of either drug can lead to a potentially fatal overdose. (It’s worth noting that even habitual cocaine users can experience overdoses when consuming smaller amounts of the drug, as well.) It’s important to seek treatment for cocaine use or treatment for heroine use before suffering fatal or long-term consequences.

Resources

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Cocaine – Drug Facts https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine

National Institute on Drug Abuse: Heroin – Drug Facts https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration: Drugs of Abuse https://www.getsmartaboutdrugs.gov/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/drugs-of-abuse_508_2015%20Edition.pdf#page=38

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