Heroin vs. cocaine… how are they different? Which is more dangerous? 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.
Heroin Vs. Cocaine: Which is More Dangerous?
Both heroin and cocaine are highly addictive drugs that can cause serious physical, psychological, and social harm. However, the risks associated with each drug vary drastically. Generally speaking, cocaine is considered more dangerous than heroin due to its high risk of overdose and the potential for long-term cognitive damage.
Heroin is an opioid drug made from the poppy plant. It is usually injected, snorted, or smoked and produces an intense rush of euphoria. However, it can also cause severe withdrawal symptoms when users stop taking the drug. Heroin overdose can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug made from coca leaves. It is usually snorted or injected. Because of its fast-acting effects, it is considered more addictive than heroin and can lead to serious medical problems such as stroke or heart attack. Cocaine also carries an increased risk of overdose due to the rapid increase in tolerance that occurs with regular use.
Both heroin and cocaine can cause serious health risks and long-term damage. However, cocaine is generally more dangerous due to its high risk of overdose and potential for long-term cognitive impairment. It is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is using either of these drugs.
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
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.
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