Cocaine is made from the leaves of the South American coca plant. Though it was used historically for medicinal purposes, it is a Schedule II drug, which means it has a high potential for abuse. Cocaine is a stimulant, and users report intense energy and focus while using cocaine. It comes as a white powder that can be snorted, smoked, or injected.
Because cocaine is a stimulant, key receptors in the brain become active, and you may have more energy and feel an intense sense of euphoria. Tolerance develops quickly if you use cocaine; this leads to using more of the drug more frequently. Using cocaine can be deadly as it may cause strokes, brain hemorrhages, or heart attacks.
Long-term use can lead to nasal damage if you snort the drug, chronic nosebleeds, and bowel infection, and death of bowel tissue due to decrease blood flow to the bowel.
If you are pregnant and using cocaine regularly, your baby may be born addicted and experience withdrawals. If you are pregnant, consider speaking with your obstetrician, who can direct you to help.
Crack cocaine is made from cocaine, and it is a stimulant. This highly addictive solid form of cocaine is processed and resembles a small rock. The intensity of the high creates a physical and mental compulsion to continue using the drug and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, or even seizures.
Crack produces an immediate short-term high when it is smoked, leading to a compulsion to continue using it. The long-term impacts are similar to cocaine, as are the effects of crack use during pregnancy.
Crystal Meth is an extremely addictive stimulant that is chemically similar to amphetamines (legally prescribed). This drug impacts the central nervous system, and you feel an overwhelming rush of energy and good feelings from the first time you use it. This is because dopamine floods the parts of your brain that control pleasure, and this rush often causes people to begin daily use almost immediately after first use.
This drug has no legal uses and can look like a shiny rock or glass fragment. It can be snorted, injected, or smoked. It’s possible to overdose on meth if your body temperature rises too high; also, psychosis is likely due to lack of sleep. Other short-term effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate. Chronic use of crystal meth can lead to severe dental problems (meth mouth), delusions, paranoia, and sores due to constant scratching. If you share needles, you are at risk of Hepatitis C and HIV, the virus which leads to AIDS.
Fentanyl is a potent Schedule II opioid similar to morphine but 50 to 100 times more powerful. While it has legitimate medical uses, it is responsible for multiple overdose deaths across the country. It’s commonly with other drugs such as heroin, crack cocaine, counterfeit pills, and more. It’s impossible to visually tell if fentanyl is mixed with other drugs, which leads to an increase in the risk of overdosing and the risk of dying.
For some, fentanyl is a drug of choice even with the dangers associated with its use because it can be difficult to obtain heroin or other opiates. Like most opioids, fentanyl provides a feeling of euphoria as it acts on the dopamine receptors in your brain.
Short-term effects include confusion, slurred speech, decreased concentration, and potential for overdose. Repeated use of fentanyl can cause brain damage and a reduction in brain mass because your brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen while using the drug.
Heroin is a highly addictive opioid made from opium poppy plants that produce an intensely pleasurable feeling for users. In addition to its addictive nature, heroin users are at risk of an overdose by taking too much, resulting in death or permanent injury. It can be smoked, snorted, or injected intravenously.
Short-term health effects include slowed respiration, nausea, and vomiting. Long-term effects can consist of collapsed veins for intravenous (IV) users, abscesses at injection sites, heart infections, liver and/or kidney disease.
The reality of death from an overdose cannot be understated. This can happen when you take too much, or you take heroin that has been mixed or cut with unknown substances. No matter how you take the drug, IV, snorting, or smoking, you are at risk of overdose. Signs of an overdose include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Bluish skin tone from lack of oxygen, especially around lips and fingernails.
- Choking sounds
- Nonresponsive to light or sound