Whether it’s snorted, smoked, or injected, cocaine enters the bloodstream and starts affecting the brain in a matter of seconds.

But the high is short-lived, and in most cases lasts anywhere from five to 30 minutes.

Regular, heavy use can have extremely negative consequences, from nosebleeds to permanent lung damage and even death.

Here’s a look at some of the ways cocaine affects the body and brain.

Cocaine starts affecting the brain in seconds — and the high can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

Cocaine starts affecting the brain in seconds — and the high can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes.

If you inject or smoke it, cocaine will travel rapidly into your bloodstream and brain. You’ll also experience a stronger, but more short-lived high of roughly five to 10 minutes. The high from snorting cocaine is short-lived as well, but lasts a bit longer — roughly 15 to 30 minutes, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

It blocks the brain’s normal reabsorption of hormones involved in desire and pleasure, which can give you a temporary feeling of intense euphoria.

It blocks the brain’s normal reabsorption of hormones involved in desire and pleasure, which can give you a temporary feeling of intense euphoria.

Normally, our brain cells cycle and reuse hormones like serotonin and dopamine, which play critical roles in how we experience desire, motivation, pleasure, and reward. After they’re released by brain cells to send out their signal, they’re taken up again by special receptors on that cell.

Cocaine blocks those receptors, effectively shutting off this normal cycling process. The result? A glut of the hormones that key our feelings of desire, behavior reinforcement, and pleasure (AKA a “high”).

Your pupils will dilate.

Your pupils will dilate.

Increased levels of both dopamine and serotonin can result in dilated pupils, and cocaine boosts both.

You may feel more energized or alert…

You may feel more energized or alert...

Cocaine is thought to boost levels of dopamine — a hormone which plays a key role in reinforcing a behavior — in several brain circuits, including one that’s involved in pleasure and another that’s involved in movement. This is one of the reasons some users may feel more energized, talkative, or alert, studies suggest.

…or you may feel irritable, anxious, or paranoid.

...or you may feel irritable, anxious, or paranoid.

Studies suggest a link between cocaine use and psychosis, when someone loses touch with reality. Symptoms of psychosis include agitation, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.

Still, we can’t say for certain what role the drug plays in these symptoms. While some studies suggest that people who experience psychosis while using cocaine are more likely to experience it later (even when they’re not using), others suggest that using cocaine can worsen underlying mental illnesses like anxiety.

In some users, cravings can be triggered by seeing people or places that remind them of getting high.

In some users, cravings can be triggered by seeing people or places that remind them of getting high.

The part of the brain cocaine affects includes key memory centers that help us recall where the source of pleasure came from. When we experience a cocaine high, these brain areas form memories of our pleasurable experience and the places or people that were involved in our experience of getting the drug.

This is why, in some people, going back to the original spot where you used cocaine — or simply seeing pictures of someone else using — might trigger a renewed desire to use.

Your blood vessels will tighten or constrict.

Your blood vessels will tighten or constrict.

Cocaine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates our “fight or flight” response. This also tightens up the vessels that ferry blood through our organs and tissues.

Your heart rate will rise.

Your heart rate will rise.

Since your vessels are narrowed, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to the rest of your body.

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