Cocaine is a drug that is a potent central nervous system stimulant and is associated with a high risk of addiction. It can be sold in powdered or crystalline formats and be smoked, swallowed, or sniffed. Some even shoot up the drug. When the drug enters the bloodstream, it quickly shoots up to the tissues of the brain, altering the chemical content in certain parts. Brain cells then release the neurotransmitter dopamine to induce a pleasurable feeling.
Cocaine disrupts this pattern in a few ways: it augments the amount of dopamine released and keeps it from being recycled so that happiness can last longer. Enough times and the brain gets used to the feeling and needs a higher dose to get the same amount of dopamine. This means people can get immune to the drug and may not feel anything when they take it. Over time, they stop feeling pleasure in reality as well.
Additionally, cocaine affects the body tissues in which it comes in contact. So, if you sniff it, it can cause the blood vessels in the nose to tighten and shrink be damaged, leading to bloody noses and loss of smell. It can also lead to tumors, lesions, and trauma to the nose, mouth, and palette, which may require surgery to correct the issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, those individuals who swallow cocaine can experience intestinal problems that can be life-threatening.