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Addiction and Substance Abuse

What Are the Side Effects of Cocaine Use?

02/24/2009

Question:

I have been addicted to IV cocaine usage for a bit over a year now. I have had horrible gastrointestinal problems as a result. Can you please provide additional reading?

Answer:

Cocaine addiction is pretty hard on several organ systems of the body, including the stomach and intestines. People often develop marked weight loss, loss of appetite, and irritable bowel or colitis symptoms.

Rarely cocaine binges can cause actual ischemia (lack of blood flow) to areas of the small or large intestine and thus intestinal damage up to and including gangrene and bowel necrosis. This all tends to be related to the huge surges of adrenaline caused by cocaine use and the spasm of "smooth muscle" (the muscle that makes up the lining of blood vessels and the GI track).

Even though the GI symptoms of cocaine addiction are impressive and at times life threatening, by far and away the most devastating area of life affected by this addiction is the area of self respect, self image, close love relationships, and family relationships. These are the earliest and most personally painful areas where all addictive disease, and especially fast progressing addictions like IV cocaine addiction, tend to affect people.

So for the sake of your GI track ... and especially for the sake of the rest of your person-hood, I hope you get as much help as necessary for you to get sober.

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University