Some cocaine users describe their experiences as pleasurable, but cocaine use can lead to painful withdrawal and disappointment. Cocaine users feel a letdown when they realize they can never recreate the feeling of that first high.
Cocaine Users Typically Focus on the High, Forgetting the Low
The perceived glamour of cocaine, an illegal Schedule II stimulant, attracts many users to the drug, with the primary user group being adults between 18 and 25. Stories of feeling invincible and uninhibited while using coke often make the white powder seem less like a stealth-addictive substance and more like something to be desired.
People often ask, “What does coke feel like?,” or “What does cocaine do?” Some users describe the cocaine high as expanding the mind, giving feelings of power and confidence. One user puts it this way, “Cocaine, at least in my experience as a casual user was amazing. It’s like being able to become intensely focused and interested in anything you’re doing at the time.”
Coke users often delude themselves, thinking they can stop using anytime. However, when they attempt to walk away from cocaine, they can spiral deeper into the grip of the relentless substance. Cocaine doesn’t allow users to break completely free because it lurks in the background like a shadow.
What Does a High Feel Like for the User?
The cocaine high peak typically lasts from a few minutes to less than an hour, depending on how a user ingests it. How does cocaine make you feel? Cocaine users may experience euphoria, intense pleasure, talkativeness, and invincibility. According to one cocaine user: “You feel unstoppable. Confident and ‘euphorical.’ You move fast, speak fast, your pupils get dilated, and you sweat. After some minutes, you get back to reality, and you don’t like being yourself in your normal mode, so you want to try it again.”
However, not everyone experiences what some perceive as “positive” effects. It is common for cocaine users to experience:
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
In contrast to the cocky and confident personalities that some cocaine users display, others may be paranoid and fearful after doing a line of cocaine. Additional adverse effects can include feeling angry or out of control. Cocaine users never know what they will get when they snort a line, so one might ask, “Is the ‘reward’ worth the risk?”
What Does the Aftermath of a High Feel Like?
What goes up must come down, and coke does not let users down easily—the experience can be like crashing to the floor. One user who woke up with his friends gone described a night of partying as “having no endgame.” Cocaine makes people feel good, but the flip side is feeling bad.
Many coke users experience what is known as the rebound effect. When the high leaves, they feel lousy. The desire to feel “good” again becomes the user’s focus, starting a vicious cycle. Reliving that good feeling means getting the next coke fix, which often happens immediately. The next time they use, they require more of the drug to mimic that first experience. Going after a quicker and more intense high also leads to taking the substance in ways that make it get to the brain faster. When snorting does not do the job, it is not unusual for users to begin smoking cocaine or injecting it.
What Causes the Cocaine High?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the body produces and which sends messages between nerve cells. In the brain, high dopamine levels in the body can cause an individual to feel alert, euphoric, and happy, and also increase concentration. When people experience something that causes pleasurable feelings, it is natural to want to repeat that action.
Thinking about mom’s chocolate cake not only makes the mouth water, but also evokes warm feelings of family dinners where the dessert was a highly anticipated treat. The brain releases dopamine when it expects a treat or reward, like a nice chunk of chocolate cake. However, the dopamine release from thinking about a favorite food and finally getting it is much different from what cocaine users encounter. A person may go for months without another serving of chocolate cake, but it often does not work that way with the cocaine user.
The Risks Outweigh the Perceived Rewards
When an individual uses cocaine for the first time and experiences intense euphoria, confidence, and deep concentration, they will want to repeat the behavior soon. As one user describes it, “By the end of the night, you’re blowing a rail every 15 minutes trying to keep that high, but it just gets less and less each time.”
Over time, cocaine can take over the dopamine response. Repeated cocaine use can trigger the brain to release excessive dopamine. As a result, the user begins craving the drug, and getting it becomes a goal. Once addicted, cocaine users often engage in behaviors such as abandoning their family or work responsibilities, hanging out at crack houses, committing crimes like stealing, or trading sex for cocaine. Unfortunately, the effort to get high at any cost can lead to the addict unknowingly using cocaine laced with other substances, including deadly fentanyl.
Tolerance Paves the Way to Addiction
In its attempt to correct the action of releasing excessive dopamine, the brain starts producing less, meaning the coke user must ingest more of the drug to get pleasure. Regular cocaine users develop tolerance to the drug, which puts them on the path to addiction. Trying to stop makes the problem worse, because withdrawal syndrome can set in, causing anxiety, irritability, paranoia, sleeplessness, and other unpleasant events.
While cocaine addiction is complex, people find they can beat it with services provided by outpatient and residential treatment programs. Through detoxification and a behavioral approach that includes counseling or therapy, many cocaine addicts can return to a healthy, productive life.
If you, a family member, or another person you know is stuck in a cycle of cocaine use, reach out for help. It can be difficult to face and conquer a cocaine habit. At FHE Health, our medical professionals know just how hard it can be and have the expertise to help. Contact us today at 1-866-653-6220.