Effects of Cocaine on the Body
Cocaine is a stimulant and the possible effects include increased alertness, excitation, euphoria, increased pulse rate and blood pressure, insomnia, and loss of appetite. The effects of overdosing on cocaine include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions, and possible death. The withdrawal symptoms may include apathy, long periods of sleep, irritability, depression, and disorientation.
Cocaine and Neuron Growth
Studies have shown that cocaine can alter the formation or survival of new neurons in the hippocampus region of the adult brain, thus interfering with the process of new neuron growth. The growth of new neurons has been tentatively linked with learning and memory processes and with the regulation of stress and mood. Both learning/memory and stress/mood regulation are driving forces that guide addictive behaviors.
Cocaine Affects Genetic Structure
Studies have shown cocaine alters histones, tightly compacted molecules, causing them to separate. This exposes the genes, allowing for enzymes to initiate the production of addiction related proteins. Research has shown that increased levels of altered histones correspond with drug-seeking behaviors.
Development of Cocaine Vaccine
Many medications are under study to examine the potential for producing an anti-addiction vaccine. The cocaine vaccine works to keep the user from getting high by tricking the immune system into creating antibodies. These antibodies bond with cocaine and inhibit it from passing through the blood to the brain. This prevents the euphoric high that drives repeated use.