Can You Eat Cocaine?

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Cocaine is a substance that can cause serious psychological and physical dependency. Approximately 5.2 million individuals engage in cocaine use, according to the CDC. (1) Of those who engage in cocaine use, 25 percent go on to develop cocaine use disorder. (2) There are different ways to ingest cocaine. Methods of use include smoking, inhaling through the nose, and intravenous injections. With different ways to engage in cocaine use, some people may ask themselves, can you eat cocaine? Though this method is used less often than others, it is possible to eat cocaine. Though there are some differences in the potential effects when compared to other methods of use, eating cocaine is still a dangerous act and can lead to developing an addiction to cocaine.

If you or someone you love engages in cocaine use that causes impairment or distress in important areas of functioning, cocaine use disorder may be the culprit. Individuals experience cocaine use disorder when cocaine use is continued despite negative consequences or adverse side effects. Guardian Recovery offers comprehensive and individualized treatment to help individuals experiencing alcohol and substance use disorders. Our treatment facilities offer different levels of care, depending on the specific treatment needs of the individual. Contact us today to learn more and to start your road to recovery.

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Why Would Someone Choose to Eat Cocaine?

With more common methods of use, one may wonder why would someone even choose to eat cocaine? Cocaine is actually derived from a plant known as the coca plant. For thousands of years, individuals living in South America have chewed and consumed the leaves of the coca plant. (3) This could have potentially played a role in the development of the oral consumption of the substance.

When an individual eats cocaine, they either rub it against their gums or swallow it. This is often done to test the quality and purity of the cocaine being used. For some, eating cocaine is simply their preferred method of consumption.

Side Effects of Eating Cocaine

In addition, to the normal side effects associated with cocaine use, eating cocaine produces its own set of side effects as well.

Side effects of eating cocaine include:

  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Seizures
  • Experiencing a shift in how the body handles stress
  • Cocaine overdose

Psychical

Eating cocaine can cause physical effects. These physical effects include: (4)

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle twitching

Behavioral

Eating cocaine can also cause behavioral effects. These behavioral effects include: (5)

  • Temporary feelings of euphoria
  • Temporary feelings of energy
  • Temporary mental alertness
  • Talkativeness
  • Irritable and aggressive behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

Long-Term Effects & Dangers to the Body

Repeated cocaine use, regardless of method of use, can cause long-term health effects and can be dangerous to the body. Eating cocaine continuously can lead to rewiring of the brain’s rewards system. Cocaine use floods the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure. Since cocaine provides the brain with an artificial source of dopamine, the brain stops producing it naturally. This can lead to developing tolerance, or needing to consume more cocaine in order to reach the desired high. Tolerance increases your chances of becoming dependent or developing cocaine use disorder. Those with a dependency may continuously seek to engage in cocaine use, leading them to neglect their home, occupational and relational responsibilities.

Long-term effects associated with eating cocaine include: (6)

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain that feels similar to a heart attack
  • Heart inflammation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cocaine psychosis
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Brain bleeding

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Reduced Blood Flow to Intestines

Eating cocaine can cause vasoconstriction, or the tightening of blood vessels. (7) This reduces normal blood flow in the body. Cocaine use can cause a reduction in blood flow within the gastrointestinal tract. (8) This can lead to intestinal tears or ulcers. Experiencing a prolonged reduction of blood flow can cause damage to various organs such as the heart, kidneys, and skin.

Liver & Kidney Damage

Eating cocaine can cause severe liver and kidney damage. The liver is an extremely important part of the body as it stores nutrients, removes waste from the body, processes chemicals from food, and produces bile. (9) Cocaine use can lead to the development of acute liver failure. Acute liver failure occurs when the liver can no longer function properly. Acute liver failure caused by substance use makes up approximately 50 percent of acute liver impairment cases. (10)

Signs and symptoms of acute liver failure include: (11)

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice

The kidneys are a pair of organs that help keep chemicals balanced in the body, remove wastes, and produce hormones important for blood pressure and red blood cells. (12) Eating cocaine can lead to cocaine-related acute kidney injury, where the kidney begins to no longer function properly. (13)

Signs and symptoms associated with acute kidney injury include: (14)

  • Reduced urine leaving the body
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Can You Overdose From Ingesting Cocaine?

Eating cocaine can lead to overdose if taken in high amounts or combined with other substances. Cocaine overdose is dangerous and can be fatal. In 2020, approximately 19,447 individuals died due to experiencing a cocaine overdose. (15)

Signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose include: (16)

  • Blurry vision
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Headache
  • Hypothermia
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures

Seek emergency medical attention if you suspect that you or someone you love is experiencing a cocaine overdose.

Effects of Eating Cocaine Compared to Other Methods of Use

Compared to other methods of use, eating cocaine takes a longer period of time before the effects kick in. Cocaine passes through the digestive system when it is eaten. It can also be absorbed by the bloodstream through the gums. Eating cocaine often results in a milder high compared to other ingestion methods. (17)

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Reduced Blood Flow to Intestines

Eating cocaine can cause vasoconstriction, or the tightening of blood vessels. (7) This reduces normal blood flow in the body. Cocaine use can cause a reduction in blood flow within the gastrointestinal tract. (8) This can lead to intestinal tears or ulcers. Experiencing a prolonged reduction of blood flow can cause damage to various organs such as the heart, kidneys, and skin.

Liver & Kidney Damage

Eating cocaine can cause severe liver and kidney damage. The liver is an extremely important part of the body as it stores nutrients, removes waste from the body, processes chemicals from food, and produces bile. (9) Cocaine use can lead to the development of acute liver failure. Acute liver failure occurs when the liver can no longer function properly. Acute liver failure caused by substance use makes up approximately 50 percent of acute liver impairment cases. (10)

Signs and symptoms of acute liver failure include: (11)

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Jaundice

The kidneys are a pair of organs that help keep chemicals balanced in the body, remove wastes, and produce hormones important for blood pressure and red blood cells. (12) Eating cocaine can lead to cocaine-related acute kidney injury, where the kidney begins to no longer function properly. (13)

Signs and symptoms associated with acute kidney injury include: (14)

  • Reduced urine leaving the body
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Seizure
  • Coma

Can You Overdose From Ingesting Cocaine?

Eating cocaine can lead to overdose if taken in high amounts or combined with other substances. Cocaine overdose is dangerous and can be fatal. In 2020, approximately 19,447 individuals died due to experiencing a cocaine overdose. (15)

Signs and symptoms of cocaine overdose include: (16)

  • Blurry vision
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Headache
  • Hypothermia
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures

Seek emergency medical attention if you suspect that you or someone you love is experiencing a cocaine overdose.

Effects of Eating Cocaine Compared to Other Methods of Use

Compared to other methods of use, eating cocaine takes a longer period of time before the effects kick in. Cocaine passes through the digestive system when it is eaten. It can also be absorbed by the bloodstream through the gums. Eating cocaine often results in a milder high compared to other ingestion methods. (17)

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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