A pile of cocaine next to meth on a black table

Stimulant drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are some of the most commonly abused drugs in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, both methamphetamine and cocaine combined to be the third most popular drugs of abuse in America, according to SAMHSA. (1)

Here we take a look at the effects and long-term dangers of cocaine and methamphetamine use.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is an alkaloid extracted from coca shrubs indigenous to South America that has a A man uses a tool to use drugslong history of both medical and recreational use.

Cocaine is used medically for its local anesthetic properties, and recreationally for its intense euphoric and stimulant high in which it produces when insufflated or injected. According to Drugs.org, street cocaine typically comes in two forms: powder cocaine, and crack cocaine. (2)

What is methamphetamine?

Methamphetamine, also known as crystal meth, is a stimulant drug that is both physically and physiologically addictive. While methamphetamine does have a few limited legitimate medical uses, it is primarily an abused street drug.

Drug cartels or clandestine domestic makeshift laboratories illegally produce the majority of methamphetamine. Methamphetamine can be smoked, swallowed, snorted, or injected. (3)

What are the effects of methamphetamine and cocaine?

Methamphetamine and cocaine both act as central nervous stimulants. While they both share many of the same effects, they differ greatly in their duration.

Cocaine produces effects for approximately 20-60 minutes depending on the route of administration, while methamphetamine can last up to half a day. Some of the common effects both drugs produce include (4) (5):

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Euphoria
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyper-stimulation
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Intense drug craving

What are the long-term effects of methamphetamine and cocaine use?

Both methamphetamine and cocaine have serious long-term health risks associated with their abuse. Long-term cocaine abuse causes long-term changes to the brain’s natural reward pathway, tolerance, and drug-seeking behavior.

According to DrugAbuse.gov, many negative physical effects can also occur from long-term cocaine abuse, such as heart problems, nasal damage, lung damage, and other issues (6).

True Recovery

Methamphetamine use also produces serious long-term health risks. Like cocaine, methamphetamine drastically changes the brain’s natural reward mechanism. Methamphetamine is neurotoxic, meaning that its abuse actually leads to irreversible damage to the brain.

Many physical health problems also arise from both meth use and the lifestyle that usually accompanies it, such as infections, meth mouth, and severe weight loss (7).

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017/NSDUHDetailedTabs2017.htm#tab1-1A
  2. https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cocaine
  3. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=54
  4. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-methamphetamine-abuse
  5. http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/crack.asp#4
  6. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
  7. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/methamphetamine/what-are-long-term-effects-methamphetamine-abuse