What are the Short-term Effects of Cocaine & Methamphetamine?

For users, cocaine and methamphetamine can feel pretty similar in many ways. Even though the substances are structurally dissimilar, they still have common pharmacological actions. 

Both substances fall under the category of stimulant drugs. This means they produce strong feelings of euphoria, increased energy, sudden bursts of motivation, mental alertness, and a manufactured sense of wellbeing. To put it simply, stimulants are the category of substances that give users a sudden burst of energy and an acute injection of euphoria. Acute aphrodisiac effects of cocaine and methamphetamine are similar as well, as both substances are stimulants. This category of substance is known to cause symptoms of hypersexuality. That means sudden sexual arousal, lack of inhibitions, lack of impulse control, and the presence of a sexual “acting out” behavior. These behaviors can include self stimulation, and sex with one or more person. This isn’t the rule though. There are some users who don’t experience acute aphrodisiac effects.

Duration of Action 

The biggest difference between cocaine and methamphetamine is the length of time they work for. The duration of action for methamphetamine is long, unlike cocaine, which is metabolized quickly. A methamphetamine high can last all day (about twelve hours in total.) On the other hand, a cocaine high might only last for half-an-hour. Though, for the most part a cocaine high lasts for no longer than one hour. Due to their varying durations of use, the high from these substances can cause different adverse consequences in users. The adverse consequences of a methamphetamine high are especially upsetting to witness. Because the drug can last for twelve hours, some users might seek out a marathon/binge high, which is essentially a very, very long-lasting high. This results in more profound post-drug dysphoria and can cause adverse effects on the user’s mood and mental state. Methamphetamine users are likely to experience panic attacks, anxiety, and even paranoid psychosis. If the user has an underlying psychiatric disorder, these symptoms can be alot worse. 

The Crash 

The “crash” comes after the high. When a stimulant wears off, the user’s mood takes a big dip. It doesn’t just go back to pre-drug use levels. Instead, the user “crashes” and experiences depression, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, and intense cravings for the drug they’re crashing from. If the user was on a prolonged binge, these symptoms are made much worse. The desire to use the substance again is strong during the crash. The severity of the crash is based on a few different factors, including how much the person was using, how long the person was using for, and how they were getting high. As far as stimulants go, injecting gives users the most intense high and the absolute worst crash. These substances can also be smoked or snorted. 

Depression During the Crash

A user can technically get through the crash without medical intervention. They’ll need a lot of sleep and someone to watch over them to make sure they don’t go out and buy more drugs. As always, the BEST thing to do is go into a drug treatment facility and get monitored and looked after professionally. If a person is prone to depressive reactions, this is an especially good idea. The crash can be extremely severe for some and therefore potentially dangerous. Going in to a treatment facility is always the best option, but especially for those who experience severe depression during the crash. 

Using Other Substances 

While a user is experiencing the crash they may turn to other drugs. Simultaneous use and abuse of substances is very common. The most commonly co-used substances are benzodiazepines, alcohol, marijuana, and opioids. Taking these drugs while crashing on stimulants is a way of self-medicating for the user. These substances may help get rid of some of the unpleasant side effects of the crash like agitation and insomnia. At the same time, they give the user prolonged euphoria. 

Cocaethylene & Speedballing 

Combining alcohol and cocaine is dangerous. Cocaethylene is a byproduct of the two. It produces psychoactive effects in the user that are similar to cocaine, but longer lasting. A “speedball” is when a user mixes cocaine and heroin. Speedballing increases euphoria and reduces the unpleasant side effects of the crash. 

Relapse Prevention 

When users simultaneously use substances, triggering a relapse is unfortunately easy and common. For example, if a user is constantly using alcohol while coming down from cocaine use, they will crave one while doing the other. To prevent relapse, the user in this scenario will need to abstain from alcohol and cocaine. Once the brain connects two substances they become triggers for one another. It’s easy to get tripped up in the cycle of trigger-relapse this way. In fact, it’s so easy that even people with NO history of drinking alcohol are in danger of relapsing with stimulant use. It usually goes something like this: the user takes cocaine and, less than an hour later crashes. In order to get over some of the more uncomfortable symptoms of stimulant crash, the user decides to drink a beer. That’s how the cycle begins. 

In Conclusion

Cocaine and methamphetamine produce similar yet different highs. Though, the two substances are structurally dissimilar. The crash from cocaine and/or methamphetamine can be intense. Methamphetamine crash can not only be intense, it may also be dangerous. In order to feel better during the crash, some users may turn to other substances. Alcohol and cocaine use is extremely common. Even for users with no history of alcohol abuse, alcohol can trigger a stimulant relapse. The opposite is true as well, stimulant use can trigger alcohol relapse.