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Drugs Cocaine's effect on the body

Like many young people Molly has experienced many successes. She was a terrific athletic and had a lot of friends.

Molly never touched cocaine until she graduated from high school. After using it the second time she got hooked. Within just a few weeks, she was using cocaine every day.

"When I felt bad about myself, cocaine was the only thing that made me feel upbeat again," Molly says.

Things happen to your body when you use cocaine. Things you never think about when you're craving the drug.

When you snort cocaine, some of the drug ends up caked in your nose. Part of Molly's daily hygiene Molly was to clean her nose with a Q-Tip. "One day I was using a Q-tip to get the embedded cocaine out of my nose," Molly says. "The Q-Tip went to right into the other nostril. That's how much the cartilage in my nose had deteriorated."

These physical effects of cocaine use weren't enough to get Molly to stop. The craving was too strong.

Then the bridge of her nose started to collapse. Dr. Tyler Lewark, a surgeon, explained that cocaine reduced the amount of blood reaching the cartilage between the right and left nostril. Cocaine was eroding the cartilage and the bridge of her nose was caving in.

"You look inside someone's nose like this," says Dr. Lewark, "and it's horrendous."

Dr. Lewark told Molly that, if she didn't get her nose fixed, it would continue to collapse.

It was a six-hour operation. Dr. Lewark implanted a small piece of plastic-like material to replace the damaged cartilage. The idea was that tissue would grow through the implant, hold the bridge in place, and support the nose. But it didn't work. Molly could move the plastic piece around her face with her finger. Dr. Lewark told Molly that the operation failed because there still wasn't enough blood getting to her nose.

A more radical surgery was needed. Dr. Lewark and a plastic surgeon performed an eight and a half hour operation. "They cut my face, ear to ear," Molly says. "They pulled my face down. With skin and bone from my skull, they built me a nose."

So far, the operation is working. But Molly knows that the skin over the implanted bone could still break down. Every time she looks in the mirror, she checks for signs that it is happening.

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