Cocaine is a drug extracted from the leaves of the coca
plant. It is a potent brain stimulant and one of the most
powerfully addictive drugs.
Cocaine is distributed on the street in two main forms:
cocaine hydrochloride is a white crystalline powder that
can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected; and
“crack” is cocaine hydrochloride that has been
processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking
soda) and water into a freebase cocaine. These chips,
chunks, or rocks can be smoked.
Cocaine may be used occasionally, daily, or in a variety
of compulsive, repeated-use “binges”. Regardless of
how it is used, cocaine is highly addictive. Crack cocaine
and injected cocaine reach the brain quickly and bring an
intense and immediate high. Snorted cocaine produces a
high more slowly.
Cocaine can produce a surge in energy, a feeling of
intense pleasure, and increased confidence. The effects
of powder cocaine last about 20 minutes, while the
effects of “crack” last about 12 minutes. Heavy use of
cocaine may produce hallucinations, paranoia,
aggression, insomnia, and depression.
Cocaine”s effects are short lived, and once the drug
leaves the brain, the user experiences a “coke crash” that
includes depression, irritability, and fatigue.
Many people ask is cocaine addictive?
Yes. Cocaine can take over your life and cause you to
lose interest in everything else. Studies in monkeys have
shown that animals will work very hard (press a bar over
10,000 times) for a single injection of cocaine, choose
cocaine over food and water, and take cocaine even
when this behavior is punished. Animals must have their
access to cocaine limited in order not to take toxic or
even lethal doses. People addicted to cocaine behave
similarly. They will go to great lengths to get cocaine and
continue to take it even when it hurts their school or job
performance and their relationships with loved ones.
Do users develop a tolerance to crack or cocaine?
Yes. Users may find they need more and more of the
drug to get high.
What are the effects of cocaine use?
Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system. It acts on
the “pleasure centers” of the brain, producing
heightened pleasure and increased confidence. Other
immediate effects include dilated pupils and elevated
blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and body
temperature. The pleasurable effects of powder cocaine
last about 20 minutes. Occasional use can cause a stuffy
or runny nose, and chronic use can ulcerate the mucous
membrane of the nose. Injecting cocaine with
contaminated equipment can cause AIDS, hepatitis, and
other diseases. Preparation of freebase cocaine, which
involves the use of volatile solvents, can result in death
or injury from fire or explosion.
Effects include constricted peripheral blood vessels,
elevated temperature, and increased heart rate and blood
pressure. Some cocaine users report feelings of
restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Prolonged cocaine
use and smoking crack cocaine can also trigger paranoid
behavior. Cocaine may also harm the health and
development of infants born to women who use cocaine
during pregnancy. When addicted individuals stop
using cocaine, they often suffer from depression and
anxiety, and the inability to experience pleasure from
normally pleasurable activities. This makes it extremely
difficult or the recovering addict to stay clean.
Cocaine in its freebase form is extremely addictive, and
its effects are felt within 10 seconds. The physical effects
include dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated
blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, tactile
hallucinations, paranoia, and seizure. The use of cocaine
can cause death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.
Appearance of cocaine.
Cocaine sold on the street is in the form of a white
powdery substance. it resembles snowflakes, crystal or
lactose. This accounts for two of its nicknames: “crystal”
and “snow”. It is “cut” for street sale, much like heroin.(
This means the drug is diluted with some other
substance.) In street samples cocaine purity ranges any
where from 15% – 50% with an average purity of 25%
cocaine. Cocaine is cut with mannitol, lactose, insitold,
Under the Influence Symtoms
Under the influence of cocaine means that there is
physical evident cocaine present in the body such as
dilated pupils, hyperactive nervous system, muscle
relaxation, and cocaine found in blood or urine. Since
cocaine”s activity level in the body is 3-6 hours following
use the term “under the influence” is restricted to users
who show physical evidence of cocaine during its
activity period of 3-6 hours.
Persons using cocaine can show evidence of the
Rapidity of speech (low dose)
Aggitated or hyperstimulated appearance (low
Slowing or slurred speech (high dose)
Sedated or sleepy (high dose)
High pulse and respiration rate
Pupil size will be dilated
Presence of cocaine in nasal passage
Hallucinations or delusions
How many people use cocaine?
The number of regular cocaine users has declined by
75% since 1986. In 1995, according to the National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse, an estimated 1.45
million Americans were current cocaine users; that is,
they had used cocaine at least once in the past month.
Of that number, an estimated one-half million were
current crack users. As in the past, the rate of current
cocaine use was highest among young adults. In 1995,
approximately 54% of current cocaine users were aged
between 18 and 34
1.Pollack MH, Brotman AW, Rosenbaum JF.
“Cocaine abuse and treatment.” Comprehensive
Psychiatry 1989 Jan- Feb;30(1):31-44.
2.Vandette JM, Cornish LA. “Medical
complications of illicit cocaine use.” Clin Pharm