Key points:

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that when used the effects don’t last long and it’s often said to be a ‘moreish’ drug in that people using it always want more.

As with all stimulant drugs, after use you will have a come down as all your energy has been used. This will make you feel terrible and can often lead to depression.

Cocaine is most commonly abused by snorting, smoking or injecting, it can also be rubbed onto gums.

When cocaine is snorted, the drug is usually laid out on a mirror, plate or other flat surface, separated into ‘lines’ and snorted nasally through a straw, rolled-up bank note or other inhaling device. The cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. The effect or ‘high’ with snorting may last 15 to 30 minutes, but does not occur as quickly as smoking or injecting it.

Cocaine’s effect is described as euphoric with increased energy, reduced fatigue, and heightened mental alertness. Users may be talkative, extraverted, and have a loss of appetite or do not feel the need for sleep. Cocaine’s psychoactive, pleasurable effects are short-lived without continued administration.

Street names can include: Chang, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, snow, sniff, pebbles, freebase, toot, wash, rocks, sniff.

The Law:

  • Cocaine is a Class A drug, which means it’s illegal to have for yourself, give away or sell.
  • Possession can get you up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.
  • Supplying someone else, even your friends, can get life in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Like drink driving, driving when high is dangerous and illegal. If you’re caught driving under the influence, you may receive a heavy fine, driving ban, or prison sentence.

Effects on the body and risks:

  • Cocaine is risky for anyone with high blood pressure or a heart condition, but even healthy young people can have a fit, heart attack or stroke after using the drug.
  • The risk of overdose increases if you mix cocaine with other substances or alcohol.
  • Over time, snorting cocaine damages the cartilage in your nose that separates your nostrils. Heavy users can lose this cartilage and end up with one large nostril
  • Taking cocaine when pregnant can damage your baby, cause miscarriage, premature labour and low birth weight.
  • Regularly smoking crack can cause breathing problems and pains in the chest.
  • Injecting cocaine can damage veins and cause ulcers and gangrene. Sharing needles or other injecting equipment can spread HIV and hepatitis infections too. It’s also easier to overdose from injecting cocaine.

Regular use of cocaine can make people feel:

  • depressed
  • run-down
  • anxious
  • paranoid

Cocaine can bring previous mental health problems to the surface too, and if a relative has had mental health problems, there might be an increased risk for you.

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