Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, found in South America.  The aboriginal people there have been chewing its leaves for hundreds of years.  It was first made into cocaine in Germany in the mid-1800s.

Cocaine is usually sold as a fine, white powder.  The powder is often made up of cocaine hydrochloride salt mixed with 'fillers.'  Cocaine can be snorted, smoked or injected.  The powder is usually snorted but it can be dissolved in water and injected.  It can also be rubbed into the gums.  People make free base cocaine by heating the powder and adding a base solution.  Free base cocaine can be smoked.  Crack is a type of freebase cocaine which looks like little rocks or crystals.  Crack can be smoked, or it can be mixed with water and ascorbic acid and injected.

Cocaine is a stimulant.  It speeds up the central nervous system.  The effects can last from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how it is taken.

Short Term Effects

  • More alert and confident

  • Lots of energy

  • Feel happy, content, euphoric

  • Strong sexual feelings

  • Restless

  • Feel anxious, threatened, paranoid

  • Large pupils

  • Increase in breathing, heart rate and blood pressure

  • Not Hungry

  • Shaking, tremors, convulsions, twitching (with larger doses)

Long Term Effects

  • Feel like bugs are crawling under or on the skin (formication)

  • See things that aren't there (hallucinations)

  • Believe something that is not true (Paranoid delusions)

  • Irregular heart beat or high blood pressure

  • Depressed and thinking about suicide

  • Poor memory and attention

  • Stuffy or runny, chapped or bleeding nose, and holes in the wall that separates the nostrils (from snorting)

  • Risk of Hepatitis C (from sharing pipes)

  • Risk of blood borne diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C (from sharing needles)

Withdrawal Effects

  • Depressed mood

  • Hard time sleeping or waking up

  • Problems having an erection

  • Extremely tired

  • Body movements hard to control

  • Bad dreams

  • Anxiety

  • Grouchy and irritable

See Also: 
Learn About Cocaine (Here to Help)
Learn about what cocaine is, why we use it, when it's a problem, and how to make healthier choices about cocaine

BC Children's Hospital

This is an agency of Provincial Health Services Authority, providing provincial tertiary mental health services to the citizens of British Columbia. Programs include: Adult Tertiary Psychiatry, Geriatric Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatric Services, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Women’s Reproductive Mental Health, as well as the Provincial Specialized Eating Disorders Program for children and youth located at the BC Children’s Hospital.

Provincial Health Services Authority

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) is one of six health authorities – the other five health authorities serve geographic regions of BC.

Ministry of Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health

RBC Children's Mental Health Project

RBC Children’s Mental Health Project is RBC's cornerstone “health and wellness” pillar; RBC Children’s Mental Heath Project is a multi-year philanthropic commitment to support community-based and hospital programs that reduce stigma, provide early intervention and increase public awareness about children’s mental health issues.

BC Children's Hospital Foundation

Through a wide range of fundraising events and opportunities, The BC Children's Hospital Foundation is united with its donors by a single, simple passion - to improve the health and the lives of the young people who enter BC Children's Hospital every day.