What is cocaine?
Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, found in South America. The indigenous peoples 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. Freebase cocaine, a term often used for crack, 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.
- more alert and confident
- lots of energy
- feel happy, content, euphoric
- strong sexual feelings
- feel anxious, threatened, paranoid
- large pupils
- increase in breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
- not hungry
- shaking, tremors, convulsions, twitching (with larger doses)
- risk of blood borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C (from sharing needles or pipes)
- feel like bugs are crawling under or on the skin (formication)
- see things that aren't there (hallucinations)
- hear things that aren't there (auditory 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; holes in the wall that separates the nostrils (from snorting)
- a mild, moderate to severe substance use disorder
- increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease
People who share needles to inject cocaine are at a high risk of getting diseases such as:
- hepatitis c (liver disease)
- HIV and other blood borne diseases
- infection of the heart lining and valves
- skin infections and abscesses
- lung or kidney disease
- collapsed veins (from injecting)