What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body. Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), which is native to South America. The leaf extract is processed to produce 3 different forms of cocaine:
• Cocaine hydrochloride: a white, crystalline powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lactose and glucose, to dilute it before being sold.
• Freebase: a white powder that is more pure with less impurity than cocaine hydrochloride.
• Crack: crystals ranging in colour from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue, it may contain impurities.
C, coke, nose candy, snow, white lady, toot, Charlie, blow, white dust or stardust.
How is it used?
Cocaine hydrochloride is most commonly snorted. It can also be injected, rubbed into the gums, added to drinks or food. Freebase and crack cocaine are usually smoked. Indigenous people of South America have traditionally chewed the leaves of the coca bush, or brewed them as a tea, for use as a stimulant or appetite suppressant.
Effects of cocaine
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries risk. Cocaine affects everyone differently, based on:
• Size, weight and health
• Whether the person is used to taking it
• Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
• The amount taken
• The strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch) You may experience:
• Happiness and confidence
• Talking more
• Feeling energetic and alert
• Quiet contemplation and rapture
• Feeling physically strong and mentally sharp
• Reduced appetite
• Dry mouth
• Enlarged (dilated) pupils
• Higher blood pressure and faster heartbeat and breathing (after initial slowing)
• Higher body temperature
• Increased sex drive
• Unpredictable, violent or aggressive behaviour
• Indifference to pain
If you take a large amount or have a strong batch, you could overdose. If you have any of the symptoms below, call an ambulance straight away
• Nausea and vomiting
• Extreme anxiety
• Chest pain
• Extreme agitation and paranoia
• Breathing irregularities
• Kidney failure
• Heart problems
High doses and frequent heavy use can also cause ‘cocaine psychosis’, characterised by paranoid delusions, hallucinations and out of character aggressive behaviour. These symptoms usually disappear a few days after the person stops using cocaine. Injecting cocaine and sharing needles may also cause:
• Increased likelihood of overdose
• Hepatitis B
• Hepatitis C
In the days after cocaine use, you may feel:
• Tension and anxiety
• Mood swings
• Total exhaustion
Regular use of cocaine may eventually cause:
• Insomnia and exhaustion
• Anxiety, paranoia and psychosis
• Sexual dysfunction
• Hypertension and irregular heartbeat
• Heart disease and death
Snorting cocaine regularly can also cause:
• Runny nose and nose bleeds
• Nose infection
• A hole in the tissue separating the nostrils
• Long term damage to the nasal cavity and sinuses