Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is used legally as a local
anesthetic for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries. Cocaine is also called
coke, C, snow, flake, or blow. It may contain other substances, such as
cornstarch, talcum powder, or sugar. It may also contain other drugs, such as
another local anesthetic called procaine or a stimulant such as
Two forms of cocaine are abused.
The white crystalline powdered form can be
sniffed through the nose (snorted) or dissolved in water and taken through a
vein (intravenously, or IV). It can also be taken by mouth or rubbed onto the
The freebase form, which has had impurities removed with
solvents, is smoked. Crack is a smokable, freebase cocaine made from powdered
cocaine hydrochloride. It is also called chips, chunks, or rocks. The name
crack came about because of the crackling sound that it makes when it is
Small amounts of cocaine make a person feel euphoric, energetic,
talkative, and mentally alert. It also decreases appetite and the need for
sleep. When large amounts of cocaine are taken, the high is more intense.
But large doses can cause strange or violent behavior in which the person
may have tremors or muscle twitches or become paranoid.
After using cocaine, the person feels irritable, tired, and
depressed. This is called a coke crash. When a person takes the drug at higher
and higher doses (a binge), it can cause increasing irritability, restlessness,
and paranoia that can result in a serious loss of touch with reality (paranoid
Cocaine is a very addictive drug, and some people easily lose control
over its use.
Use of cocaine can lead to serious health problems, including:
Changes in heart rhythm and heart
Headache, seizure, and stroke.
Loss of smell,
persistent runny nose, nosebleeds, hoarseness, and destruction of the nasal
separation (nasal septum) when the drug is snorted.
Serious infections, HIV,
hepatitis, or allergic reactions when injected into a
Weight loss and poor nutrition from loss of appetite.
Sometimes sudden death can occur, even with the first use of
cocaine. Sudden death from cocaine use may occur because of a heart attack or
seizure in which breathing stops. Sudden death is more likely to occur when
cocaine is used along with alcohol.
The effects of cocaine last about 1 to 2 hours. Cocaine can be
detected in a urine drug screen up to 6 days after it has been taken.
Signs of use
Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as
syringes, spoons with smoke stains, small pieces of glass, and razor
Persistent runny nose and nosebleeds, which may point to the
snorting of cocaine
"Track marks" where it has been injected into
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.