Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.
The powdered form of cocaine is either inhaled through the nose (snorted), where it is absorbed through the nasal tissue, or dissolved in water and injected into the bloodstream. Other names are: blow, bump, C, cnad, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, rock, snow, and toot.
Crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal (also called “freebase cocaine”) that can be smoked. The crystal is heated to produce vapors that are absorbed into the blood-stream through the lungs. (The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated.)
Signs & Symptoms
The intensity and duration of cocaine’s pleasurable effects depend on the way it is administered. Injecting or smoking cocaine delivers the drug rapidly into the bloodstream and brain, producing a quicker and stronger but shorter-lasting high than snorting. The high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes; the high from smoking may last 5 to 10 minutes.
- Runny nose
- Loss of smell
A Success Story
“At age 13 I smoked my first joint, did my first line of meth, and my first line of cocaine.
“Before that I would say I was just a kid with a normal life. When I was 13, my dad contacted my brother and I and we went to visit him. That is when I had my first drug use experience. It baffles me to this day (why he did it).
“We thought it was normal. It was not until I was in high school that that I realized not all kids smoked pot with their parents.
“When I came back I was molested by a friend of our family for a year. I never told anyone about it for years. I always felt that I could have done something about it and that I was wrong for letting it happen. I think there was bitterness and resentment toward my mom for letting it happen.
“I spent all of my adult life, searching for something to fill the emptiness in my heart. Sex, women, money, cars; I became a workaholic and had basically anything that I thought would bring me happiness. But nothing was enough. Then I stood before a judge and he gave me the choice of Adult & Teen Challenge or jail. I was the first person he had ever offered the choice!”
Effects of Use
Cocaine affects the body in a variety of ways. It constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well. Most seriously, people who use cocaine can suffer heart attacks or strokes, which may cause sudden death. Cocaine-related deaths are often a result of the heart stopping (cardiac arrest) followed by an arrest of breathing.
Some effects of cocaine depend on the method of taking it. Regular snorting of cocaine, for example, can lead to loss of the sense of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing, hoarseness, and a chronically runny nose. Ingesting cocaine by the mouth can cause severe bowel gangrene as a result of reduced blood flow. Injecting cocaine can bring about severe allergic reactions and increased risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases.