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Cocaine Use Disorder

What is Cocaine?

Overview: Cocaine is an intense, euphoria-producing stimulant drug with strong addictive potential.


Street Names: Coca, Coke, Crack, Snow, Soda Cot.


Looks Like: Cocaine is usually distributed as a white, crystalline powder. Cocaine is often diluted ("cut") with a variety of substances, the most common of which are sugars and local anesthetics. It is "cut" to stretch out the amount of the product and increase profits for dealers. In contrast, cocaine base (crack) looks like small, irregularly shaped chunks (or "rocks") of a whitish solid.


Methods of Abuse: Powdered cocaine can be snorted or injected into the veins after dissolving in water. Cocaine base (crack) is smoked, either alone or on marijuana or tobacco. Cocaine is also abused in combination with an opiate, like heroin, a practice known as "speedballing." Although injecting into veins or muscles, snorting and smoking are the most common ways of using cocaine, all mucous membranes readily absorb cocaine. Cocaine users typically binge on the drug until they are exhausted or run out of cocaine.


Affect on Mind: The intensity of cocaine's euphoric effects depends on how quickly the drug reaches the brain, which depends on the dose and method of abuse. Following smoking or intravenous injection, cocaine reaches the brain in seconds, with a rapid buildup in levels. This results in a rapid-onset, intense euphoric effect known as a "rush." By contrast, the euphoria caused by snorting cocaine is less intense and does not happen as quickly due to the slower build-up of the drug in the brain. Other effects include increased alertnes and excitation, as well as restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Tolerance to cocaine's effects develops rapidlym causing users to take higher and higher doses. Taking high doses of cocaine or prolonged use, such as binging, usually causes paranoia. The crash that follows euphoria us characterized by mental and physical exhaustion, sleep, and depression lasting several days. Following the crash, users experience a craving to use cocaine again.


Affect on Body: Physiological effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, dilated pupils, insomnia, and loss of appetite, The widespread abuse of highly pure street cocaine has led to many severe adverse health consequences such as: cardiac arrhythmias, ischemic heart conditions, sudden cardiac arrest, convulsions, strokes, and death. In some users, the long-term use of inhaled cocaine has led to a unique respiratory syndrome, and chronic snorting of cocaine has led to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity.


Drugs Causing Similar Effects: Other stimulants, such as methamphetamine, cause effects similar to cocai that vary mainly in degree.


Overdose Effects: Overdose effects include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and possible death.


*Above information and images below courtesy of the Drug Enforcement Administration (

Crack Cocaine
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