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Drug Information


Understanding Cocaine


Cocaine is a white powder substance, also known as benzoylmethylecgonine or coke that reacts with the body’s central nervous system, producing energy and euphoria. It is most commonly snorted, but can also be smoked (also known as “freebasing”) or dissolved in water and injected. Cocaine is also referred to as coke, blow or powder.

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, but it may be hard to recognize an addiction to it. Craving cocaine and ignoring the consequences that come with it are signs of an addiction.

The psychological addiction is often the hardest part to overcome, although there are undeniable physical symptoms of addiction as well. Someone who uses cocaine frequently will develop a dependence on it, meaning they need to have it in order to feel normal. Once a dependence has developed, a tolerance will develop and withdrawal symptoms will occur when stopping use.

Once someone becomes addicted to cocaine, it can be very hard to stop. This is because cocaine abnormally increases the level of dopamine in the brain, eventually reprogramming the brain reward sys



Cocaine Effects and Abuse

Any use of cocaine is considered abuse because it is an illegal substance. Cocaine increases levels of happiness-inducing chemicals that are naturally produced by the brain, which is why people feel euphoric when they use it.


Other effects of using cocaine include:


  • Talkativeness

  • Excitement

  • Alertness

  • Anxiety

  • Overconfidence


How people use cocaine also alters the potency and duration of the effects. The effects of snorting it are short-lived, lasting approximately 30 minutes. Smoking or injecting cocaine is more intense but lasts for an even shorter period, about 5 to 10 minutes. Most cocaine users will dose frequently in order to maintain the desired effects. Injecting the drug poses a higher risk of overdose than snorting.

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Progressive Diagnostics - Drug Information - Cocaine

Signs of Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance, and what starts off as seemingly harmless experimentation can develop into a potentially life-threatening addiction. Recognizing the signs of abuse can help you identify if someone is abusing the drug.


Common signs of cocaine use include:

  • Dilated pupils

  • Long periods of wakefulness

  • Overconfidence

  • Over-excitement

  • Loss of appetite

  • Paranoia

  • Weight loss

  • Runny nose or frequent sniffles

  • White powder around nostrils



Cocaine is a dangerous drug in part for its highly addictive potential, but it also poses serious risks on a person’s overall health. There are both short- and long-term dangers associated with cocaine use, ranging from overdose to organ failure.


Cocaine abuse constricts blood vessels, which causes an increase in unhealthy blood pressure. Snorting cocaine can also cause serious damage to the nasal cavity and septum.



Immediate Side Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The effects of cocaine are felt relatively quickly and are short-lived compared to other substances—only lasting roughly 30 minutes.


Taken in smaller doses, cocaine produces effects of happiness, sociability, concentration and a decreased need for sleep.


However, larger amounts of cocaine are particularly dangerous. Large doses can cause violent behavior, nosebleeds, heart attacks, strokes and even death.



Long-term Effects of Cocaine Abuse

The extent to which long-term side effects become more severe depends on the frequency and amount of cocaine used for an extended period of time.


Over time, cocaine abuse can affect the brain, lungs, heart, kidneys and gastrointestinal system. Continued abuse of cocaine can also lead to harmful behavioral and physiological side effects.

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