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What is it?

Cocaine is a potent, addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain and central nervous system. This crystal powder is manufactured from the coca leaf. In its pure form, cocaine is a chemical known as cocaine hydrochloride. Crack cocaine is cocaine that has been cooked down with baking soda to form ammonia or sodium bicarbonate that is used by smoking.

Slang Terms:

Nose nachos, racehorse Charlie, yeyo, hooter, crank, blow, bad rock, bazooka, beam, Bernice, big C, blizzard, coca, blast beam, flake, nose candy. Crack is also referred to as freebase, ready rock, and gravel.

Intoxicated Terms:

Buzzed, high, getting a rush, freaked out

How is it used?

Cocaine can be inhaled or snorted through the nose or it can be injected directly into the blood stream. Crack cocaine can be smoked. The drug user uses baking soda with water and a hot flame to cook the cocaine into chunks or “rocks,” which are then broken into pieces that are smoked in a glass pipe. Many users mix other drugs with cocaine or crack to get what they consider a better high. When heroin and cocaine are used together, for example, it results in an immediate high and is also addictive at first time use.

Signs of usage:

There are physical and social signs to watch for in cocaine use. Physical signs include red, bloodshot eyes, runny nose, and frequent sniffling. The user may change eating habits and lose weight. There is often a change in sleeping habits, an increase in skipping school or flunking out of school, a distinct loss of interest in old activities, and a change of friends or groups. The user frequently needs money and will resort to stealing. The user will almost always be withdrawn, listless, and careless about personal appearance.

Effects of usage:

The effects of the drug depend on the way it is taken. The drug reaches the brain within seconds, creating a “rush.” When injected, the euphoric high happens more quickly and with more intensity. When inhaled or smoked, this rush takes place within several minutes. Tolerance is built up with use, so more of the drug has to be taken each time to experience the same effects.

How long do the effects last?

Effects peak within 20 minutes and last 2-3 hours. The high from cocaine lasts up to about 30 minutes and from crack, less than ten minutes. The euphoria makes this drug very addictive.

Effects of withdrawal:

Just as the intense emotional highs resulting from cocaine use are addictive, the lows after use can be devastating. This may depend on intensity of the hit and how the drug was taken. Fatigue and irritability also result. Intense cravings result from use because of the intensity and pleasure of the highs.

Adverse reactions:

Extreme psychological reactions can occur, including paranoia and excitability. The possibility of stroke and heart attack is a reality, especially when cocaine is mixed with another drug or with alcohol.

Effects of prolonged usage:

Cocaine poses risks of both physical and psychological addiction. There are numerous health consequences associated with cocaine use, including cardiac arrest and stroke due to reduction of blood flow to the heart and brain. Memory problems and abdominal problems are also risks. Alcohol and cocaine used together are a deadly combination and can cause sudden death. Snorting cocaine can actually rot teeth, damage nasal passages, and at the very least, cause nasal congestion. Lung problems and chest pain can result from smoking crack.

Use by age:

The average age of first use for cocaine is reported to be 19.5 years, and the most prevalent use by age is in young adults aged 18-25. However, the average age of those who finally receive treatment is mid-30’s.

Use by grade level:

1.2 % of eighth-graders
1.3 % of tenth-graders
2.1% of high school seniors
While cocaine users tend to be young, cocaine use is becoming more common by those who originally used it in their youth and are now in their 50s and older.

Recent Developments:

Cocaine use peaked in the 1970s and again in the mid- 1980s and 1990s. Though there is a reported decreased use with youth today, cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug with extremely dangerous health risks. Overall, young women are now using more crack than young men.

Information provided by Dr. Barbara A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center

First Check Diagnostics, LLC is offering these resources for informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way affiliated with any of the entities that provide the resources.