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.
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.
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
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will almost always be withdrawn, listless, and careless about
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 it the drug was taken. Fatigue and
irritability also result. Intense cravings result from use because
of the intensity and pleasure of the highs.
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
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.
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
*Information provided by Dr. Barbara
A. Krantz, Chief Medical Officer at the Hanley Center
*First Check Diagnostics Corp. is offering these resources for
informational purposes only, and the Hanley Center is no way
affiliated with any of the entities that provide the