Risk Of Becoming Addicted
Cocaine, similar to heroin can be extremely addictive. Even after just a few times or become psychologically addicted even sooner. That’s why we give this category 5/5 stars.
Damage To physical Health
Long-term physical health damage from cocaine is possible, however following harm minimisation techniques, long-term damage can hopefully be minimised. That’s why we rate this category 3/5 stars.
Damage To Mental Health
The psychological dependence cocaine causes along with cravings for it is one of the main reasons cocaine destroys peoples lives. That’s why we give this category 5/5 stars.
UK availability for cocaine is common, even more so with crack cocaine. That’s why we give this category 4/5 stars.
The average UK price of cocaine is £46 per gram.
Crack is commonly sold by the rock with £16 buying 0.25g.
Severity Of Withdrawals?
Withdrawing from cocaine is mostly psychological. With the correct therapies and treatments in place, physical withdrawals should be minimal with help mainly focusing on psychological support. That’s why we rate this category 2/5 stars.
Treatment Options Available?
Treatment options can include CBT, group/1-2-1 therapy, counselling along with certain non-traditional therapies such as acupuncture and meditation among others. However the user must be ready to engage with treatment and stick with it. That’s why we give this category 5/5 stars as safe treatment options are available for those ready to pursue them.
Long-Term Recovery Success?
Addiction is a treatable disorder and can be arrested. Some users will lapse or relapse after they complete their detox/rehab, therapy or other associated treatments. However cocaine addicts can live a happy, long, drug free life. That’s why we give this category 4What Are The UK Drug Laws And How Does The Drug Classification System Work?/5 stars as long-term success is possible!
Overall Risk Rating:
We give cocaine an overall risk-rating score of 4/5 stars. Treatments and therapies are available for those addicts who wish to pursue them. Those addicted to cocaine tend to be more psychologically dependant on cocaine than physically however, some minor physical withdrawals may be felt but can be managed with the help of their Drug and Alcohol Service, GP or Pharmacist. That’s why we rate cocaine 4/5 stars.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful psychologically addictive drug that is abused commonly worldwide and causes millions of deaths and complications the world over. Once having tried cocaine, users cannot predict or control the extent to which they will continue to use the drug as it makes you feel like you want more and more after it’s initial use (becomes “moreish”). Though cocaine abuse is down, it remains the second most used illicit drug used in UK.
Cocaine is a drug created from a paste extracted from the leaves of the South American coca plant. It is a strong stimulant that affects the body’s central nervous system. Cocaine can be injected, smoked, sniffed or snorted.
Cocaine can be mixed with other drugs including the anaesthetic lignocaine/benzocaine, amphetamine or any other ingredients from the numerous ingredients that have been detected in laboratory tests. When cocaine and heroin are combined, it produces what is called a “speedball or eightball”.
Is It The Same Thing As Crack?
Crack is cocaine freebase that’s been processed into a rock or coarse powder. This makes for a more potent & smokable substance as trying to smoke regular cocaine does not work until it has undergone the process of turning it into crack cocaine.
Cocaine is made from hydrochloride and alkaloid, which is also known as base. Baking soda or ammonium is used to “free” the base by removing the hydrochloride.
The end result is crack. It got its name from the crackling sound that comes from heating up and smoking/inhaling the rock (crack).
How Can It Be Used?
Cocaine is often snorted, but people also:
- dissolve the powder and inject it (speedball/eightball)
- ingest it orally, normally wrapped in a small piece of paper or a cigarette paper
- sprinkle it on cigarettes or joints to smoke it
- rubbing it into gums (gumming)
Cocaine Use Statistics
- Cocaine is the 2nd most commonly used illicit drug in the UK.
- 2.2% reported using cocaine in the last year, which equates to around 725,000 people.
- The rate of use has been climbing steadily since 2009 after a sharp decline from the 1990s and early 2000s.
- Users come from all economic status, all ages and all genders. However, a slightly higher rate is reported among young adults between 18 and 30 years old.
What Cocaine Looks Like
Cocaine is a white crystalline powder. Crack cocaine looks like a small rock, chunk, chip or coarse powder and it is sometimes off-white, pinky or slightly yellowish in color.
It’s common for street dealers to “cut” or dilute cocaine with a variety of substances. This is used to make more money since it’s sold by the weight. The additives can include anything that’s white and powdery including cornstarch, talcum powder, flour and baking soda among others.
Street Names For Cocaine
Cocaine has a wide variety of street names. Among those are Coke, Dust, Toot, Line, Nose Candy, Snow. Sneeze, Powder, Girl, White Pony, Flake, C, The Lady, Cain, sniff, Neurocain, chop, chip and Rock. “Crack” cocaine is also called freebase, white, light, smoke or C.
Crack cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant that is derived from powdered cocaine. Crack is made by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water, ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) among others. The mixture is boiled until a solid substance forms. It is removed from the liquid, dried and then broken into the chunks (rocks) that are then sold as crack cocaine.
Due to its availability and intense effects, crack is also popular and slowly overtaking “traditional” Cocaine as it is cheaper and can have a stronger effect. Health risks and problems resulting from crack use are the same as those listed for cocaine. However, because of the intensity of the drug, carries a higher risk of illness or injury to both your physical and mental health.
Crack is almost always smoked, delivering a large quantity of the drug into the lungs. This produces an immediate and intense euphoric and energetic effect.
Are Their Any Other Interactions With Other Substances Or Medications?
There are quite a few known interactions between cocaine and other substances, including over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications & illicit drugs and alcohol.
The most serious cocaine interactions tend to involve any of the following substances:
- Antipsychotic medications
- Antidepressant medications
Other potential adverse interactions with cocaine include:
- Psychedelics, such as LSD, DMT, and magic mushrooms
- Dissociative drugs, such as ketamine (special K), DXM, and PCP
- MDMA (molly, ecstasy)
Is It Possible To Become Addicted To Cocaine?
Cocaine has a high potential for addiction. You can develop a tolerance to it after just a few uses. This means you need more of a substance to get the same effect you previously did.
The more you use it, the higher your risk for developing an addiction to cocaine.
The risk of addiction is even higher with crack cocaine because its effects are more immediate and more intense and even greater when injected with heroin (speedball/eightball).
Combining cocaine with alcohol and other substances also increases the risk of addiction.
Signs and symptoms of a cocaine addiction can include:
- Needing more of it to get high
- Not being able to stop or use less
- Withdrawal symptoms when you stop using it
- Continuing to use it in spite of negative consequences
- Negative impact on your personal life, work life or both
- Spending excessive time sourcing or getting cocaine or spending money on cocaine that you can’t afford or spending money that is meant to be for another use
- Hallucinations, psychosis or worsening mental health
- Using cocaine in spite of it damaging or having negative consequences on your physical health
More often than not, the majority of symptoms tend to be psychologically related rather than physical, however becoming physically dependant is still possible, as it is with any substance.
What About Other Risks?
Aside from addiction, cocaine poses several other risks, which can include:
Cocaine is particularly rough on the heart and overall cardiovascular system.
Using it can increase your risk for heart-related issues, including:
- High blood pressure
- Inflammation of the heart muscle
- Aortic dissection
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Heart attack
Nasal (Nose) Issues
Snorting cocaine can do cause serious damage to your nasal tissues.
When you snort cocaine, the lining of your nasal passages become inflamed. Over time, this can lead to:
- Loss of smell
- Chronic rhinitis
- Trouble swallowing
- Septum being eroded away
Long-term or frequent use can break down tissue, causing sores. In severe cases, the septum (the cartilage between your nostrils) can develop a hole or disappear completely.
Blood-Borne Infections & Viruses
Cocaine use carries a high risk of contracting bloodborne infections, including HIV and hepatitis C.
Injecting it carries the highest risk of blood-borne infections and viruses but you can also contract infections by smoking and snorting coke too.
All of these methods involve the use of a device, like a needle, pipe or straw. Sharing any of these can introduce infection into the bloodstream through your veins or through small cuts or sores in the mucus membranes in your nose.
Skin & vein damage
Injecting coke can cause skin bruising, infections, ulcers or scarring and lead to collapsed veins, damage to your skin or even cause sepsis. Snorting can damage your mucous membranes, causing inflammation and sores in and around your nostrils too.
Mental health issues
Long-term cocaine use can cause auditory and tactile hallucinations, meaning you can hear and feel things that aren’t there.
Harm Reduction & Safety Tips
If you’re going to do cocaine, keep these tips in mind to reduce some of the risks as much as you possibly can:
- Test your coke. Cocaine is often cut with other substances, some of which can be harmful and even deadly, such as fentanyl. You can purchase cocaine testing kits. If you can’t afford one, try only using the smallest amount possible until you know how strong it is.
- Be clean & organised. Never share needles syringes, spoons, gauze, citric/Vit C sachets, pipes, bank notes or straws. Always inspect your equipment before using it. Check pipes and straws for chips, holes, bodily fluids or damage. Make sure needles and syringes are sterile, new and used only once.
- Go low & slow. Stick to a low dose and avoid reusing for as long as you can. Consider only keeping a small amount accessible to you during a using session rather than buying in bulk. It may be a bit more expensive but will better for your health and safety!
- Don’t mix substances. Combining cocaine with other substances or medication increases the risk of adverse interactions and possibly end up with fatal consequences. Don’t use coke with alcohol or any other substances or medication if you can.
- Avoid cocaine if you have heart issues. Stay away from coke if you have high blood pressure or any other heart or circulatory related conditions.
- Never use alone! Always have someone with you or nearby in case things go wrong and you need help quickly. It should be someone you trust who knows how to spot the signs of an overdose, how to help you in an emergency and also knows all of the substances and medications that you’ve been using so that they can pass all the information on to the ambulance service and know what to do until the ambulance arrives.
Recognising An Overdose & Knowing What To Do To Help
Call 999 or your local emergency services number straight away if you or anyone else experiences any of the following signs or symptoms:
- Irregular heart rhythm or pulse
- Trouble breathing or short of breath
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Extreme agitation/restlessness
- Loss of consciousness
Don’t worry about Police getting involved. Saving a life outweighs Police intervention.
If you’re looking after someone else, get them into the recovery position by laying them on their side with their body supported by a bent knee and head tilted upwards. This position helps keep their airway open by stopping the tongue blocking the airway and can prevent choking in case they begin to vomit.
How To Perform The Recovery Position
Legal status Of Cocaine
Cocaine and crack are controlled as Class A drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It is illegal to be in possession of either crack or cocaine or to supply them to other people. Maximum penalties for possession are 7 years imprisonment plus a fine and for supply and/or production, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment plus a fine.
In practice, maximum sentences are rarely used. For more information see our article on UK drug laws.
Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine creates a strong sense of exhilaration, energy and euphoria. Users generally feel invincible, carefree, alert, euphoric and suddenly develop a lot of energy. This is usually followed by agitation, restlessness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, sweating, decreased appetite and inability to urinate. The effects of cocaine generally last up to one hour depending on its strength, what other substances have been cut and added to it, whether it is cocaine or crack and finally, how it was administered. For example, injecting and smoking it will last longer than rubbing it into your gums.
Dangers of Cocaine Use
Cocaine can be a potent and dangerous drug. The short-term and long-term effects of cocaine are equally serious. The most serious danger is death, resulting in cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory failure. This can occur at anytime during short or long-term use. Other effects of the drug include:
- Loss of appetite
- Blurred vision
- High anxiety
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Nasal infections
- Rapid breathing
- Violent or energetic behavior
- Chest pain
- Inability to urinate
- Need to pass stools quickly
- Lack of focus on one task only
- Speaking quickly, not making sense or talking about irrelevant things
The long-term effects of using cocaine can include extreme agitation, restlessness, violent/agitated mood swings and depression among others. Prolonged use of snorting cocaine cause ulcerations in the mucous membrane of the nose and holes in the barrier separating the nostrils (the septum). Those who inject it can get skin damage, infections, ulcers, blood-borne viruses, sepsis, coma or death.
It can also result in a loss of appetite, extreme insomnia as well as sexual problems. Heart disease, heart attacks, respiratory failure, developing breathing/lung conditions such as asthma or COPD, strokes, seizures and gastrointestinal problems are not uncommon among long-term users of cocaine and crack.
Is It Safe To Use With Alcohol?
Cocaine and alcohol make for a deadly combination that can be life threatening.
The combination leads to the production of a metabolite called cocaethylene, which is considerably stronger than cocaine or alcohol alone. When using cocaine with alcohol, your inhibitions are lowered, meaning that you are more likely to use or drink more, worsening the possible effects and also leave yourself open to other risky or dangerous behaviours.
Cocaine is highly addictive, leaving users with an overwhelming psychological craving for the drug. The addiction to crack develops quickly, sometimes after just a few times of smoking it.
Those addicted to cocaine or crack can find help with behavioural treatments including both residential and outpatient approaches such as residential rehabilitation facilities or community based drug and alcohol services. Contact information for your nearest drug and alcohol service can be found on our help and support page here along with other charities and organisations that can help you with support and treatment options and facilities.