Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that is associated with many serious consequences. Cocaine users may feel that it helps them have a good time, but users risk health issues as well as financial and social problems. Cocaine use has also been linked to criminal behaviour and can be fatal.
What is cocaine?
Cocaine is made from the leaves of the South American coca bush and is a stimulant, which means it speeds up the messages going to and from your brain.
Cocaine is a white powder with a bitter, numbing taste that comes in three main forms: cocaine hydrochloride, freebase and crack.
Cocaine hydrochloride is mixed with other substances and typically snorted through the nose, or injected, rubbed into the gums or added to food and drinks. Freebase and crack cocaine are usually smoked.
Cocaine is also called blow, Charlie, dust, flake, nose candy, snow, white, crack, rock and freebase.
People who use cocaine get a rush, making them feel happy, confident and alert. But they also have a racing heart, tremors, reduced appetite, overheating and sweating. People who use cocaine regularly can have fits, poor sexual performance, kidney failure, poor mental function and an increased risk of contracting infectious diseases by sharing needles. Snorting cocaine can also damage the inside of your nose including destroying the septum (middle part) of your nose, leading to collapse of the nose. Cocaine can harm your unborn baby if you use it while you are pregnant.
An overdose can cause seizures, or a stroke or a heart attack, leading to coma and death. If you think someone has overdosed on cocaine, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance. Ambulance officers don’t have to call the police.
Find out about cocaine’s mental health effects.
Cocaine is highly addictive. Withdrawal symptoms last for up to 10 weeks, but intermittent cravings for cocaine can last much longer. Withdrawal symptoms include cravings, agitation, anxiety, an inability to feel pleasure and lack of energy.
Find information about how to find help on the Drug Help website or by calling the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
Last reviewed: January 2019