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Cocaine and mental health

2-minute read

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug made from the leaves of the South American coca bush. Long-term users risk social and financial problems, and use has been linked to criminal behaviour. Users can also become psychotic.

Cocaine comes in three forms: cocaine hydrochloride, freebase and crack. Cocaine hydrochloride is a white powder usually mixed or ‘cut’ with other substances. It is typically snorted through the nose, but it can be injected, rubbed into the gums or added to food and drinks. Freebase is also a white powder, but crack cocaine is generally found in the form of larger crystals. Freebase and crack are usually smoked.

Cocaine is also known as coke, charlie, pepsi, blow, C and nose candy. Crack cocaine is also known as rock, base and sugar block.

Cocaine effects

Cocaine is a stimulant, which means it speeds up the messages going to and from your brain. Cocaine is highly addictive, and users crave the same experience over and over again. Learn about the many physical health effects of cocaine.

Mental health issues

Users might feel happy, bright and alert after taking cocaine, but there are downsides. Users can feel paranoid and agitated, have hallucinations, take risks, ignore pain and display unpredictable or violent behaviour.

Long-term users often feel depression, exhausted and can't sleep. They can become psychotic with delusions and hallucinations, and can act in strange, aggressive or violent ways.

Coming down after using cocaine can take days. Users can feel tense and anxious, depressed and tired, and up and down.

Find out about so called party drugs, including where to find help and support.

Not sure what to do next?

If you or someone you know are finding it difficult to manage issues as a result of drug use, try healthdirect’s symptom checker and get advice on when to seek professional help.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Kicking the habit

Kicking a cocaine habit is challenging. Users typically crash in the first few days after stopping use. Withdrawal can last about 10 weeks. People withdrawing have cravings and feel tired, anxious, angry and depressed.

Find help on the National Drugs Campaign and Druginfo websites.

You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Druginfo on 1300 85 85 84 if you need to talk to someone about drugs.

Last reviewed: July 2017

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