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What is Cocaine?

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Cocaine is one of the most popular recreational drugs in the UK and in continues to be the go-to drug of choice on a night out.

Cocaine is a white powder that is manufactured from the leaves of the Coca plant. This plant is grown in warm, damp areas in South American countries such as Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

In the past, Cocaine was seen as a drug for the rich and famous, crime bosses and kingpins (think Scarface). More recently, it is less exclusive; cheaper and widely available, making it more likely to be used in the toilets in the bowling club during your grannies 60th Birthday party than you think.

It's also been used for some weird things in the past. Cocaine was originally marked as a 'cure-all wonder drug' by doctors back in the 19th century. In 1884 it was even used on a patients eye as an anaesthetic as it stopped the eye from moving and controlled bleeding during surgery.

Interestingly, cocaine was also used as one of Coca Cola's main ingredients when it was launched, but by 1902 the side effects of cocaine started to show and there was an estimated 200,000 addicts in America alone.

This blog post will outline some key facts on Cocaine. So if you decide to use it in the future you will be more aware of its effects and the tell-tale signs of overdose.

Nicknames/Street Names

coke, charlie, gear, snow, el Chapo, ching, clobber, sniff, prop, 50/50, council

How is it used?

Picture (Wikimedia commons)

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that is commonly snorted as a powder. It generally comes in a fine, white power although sometimes it can be tougher, like small little white rocks. Cocaine powder has a bitter chemical taste and smell.

Cocaine powder is often cut up into short lines and then sniffed up the nose through a rolled-up banknote or straw. Sometimes small amounts are sniffed directly using a fingernail or back of the hand.

The effects can wear off quite quickly so heavy users can get through several grams in a relatively short time and it can become quite an expensive habit.

Cocaine can also be turned into a liquid and injected. This is the most dangerous way to take the drug.

Crack cocaine is another form of cocaine that is smoked through a pipe. Crack cocaine comes in rock form. Today we are just focusing on cocaine but lookout for a future blog that will look at crack cocaine in more detail. From a crack pipe to instant addictive feels.

The Effects and Risks

How you react to cocaine depends on several factors including:

· What the cocaine is cut with (most of the cocaine on the streets will be mixed with something else e.g. pro plus and benzocaine, which can cause a numbing effect).

· The kind of mood you are in.

· Who you are with.

· How much you use.

Cocaine can make you feel alert, energetic, talkative and more confident than usual but it can also cause some pretty unpleasant effects:

· Dry mouth

· Sweating

· Loss of appetite

· Increased heart rate

· Anxious

· Panicky

· Disturbed sleep pattern

· Paranoia

· Restlessness

The Come Down

We want to talk about 'coming down’ from your cocaine use. This is the after-effects of taking drugs which can last for several hours or even days. Comedowns will differ from person to person and the symptoms can be both physical and emotional.

These can include:

-Anxiety – commonly (and locally) known as ‘The Fear’.

-Difficulty sleeping and lack of motivation.

-Trouble concentrating or poor short-term memory.


-Short-tempered (which could be due to lack of sleep).

It is always good to remember that a comedown won’t last forever, it’s just the drugs leaving your system, so try and look after yourself and (if possible) hang out with people that make you feel good. Eat a healthy balanced diet, drink plenty fluids and try and relax.

Harm Reduction

  • Start with a small dose (purity can be different each time. The cocaine could be getting cut with different things).

  • Avoid mixing with other drugs. Mixing alcohol and cocaine can result in the body creating cocaethylene in the liver. Cocaethylene remains in the body longer than alcohol or cocaine alone and puts extra stress on the heart and liver.

  • Do not share snorting or injecting equipment. This increases the risk of blood-born viruses (BBV).

  • Cut up your lines carefully. This will help reduce the chance of nose bleeds and BBV.

Overdose Signs and Symptoms

Anyone can overdose using cocaine, so be careful and look out for overdose symptoms.

A stimulant overdose can often look like:

  • Hot and flushed sweaty skin

  • Headache and chest pain

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Severe agitation or panic

If you are worried about someone, you can:

  • Call an ambulance (you won’t get in trouble for doing this, even if drugs are involved)

  • Keep an eye on the persons breathing

  • If no response, move them into the recovery position

  • Stay with the person until paramedics arrive

  • If you can, tell the paramedic as much information as possible (the drug taken, the dosage)

Useful links and further reading

Due to the popularity and accessibility, cocaine can get delivered quicker than a pizza, leading some people to use cocaine more often. Below are some useful

websites with further information if you’re concerned about someone’s use:

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