Drugs of Abuse: Cocaine

Understanding the Facts About Cocaine

Slang. Coke, Dust, Toot, Snow, Blow, Sneeze, Powder, Lines, Rock (Crack)

Cocaine affects your brain. The word "cocaine" refers to the drug in both a powder (cocaine) and crystal (crack) form. It is made from the coca plant and causes a short-lived high that is immediately followed by the opposite sensation—intense feelings of depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug. Cocaine may be snorted as a powder, converted to a liquid form for injection with a needle, or processed into a crystal form to be smoked.

Cocaine affects your body. People who use cocaine often don't eat or sleep regularly. They can experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms, and convulsions. If they snort cocaine, they can also permanently damage their nasal tissue.

Cocaine affects your emotions. Using cocaine can make you feel paranoid, angry, hostile, and anxious, even when you're not high.

Cocaine is addictive. Cocaine interferes with the way your brain processes chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, so you need more and more of the drug just to feel normal. People who become addicted to cocaine start to lose interest in other areas of their life, like school, friends, and sports.

Cocaine can kill you. Cocaine use can cause heart attacks, seizures, strokes, and respiratory failure. People who share needles can also contract hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, or other diseases.

Know the law. Cocaine—in any form—is illegal.

Stay informed. Even first-time cocaine users can have seizures or fatal heart attacks.

Know the risks. Combining cocaine with other drugs or alcohol is extremely dangerous. The effects of one drug can magnify the effects of another, and mixing substances can be deadly.

Be aware. Cocaine is expensive. Regular users can spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on cocaine each week.

Stay in control. Cocaine impairs your judgment, which may lead to unwise decisions around sexual activity. This can increase your risk for HIV/AIDS, other diseases, rape, and unplanned pregnancy.

Know the Signs…

  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • A runny nose or frequent sniffing
  • A change in groups of friends
  • Acting withdrawn, depressed, tired, or careless about personal appearance
  • Losing interest in school, family, or activities he or she used to enjoy
  • Frequently needing money

Information provided by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Read More
Teen Mental Health and Substance Use

Adolescent Mental Wellness

What to do when teens face mental health and substance use disorders Read More >

Read More
How grandparents can talk to teens about their addiction

Talking to Your Grandchild on Addiction

How grandparents can talk to teens Read More >

Read More
Signs of addiction

7 Ways to Tell If Your Loved One Has an Addiction

Identifying an addiction in a loved one & talking about it with them. Read More >