Cocaine is also known as Coke, Charlie, Chang, Snow, Lines, White

Cocaine is a stimulant drug with powerful but short-lived effects. It originates from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. Powder cocaine, freebase and crack are all forms of cocaine. Powder cocaine is the most commonly-used version in the UK.

Cocaine & Alcohol - A dangerous combination?

See BBC Video on the effects of mixing Cocaine & Alcohol

Cocaine is a white powder. Crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed to make a white/off white rock crystal, about the size of a raisin. Freebase cocaine is described as a crystal-like powder.

The desired effects of cocaine use include feelings of increased confidence, energy and alertness, as well as a decrease in tiredness, appetite and sleep. Unwanted effects can include fear, irritation, anxiety, paranoia, impaired judgment and disturbed sleep. Cocaine and crack/freebase have similar effects only cocaine lasts longer and is less intense and crack/freebase are very intense but only last a short period of time.

Cocaine powder is typically divided into lines and then snorted up the nose. Freebase and crack cocaine are usually smoked in a pipe, glass tube, plastic bottle or in foil. Some people also choose to inject it.

  • Cocaine is psychologically addictive and can become an expensive habit.
  • People who use cocaine can suffer heart attacks or strokes. The risk increases for anyone who has high blood pressure or a heart condition.
  • The comedown sometimes lasts for days after and can often make people feel depressed and run down.
  • You increase the risk to yourself if you combine alcohol with cocaine or another substance that causes a high.
  • Sharing injecting equipment risks infection with blood-borne viruses (BBVs) such as Hepatitis B or C, as well as HIV. There may be some risk of getting a BBV through sharing snorting or smoking equipment but the evidence for this is less clear.
  • Snorting cocaine long-term can cause severe damage to the cartilage in your nose.
  • If you choose to use cocaine, then use it in a safe environment and in the company of someone you trust. Ideally, this person will not have used the drug themselves and will be in a position to get help if things go wrong.
  • Take small amounts first to test strength and effects; start low and go slow.
  • The use of cocaine with alcohol or other substances should be avoided.
  • If you suffer from any kind of heart condition, you should avoid stimulant drugs like cocaine.
  • Cocaine can be habit forming and tolerance can build up. Don’t use too frequently and take regular breaks.
  • Do not share snorting or injecting equipment. If you choose to inject then get safer injecting advice either from us, your local drug agency or nearest needle exchange.