What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a very addictive drug made from
the leaves of the coca plant. It affects the
brains chemical nerves. Cocaine users feel
more energy and are more alert. There is an
elevated or euphoric mood.
How is cocaine used?
Cocaine can be either a white powder that is
snorted or dissolved in water and injected.
Crack cocaine is a form of freebase cocaine
that can be smoked. The effect of snorting
cocaine lasts about 30 minutes. Smoking
crack or injecting cocaine produces a
quicker and more intense effect and lasts
about 10 minutes. Cocaine is often
repeatedly used in short periods called
“binging”. After using cocaine repeatedly
tolerance or, needing higher amounts to
attain the same effect develops. There is no
“safe” cocaine use.
How does cocaine affect health?
There can be short and long term effects on
ξ Heart: Cocaine increases your heart
rate and blood pressure. It constricts
the arteries that supply blood to the
heart. It can also trigger an abnormal
heart rhythm. Heart attack risk
increases with cocaine use.
ξ Lungs: Snorting cocaine damages
the nose and sinuses leading to loss
of smell, nosebleeds and problems
swallowing. Smoking crack cocaine
irritates the lungs and can lead to
ξ Brain: Cocaine can block the blood
supply to the brain causing loss of
brain function or strokes. Cocaine
can also lead to seizures.
ξ Mood: Cocaine use makes people feel
restless and may produce panic attacks
What to expect with cocaine
The initial “crash” of cocaine withdrawal
can happen within hours of last using it.
Withdrawal symptoms may last up to
several days. The most common symptom is
a strong craving to use cocaine again. Mood
changes are common including feeling more
depressed or anxious and irritable. Many
people feel very tired yet have trouble
sleeping or have vivid and unpleasant
dreams. Some people feel achy and chilled.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to
help ease symptoms for a few days.
Once you decide to quit, now what?
Congratulations! It can be a hard decision to
quit. There is help and you don’t have to do
it alone. Counseling has proved to be very
effective in helping people quit.
Counseling services in your area:
Self help groups: Cocaine Anonymous -
For more general information or to take a
self quiz about addiction: www.ncadd.org/
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have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright ©7/2016. University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7546.