Coke is potentially dangerous and addictive. It can give you a buzz but once you come crashing down, you feel like shit. A lot of people have to wean off it slowly and can get withdrawal symptoms. It can also cause some serious health problems if you have it regularly. Are we talking about Cocaine or Coca Cola? Read on to find out…

A young, blonde woman is staring at her phone. She is wearing a black cardigan and white top. She is looking up cocaine. This is a close-up image

What is cocaine? 

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that comes from the South American Coca plant. It gives you a powerful – but short-lived – high. In fact, after you’ve taken it your body becomes flooded with the happy hormone dopamine. Cocaine usually comes as a fine white powder.

What is crack? 

Crack is cocaine in a crystallised form. It’s more addictive than powder cocaine because the high is more intense and reaches the brain quicker. Crack cocaine is made by heating cocaine with bicarbonate of soda (and you thought that GCSE in Chemistry would never come in handy). These crystals are often called ‘rocks’.

How do you take it? 

Now that we’ve answered the question, ‘what is cocaine?’ we should probably tell you how it’s used. The powder is usually chopped into small lines and snorted using a rolled-up bank note. On the other hand, crack cocaine is usually smoked with a pipe on foil, or rolled-up in a ‘crack spliff’. Some people even inject cocaine and crack, but this is INCREDIBLY risky (and kinda dumb).

Why do people take it? 

  • It bombards you with happiness chemicals a.k.a dopamine, making you feel euphoric
  • You’re WIDE AWAKE (probably imagining you’re with Katy Perry). If you weren’t so happy, you could probably complete 10 million Sudokus because your concentration skills on coke are off the charts
  • It gives you a lot of confidence. While high, you’re convinced that you are, in fact, utterly and completely amazing at everything. So, maybe make sure all your friends’ phones are turned off before launching into a rendition of Hello at the top of your lungs.
  • Unlike boozing, when all you want is some comfort food, coke actually makes your appetite disappear
  • If you suddenly get in the mood when you’re high and are now thinking, does cocaine get you horny? Let’s just say, It gets you reaching for the condoms (or maybe just a box of tissues)

Keep in mind, this list is just for recreational users. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, chances are there’s some trauma behind it. To find out more, read our article here. You can also use resources such as the Amy Winehouse Foundation for support with treatment for cocaine addiction.

What are the bad side effects of coke? 

What does cocaine do to your body? It can lead to…

  • A racing heart and high blood pressure (can lead to seizures, strokes or even heart attacks)
  • Getting hot and sweaty
  • Large dilated pupils
  • Snorting it can give you nosebleeds or the ‘Columbian Cold’  It can also erode your nostrils so you end up with one giant one, where your two normal ones used to be. Read more on our coke and your nose article.

What does cocaine do to you mentally? It can…

  • Make you really paranoid
  • Give you scary hallucinations
  • Make you irritable and aggressive
  • Make you really, really confused

How long do the effects last? 

The question, ‘how long does coke last?’ kind of depends. If you snort a line of coke, the high lasts between 20 to 30 minutes. If you smoke crack, the high peaks for about two minutes and lasts for about 10 minutes overall.

Because the coke high is so short, there’s a temptation to reach for more as soon as the high ends. But coke is notoriously expensive, so your bank account will be crying by the end of night. Also, your body builds up a resistance quickly meaning you have to take more and more every time.

What’s the comedown like? 

The natural reaction to the comedown is “GIVE ME MORE COKE NOW, PLEASE”, which can be a tough urge to fight. After a coke binge, you can feel sad for a few days afterwards. You can also feel like you’ve got a bad cold or flu.

Is it addictive? 

Yes. Your next question is probably, ‘how addictive is cocaine?’ Very. It’s psychologically addictive because the high is so strong and so short-lived that you have to take more every time to get the same effect. This causes long-term effects such as addiction and health problems.

Crack is even more addictive because the high is shorter and people take more to avoid the ‘crash’.

Fun fact: When coca-cola was first made, the two main ingredients were cocaine and caffeine (hence the name). It eventually lost the coke part, but clearly kept its addictive properties.

Is crack purer than powder form

Actually no, not necessarily, but we understand the confusion. We tend to think of crystals as ‘pure’ but in recent police seizures, both crack and cocaine tested contained only about 30% cocaine. The other 70% is often made up of multiple other substances (some of which could also be harmful).

Should I mix cocaine with alcohol? 

That’s a hard no. Mixing cocaine with alcohol is dangerous because they produce something called ‘cocaethylene’ in your liver. It increases the risk of your heart beat being irregular, having a heart attack, fits, and even sudden death. Drinking alcohol even 12 hours after taking coke can do this.

To find out more about mixing drugs, click here.

How can I reduce the risks of taking coke? 

  • Do it with people you trust. Avoid using cocaine alone and never do it behind locked doors.
  • Don’t inject. It makes an overdose more likely and makes it much more addictive. Plus, if the cocaine isn’t pure, you can be injecting potentially fatal toxins right into your bloodstream.
  • Decide how much you’re going to take and DON’T go over what you decide. This will increase (or stabilise) your bank balance, and lower your likelihood of getting addicted.
  • Don’t take cocaine if you have high blood pressure or a heart condition.

It’s also important to note that you can’t reduce the risks of getting caught with coke by wiping your DNA from the bag, or anything like that. In fact, in terms of drug laws, the police’ll only charge you based on the circumstance. So, no need to buy that DNA cleaning kit from Amazon, it won’t do you any good. For more info on getting caught, click here. 

Is taking cocaine unethical? 

Umm, yes. It’s estimated that for every gram of cocaine snorted in the UK, someone has paid for it with their life. In fact, drug wars in Columbia and Mexico result in thousands of innocent people being murdered, kidnapped, trafficked and tortured.

You can read more about cocaine and human rights here.

Next Steps

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By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 25-Aug-2021