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Get The Facts: Cocaine




Also Known As

Coke, crack, rock, nose candy, powder, sneeze, toot, flake, snow, blow.

What It Is

A stimulant drug derived from the coca plant, which grows in South America.

How It's Used

It can be snorted as a powder, smoked as crack or freebase, injected or chewed.

What It Looks Like

Cocaine usually comes as a white, powder-like substance diluted with sugar, crushed vitamins, flour, cornstarch and other powders. Crack looks like small "rocks," which are inserted into a pipe.

How It Works

Cocaine makes a beeline for the pleasure center of the brain, disrupting the balance of chemicals that keep your moods and emotions in check. Smoking or injecting cocaine takes it to the brain almost instantly. When snorted, some of the drug is processed by the liver and some reaches the brain.

The High

Cocaine's high involves feelings of euphoria, heightened alertness, increased sex drive and decreased desire for sleep and food. Some cocaine users feel hyper when they're high, and others report feeling more powerful and confident.

Side Effects

Many people feel anxious, angry, confused or hostile when using cocaine. Blood vessels constrict, heart rate increases and temperature rises when the drug enters the body. Nosebleeds, hoarseness and a persistently runny nose can result from snorting cocaine repeatedly.


Cocaine can kill you, especially if you overdose. Cocaine-related deaths are caused by respiratory failure, abnormal heart rhythms, gangrene of the intestine, ruptured blood vessels and/or high body temperature. Frequent users of cocaine often experience agitation, depression and/or insomnia.


Whether snorting, smoking or injecting, many people need more cocaine each time they use to achieve the high they're used to. The high that results from smoking or injecting cocaine is extremely powerful and addictive.
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