Cocaine is an upper that lasts about half an hour. It's dangerous to use regularly, and has both physical and mental effects. It doesn't mix well with other drugs, and it's possible for someone to overdose if they take too much. If you think you have a problem, there are things you can do to get help.

This could be for you if:

  • You want to know what cocaine is and does
  • You're thinking of taking cocaine, or already have
  • You want to know how to stay as safe as possible on cocaine
  • You want to get help dealing with cocaine
powdered drug on black background

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug extracted from the coca plant, and it's a stimulant with a short effect. In Australia, cocaine is most commonly taken in powder form. It's also possible to make coke into smokeable forms called freebase or crack. In Australia, some people call crystal meth “crack” as well.

What does cocaine do?

People will always react to drugs in different ways for a lot of reasons. But cocaine might make someone:
  • Feel really confident and happy 
  • Have a faster heartbeat, higher blood pressure and body temperature
  • Alert and full of energy
  • Less hungry
  • Horny
This all happens for no more than about half an hour after they take it

The downside 

Long term impacts of cocaine use can include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Becoming impotent
  • Nosebleeds
  • Sinus damage
  • Increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and breathing problems
It can also really mess with your head. It's possible to get hooked on coke, and it can lead to
  • Psychosis
  • Rage and violence
  • Relationship problems
  • Problems with whether you can complete work or study
It’s also illegal. If you’re caught with/using cocaine it could impact on where you can work, travel and study in the future if you're convicted.


Cocaine does not mix well with other drugs, especially alcohol. When cocaine and alcohol are mixed, they combine in your blood stream into a toxic sludge called cocaethylene, which damages your heart. It's also dangerous for the heart to combine it with other stimulant drugs like speed or pills, or depressant drugs, like heroin or ketamine.


If someone's overdosing on cocaine, they might:
  • Vomit 
  • Hallucinate 
  • Be extremely paranoid and anxious 
  • Have chest pains 
  • Act bizarrely
  • Have a fit 

Someone who's overdosed on cocaine may not know they're in danger. If you see these symptoms in someone, or it happens to you, call an ambulance.

If someone is paranoid or acting out a bit, give them plenty of space and don't try to argue or force them anywhere.

If they're overheating, move them somewhere cool until the ambulance arrives and have them sip water. Stay with them until the ambulance arrives to keep an eye on them.

Getting help

To find out more information and to get help with cocaine or other drug issues, check out the Australian Drug Information Network.

What can I do now?

  • In an emergency, call 000.
  • Don’t be pressured by friends into doing drugs.
  • Don’t mix with other drugs or alcohol.
Last reviewed: 06 August, 2015
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