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Cocaine is a stimulant drug that speeds up messages sent to and from your brain. It doesn't mix well with other drugs, and it's possible to overdose if you take too much.

This can help if:

  • you want to know what cocaine is
  • you’re curious about what cocaine does to you
  • you’re thinking of taking cocaine and want to know the side effects.
Powdered drug on black counter

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug extracted from the coca plant. In Australia, cocaine is most commonly taken in powder form. It's also possible to make cocaine into forms that can be smoked, called freebase or crack. In Australia, some people call crystal meth crack as well.

Other common names for cocaine include coke, blow, snow, white, powder, base and candy.

What does cocaine do to you?

As with all drugs, how you react to cocaine depends on many factors, including your size, mood, and whether or not you use drugs regularly. Some common effects immediately after taking it include:

  • feeling really confident and happy
  • being alert and full of energy.

Physically, you might:

  • have a faster heart rate
  • have raised blood pressure
  • have a higher body temperature
  • be less hungry
  • feel horny.

In the longer term, excessive use of cocaine can cause:

  • trouble sleeping
  • impotence
  • nosebleeds
  • sinus damage
  • increased risk of heart attack, stroke and breathing problems
  • addiction
  • psychosis
  • rage and violence
  • relationship problems
  • problems with completing work or study.

Other issues with cocaine

  • Using in combo with other drugs: Cocaine doesn’t mix well with other drugs, especially alcohol. When cocaine and alcohol are used together, they form a toxic sludge in your bloodstream called cocaethylene, which damages your heart. It's also dangerous for the heart to combine cocaine with other stimulant drugs such as speed or pills, or depressant drugs, such as heroin or ketamine.
  • Overdose: Someone who's overdosed on cocaine may not know they're in danger. Signs of overdose include paranoia, vomiting, hallucinations, chest pains and seizures. If you see these symptoms in someone, or if they happen to you, call an ambulance.
  • Addiction: Cocaine is extremely addictive, which means that people who have used it a few times will start to crave the feeling it gives them. If you think you’re addicted to cocaine, try using ReachOut NextStep to find the right help for you.

What can I do now?