Cocaine

Cocaine is a stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant which is mainly found in South America.

Other names

Charlie, coke, ching, snow, flake, fishscale

Appearance

White, pearly powder

Drugs Wheel Category

Stimulants

Legality

Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) – Class A.
Penalties for possession are up to 7 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Penalties for supply are up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

How it’s taken

Powder is usually snorted but it may be dabbed on gums,  swallowed in a cigarette paper (bombed) or injected. Injecting is almost always the riskiest way of taking drugs and is strongly discouraged.

Effects

Effects of cocaine when snorted are almost instant. Effects wear off after around 20-30 minutes which can cause an urge to re-dose. After effects may be felt for up to 1 hour.

Tolerance to cocaine can build up quickly and there can be a strong urge to re-dose.

Cocaine can make you feel energetic and confident. It also increases your heart rate and breathing. People using it can experience a high with increased alertness, focus and sex drive, as well as a decreased appetite and a strong urge to re-dose. Other effects include restlessness, aggression, paranoia and over-confidence. Cocaine can affect your sleeping pattern which can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing. Cocaine can also cause numbness/stop you feeling pain in the area of the body it touches, increasing the risk of accidental harm.

Risks

  • Cocaine can cause numbness/stop you feeling pain in the area of the body it touches, increasing the risk of accidental harm.
  • May increase over-confidence, aggression, sexual arousal, decrease desire for sleep and reduce appetite.
  • Use safe sex practices – drugs can lower inhibitions!
  • Cocaine can affect your sleeping pattern which can have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing.
  • Risk of dependence because of how cocaine interacts with your brain and how you feel pleasure
  • Risk of strain on heart and liver
  • Risk of damage to the skin around and inside your nose from contact with powder
  • Mixing with alcohol, prescription medication or any other drugs risks unexpected, harmful and unpleasant effects
  • Mixing cocaine and alcohol produces cocaethylene in your body; a chemical which is thought to be 16 times more harmful for your heart, causes liver damage and potentially creates a higher risk of addiction
  • Mixing cocaine with alcohol can change your perception of how strongly you feel the effects of either drug but will not “sober you up”.
  • Cocaine also dulls the effects of MDMA meaning people may take more of each substance in an attempt to reach the desired effects but will only put more strain on their body.

Harm reduction

All drug use has its risks, but if you choose to take powder cocaine then the following steps can help to reduce harm:
  • You should spend at least two hours researching any drug that you plan to take
  • Remember that you cannot judge content or purity by appearance.
  • There is no standard amount of cocaine in powder so there can be differences in strength, even within each batch.
  • Cocaine strength in Scotland can vary from 9-90% so a new batch could be stronger than anything you have had before– start low and go slow.
  • Cocaine can be mixed with other substances such as levisamol (used by vets to de-worm animals) or creatine. The long term risks of levisamol are not known but people have reported lower immune systems and skin issues
  • Avoid mixing with alcohol, prescription medication or any other drugs, as the effects may be unexpected or harmful and unpleasant. Drugs affect people differently, more so if mixed.
  • Avoid mixing cocaine and alcohol as this mixture produces cocaethylene; a chemical which is more harmful and can increase side effects.
  • Use safe sex practices – drugs can lower inhibitions!
  • Like all stimulant drugs, cocaine can affect your sleeping pattern which can have an impact on your mental wellbeing.
  • Avoid rubbing on to the gums – this cause gum damage and long term dental problems

If snorting:

  • Grind or crush substances finely before snorting
  • Use a straw or paper as a ‘tooter/snorter’ rather than money (which can cause small cuts inside your nose) and throw away after use
  • Position the ‘tooter/snorter’ as high up the nostril as possible
  • Don’t share your ‘tooter/snorter’ with anyone else (this could spread viruses)
  • Alternate nostrils to reduce damage
  • Rinse out your nose with sterile water after each session to reduce damage to sensitive tissue.
  • Vitamin E oil can reduce damage to nose if applied in a thin layer inside after rinsing out, like you would lip balm
  • Look after your pals and seek medical help as soon as possible if anyone falls unwell. Be honest about what you know they have taken.

Detection time

People taking powder cocaine have reported the following detection time, but this cannot be taken as a recommendation; detection of any drug will depend on purity, regularity of use, other medications or drugs you have taken, your body and how it’s taken.
  • 3-4 days in urine