Commonly Used Illegal Drugs – Cocaine

Commonly Used Drugs - Cocaine

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug extracted from the leaves of the South American coca bush.

When processed, it is available in two forms, hydrochloride salt and freebase.  Hydrochloride salt is the powdered form of cocaine, it can be snorted, or dissolved in water and injected.  Freebase is the base form of cocaine, it’s sold as solid rock crystal and is “cooked” using heat and inhaled or “smoked”.

Crack cocaine is derivative of cocaine made by cooking hydrochloride salt with water and baking soda. It is also smoked, typically through a pipe.

How Does Cocaine Work?

Cocaine works by increasing the amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centre.  A spike in dopamine can create intense feelings of euphoria, energy, and alertness.

The way a person uses the drug affects the high that is experienced and the addictive potential of it.  Compared to other popular recreational drugs, the high obtained from cocaine is short-lived.  Injecting or smoking it produces an immediate 5 to 10-minute high; snorting, a more sustained 15 to 30-minute high.  As a result, users often binge on cocaine, using the drug repeated within a short amount of time, at increasingly higher doses, to maintain their high.  Tolerance to the drug builds quickly, and the need for more to experience the same high leads to dependence and addiction.

What are some of the most common street names?  

Coke, Blow, Snow, Flake, Toot, White, C, Nose Candy, Powder, Bump, Line, Rail, Stash, Aunt Nora, Dust, Bernice, Pearl, Big C, Big Rush, Big Flake.

How is it administered?

Cocaine is most often snorted, injected, inhaled, or smoked, but it can also be taken orally or inserted as a suppository.

What are the Short-Term Health Effects?

Increased heart rate and blood pressure; sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch; dizziness; headaches; loss of appetite; nosebleeds; nausea; tremors; euphoria; loss of judgment; irritability; aggressive behaviour; panic; paranoia; and hallucinations.

What are the Long-Term Health Effects?

Insomnia; sexual dysfunction; depression; anxiety; psychosis; seizures; respiratory problems; heart disease; liver damage; brain damage; heart attack; stroke; coma; overdose; and death.


If cocaine use has taken over your life or the life of a loved one, help is available. You can overcome cocaine addiction, call 1-877-353-2777The Farm in Stouffville is a private residential addiction treatment centre offering personalized drug and alcohol treatment and counselling.


Leave a Reply