Fact Sheet – Cocaine



Snorted, smoked or injected, cocaine is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Acute tolerance develops quickly. This along with the drug’s strong reinforcement properties, makes it highly addictive.

Signs of Intoxication: In low doses: feelings of well being and elation soon followed by anxiety depression and paranoia. In High doses: rapid respiration, incoordination, anxiety and paranoia. Onset of tremors, nausea, convulsive seizures.

Withdrawal symptoms: Sleep and eating disorders, depression, anxiety, craving for the drug, impulsive and compulsive behavior, malnutrition.


  • Mind & Behavior: Delusions, sleep deprivation, depression, anxiety disorders, paranoia, violent behavior, alert perceptions of reality which can lead to aggressive or homicidal behavior; violent psychotic disorders which could last days or weeks after the drug has been stopped.
  • Central Nervous System: Directly stimulated.
  • Heart & Blood: Rapid or irregular heartbeat, hypertension, constricted blood vessels and arteries. In large doses: ruptured blood vessels: may cause death due to heart attack or cardiac failure.
  • Brain: Constricted blood vessels and decrease blood flow to some brain areas can lead to tissue damage, stroke, hemorrhage, and permanent brain damage.
  • Nose: Injury to the nasal passages from snorting.
  • Lungs: Lung abnormalities and edema (excess watery fluid). Respiratory depression which can cause death.
  • Liver: Danger of liver failure, high incidence of hepatitis in intravenous users due to unsterile/shared needles.
  • Kidneys: Damage, failure.
  • Gastrointestinal System: Abnormal difficulties which may require surgery; damage tract.
  • Bones & Muscles: Rhabdomyolysis (potentially fatal disease destroying skeletal muscle).
  • Sexual Organs: Sexual dysfunction is common in heavy users.
  • Fetus: Risk of disease transmitted by unsterile or shared needles (hepatitis AIDS); risk of chronic heart and connective tissue diseases; risk of severe weight loss and malnutrition due to decrease appetite.

” CRACK ” or ” ROCK ”

Free-based, alkalinized cocaine. Smoked. Users face greater risks of dying suddenly. Produce intense euphoria, followed within minutes by “crash”. Leads to frequent dosing and very rapid addiction.