Cocaine is a stimulant drug, which means that it speeds up the messages travelling between the brain and the rest of the body.
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), which is native to South America. The leaf extract is processed to produce 3 different forms of cocaine:
Cocaine hydrochloride: a white, crystalline powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lactose and glucose, to dilute it before being sold.
Freebase: a white powder that is more pure with less impurity than cocaine hydrochloride.
Crack: crystals ranging in colour from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue, it may contain impurities.1,2
C, coke, nose candy, snow, white lady, toot, Charlie, blow, white dust or stardust.
How is it used?
Cocaine hydrochloride is most commonly snorted. It can also be injected, rubbed into the gums, added to drinks or food.1
Freebase and crack cocaine are usually smoked.1
Indigenous people of South America have traditionally chewed the leaves of the coca bush, or brewed them as a tea, for use as a stimulant or appetite suppressant.3
Giving up cocaine after using it for a long time is challenging because the body has to get used to functioning without it.
It’s therefore important to talk to your GP or another health professional before trying to give up.
Phases of withdrawal
Withdrawal symptoms usually start around 1–2 days after last use and can last for approximately 10 weeks – days 4 to 7 will be the worst.
Withdrawal usually happens in 3 phases:
Crash – agitation, depression or anxiety, intense hunger, cocaine cravings, restless sleep, extreme tiredness (experienced in the first few days).
Withdrawal – cocaine cravings, lack of energy, anxiety, angry outbursts and an inability to feel pleasure (can last for up to 10 weeks).
Extinction – intermittent cravings for cocaine (ongoing).