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What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that comes from the coca plant. It’s generally sold as a white powder that people sniff.
Some people inject cocaine to get more intense hit, but this is much more dangerous.
Crack is a smokeable form of cocaine which can be especially addictive.
Why would people use cocaine?
People take cocaine to feel more confident, lively and energetic.
The way cocaine affects the chemicals in the brain can make people feel more alert and in control.
This means cocaine is often thought of as a sociable drug.
But there are serious risks
Cocaine is expensive and very addictive. A cocaine habit may mean that you don’t have money to pay for other things and you might get into debt.
Stimulant drugs like cocaine make the heart work harder than normal to keep the body up with what the brain wants it to do. This can cause a stroke or heart attack. These risks are increased when cocaine is mixed with alcohol.
Cocaine can also make the body temperature rise and cause fits as a result. This is especially likely in hot environments like nightclubs.
Cocaine use impacts on how the brain works. People using cocaine can suffer from paranoia, anxiety, psychosis and may develop other mental health problems.
As with any stimulant what goes up must come down. A cocaine comedown can leave people feeling drained, depressed and even suicidal.
People taking cocaine can become over – confident or aggressive and get themselves into risky situations including unsafe or unplanned sex.
Sniffing cocaine can cause damage to the nose. People using cocaine in this way may get problems such as ulcers, nosebleeds and damage to the septum (so you could end up with just one big nostril).
Anyone sharing notes or straws when snorting cocaine (or sharing needles if injecting) is at risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis or HIV. Injecting any drug carries the risk of vein damage, blood clots and developing abscesses.
Cocaine is a Class A drug.
This means that if you are caught in possession of cocaine you could get sent to prison for up to 7 years.
If you are found dealing cocaine you could get a life sentence.
Sentences can also come with an unlimited fine.
There is no safe way of taking cocaine
The safest thing to do is not to take cocaine at all, but if you do not take it, here are some ways to reduce the risks:
- Don’t share straws or notes with your mates as diseases such as HIV and hepatitis can be passed on through tiny droplets of blood.
- Try to avoid mixing cocaine with alcohol or stimulants like speed or ecstasy because this increases the risks and may lead to overdose.
- Cocaine is a very greedy drug. When people buy more than they plan to use in a session it often leads to bingeing and makes overdoes more likely.
- If you are worried that you have taken too much cocaine seek emergency help. Don’t delay. Get to casualty or call an ambulance.
- If you are going to use cocaine, try and be with friends you trust to look after you in case problems occur.