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What’s the score?

Cocaine is also known as coke, Charlie, C, snow, blow, a toot, or Bolivian/Peruvian/Columbian marching powder.

Coke is a powerful stimulant and is made from the leaves of the South American coca shrub. It makes the brain release its natural ‘feel good’ chemical dopamine.

Coke usually comes as a powder. It’s often cut with impurities like baking soda, sugar, amphetamine or painkillers.

Freebase and crack, also known as rocks or stones, are both types of cocaine which have been treated to make them smokable. Crack cocaine is a less pure version of freebase cocaine and comes as small, dirty white/light brown rock-like pieces. Crack has a more powerful high than cocaine and is even more addictive.

Taking cocaine/crack cocaine

Coke is normally divided into lines on a smooth surface, then snorted through a straw or rolled up bank note. Other ways of taking it are smoking it or rubbing it into the gums or arsehole.

Crack is smoked in a pipe, glass tube, plastic bottle, or from foil.

There are tips to make taking cocaine or crack safer here.

Highs and lows

A hit with either coke or crack comes on fast, usually within a minute, making you feel exhilarated, alert, full of energy, confident, sociable, talkative and physically strong. It stops you feeling hungry or tired and kills pain. Effects last for up to half an hour if you snort it and less if it’s smoked or injected. The drugs push up your body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate, and can cause chest pain and irregular heart beat even in healthy people. People who use coke or crack are much more likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t use them. Cocaine and crack use is also linked to strokes and seizures. 

Comedown symptoms include feeling down, rough, agitated, tired and craving for more of the drug.

Sudden death is more likely with large doses but smaller doses can kill, especially if someone has sensitivity to the drug. Around 200 cocaine-related deaths are reported each year in the UK.

Sex on coke/crack

Both drugs can make you feel physically strong, horny, more sexually aggressive or confident, and with more stamina for longer sessions. Your sense of touch can be heightened, and you might get longer, stronger orgasms. As your inhibitions are lowered, you might be more likely to have unsafe sex. Cocaine's pain-killing effect can lead to rougher sex, making your cock and arse sore or bleed. You might not notice this damage but it makes it easier for HIV, hepatitis C and other infections to be passed on. Problems getting a hard-on, difficulty coming and lower sex drive can be other side effects, especially if the dose is big or you take it for a long time.

Find out more about drugs and sex here.

A long term relationship?

As your tolerance builds to both cocaine and crack, more will be needed to get the same high. Coke has a reputation for being more addictive than most chems and crack is even more addictive. The drugs can cause lasting damage to how the brain works and, given the drug’s price, becoming addicted can ruin you financially.

Using cocaine or crack for a long time, or large doses, can cause panic attacks, hallucinations, depression, paranoia, and psychosis. Snorting coke can, over time, destroy the lining of the nose and the skin between nostrils called the septum.

Coke/crack with other drugs

Alcohol – using booze together with coke or crack makes the bad effects of both worse and can give you the illusion of being sober when you’re drunk. These drugs mix together in the body with alcohol to make cocaethylene, a toxin that damages the brain, liver and heart. This is the reason for the bigger risk of sudden death in people using alcohol and coke or crack together.

Speed, Crystal meth, Ecstasy, or Viagra – mixing these drugs with coke or crack means even more pressure on the heart and circulatory system, with a bigger risk of stroke and heart attack.

Anti-depressants – taking cocaine or crack when you’re on some anti-depressants can cause ‘serotonin syndrome’. This could be dangerous and causes symptoms like a fast heart beat, sweating, muscle spasms, and not being able to sleep. You need to seek urgent medical help if this happens to you. If you’re on anti-depressants check with a doctor before using these drugs.

HIV drugs – as the body processes these differently than cocaine or crack, there are no known dangerous interactions.

Useful to know

If you share straws or bank notes to snort coke tiny amounts of blood could go from the lining of one person’s nose to another. This might possibly spread blood borne viruses like hepatitis C. The same could happen if crack pipes are passed from a mouth with ulcers or burns to another person’s mouth.

Rubbing coke into the arsehole will make it numb and irritate the skin. This makes it more likely someone will pick up or pass on infections, including HIV. 

Rougher, longer sex sessions mean there is more risk of condoms breaking, so putting a fresh one on after fucking for about 30 minutes is recommended.

These drugs make the heart beat harder and push up the blood pressure so should be avoided if you’ve got high blood pressure or a heart condition. They should be avoided by people with a history of mental health problems too.

The law

Cocaine and crack are both Class A drugs. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Intending to supply cocaine (including giving it to mates) can mean up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Read our page on Drugs and the police for advice if you’re arrested.

More info

Cocaine Anonymous
Phone: 0207 284 1123 (10am-10pm every day)
www.cauk.org.uk

This article was last reviewed on: 28/10/11
Date due for next review: 28/10/14


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