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A-Z of Drugs

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A-Z of drugs

 of Drugs

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Cocaine/Crack

Also known as:

Cocaine - Charlie, coke, dust, C, gold dust, Percy, lady, toot, snow, white, bugle, basuco and Gianlucca.    Crack - base, rocks, stones, wash, freebase, gravel,

Cocaine/crack and the law

Cocaine is a Class A drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

What is cocaine/crack?

Cocaine is a very strong stimulant which affects the nervous system.   It is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant and, like most powdered street drugs, it is heavily adulterated with similar looking substances such as powdered milk, glucose and vitamin C.

What does it look like?

Two of the most common types are cocaine powder (hydrochloride), and crack cocaine.   Crack cocaine is a smokable version of cocaine that is made into small rocks about the size of a raisin.

How is it used?

Cocaine powder is usually snorted up the nose or made into a solution and injected.   Crack cocaine is usually smoked in a pipe, plastic bottle, glass tube or foil.   

What are the effects?

Users feel a sense of well-being, alertness, confidence, and a craving of more.   The effects of cocaine are fast-acting, but are short-lived.   Users report a feeling of exhilaration, confidence and energy and it kills all feelings of pain, tiredness and hunger.   They may also experience a dry mouth, hot sweats, faster heart rate, runny nose and nasal irritation.   Before long, exhilaration is replaced by restlessness and nausea.

Crack has the same short-lived effects as cocaine but more intense.   Users can appear agitated, aggressive and experience paranoia.   The high can come with mood swings and hallucinations.

When do the effects start and how long do they last?

The effects of cocaine can be felt within 3 minutes and begin to fade between 30 and 40 minutes.   As crack cocaine is smoked it is absorbed easier.   The effects are immediate and they peak for about two minutes and last between 10 and 20 minutes before a low crash.  

What are the risks?

As the effects are short-lived users feel the desire to take more and more to recreate the high.   However, the more that is taken the bigger the downs become.   High doses can raise the body's temperature, cause convulsions and respiratory arrest.   Smoking too much crack can cause breathing problems and chest pains.   

Long-term use can make users vulnerable to malnutrition as cocaine is an appetite suppressant.   It can result in a range of mental health conditions, can lead to heart problems and can cause miscarriage and premature labour if taken whilst pregnant.

The risk of overdosing is increased if cocaine or crack is mixed with alcohol or barbiturates and injecting a mixture of cocaine and heroin, known as 'speedball' is an extremely dangerous cocktail of drugs.   Injecting any drug can cause vein damage, ulcers and gangrene.    Sharing needles can help to spread hepatitis and HIV.

Is it addictive?

Yes.   Cocaine/crack is a difficult drug to control and regular users can quickly become physically and psychologically dependent.

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Stoke-on-Trent Drug and Alcohol Action Team, First Floor, Civic Centre, Glebe St, Stoke on Trent, ST4 1WR
Tel: 01782 235708 . Fax: 01782 235003 . E-mail: drugactionteam@stoke.gov.uk