Cocaine: what is it?
Cocaine belongs to a group of drugs known as ‘stimulants’. Stimulants speed up the messages going between the brain and the body.
Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), which is native to South America. The coca leaf extract is then processed to create cocaine hydrochloride, freebase and crack.
The leaves of the coca bush have long been chewed and brewed into tea by indigenous people in South America for its stimulant and appetite suppressant properties.
Some of the common names for cocaine include C, coke, nose candy, snow, white lady, toot, Charlie, blow, white dust and stardust.
Freebase is also known as base, and crack is sometimes referred to as rock or wash.
What does cocaine look like?
The most common from of cocaine is cocaine hydrochloride. This is a white, crystalline powder with a bitter, numbing taste.
Cocaine hydrochloride can be further processed to produce cocaine base, known as ‘freebase’ and ‘crack’. Freebase is a white powder, while crack generally comes in the form of crystals that range in colour from white or creamy colour to transparent with a pink or yellow hue.
Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lactose and glucose, to dilute it before being sold.
How is it used?
Cocaine hydrochloride is most commonly ‘snorted’. It can also be injected. Some people rub it into the gums, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Others add it to a drink or food. Freebase and crack cocaine are usually smoked.
For more information, please click on the Australian Drug Foundation's DrugInfo Clearinghouse web site link below.
Last Reviewed: 29/01/2013
Australian Drug Foundation
Australian Drug Foundation. Cocaine facts. Last updated 29 Jan 2013. http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/drug-facts/cocaine (accessed May 2013)
Cocaine: what are the effects?
Read about the various effects of taking cocaine from the immediate effects of the rush to the crash that can follow afterwards and the long-term effects of cocaine use.
Benzodiazepines: what are they?
Benzodiazepines ('benzos') are also known as minor tranquillisers.
Cocaine: tolerance and dependence
After prolonged use, cocaine is highly addictive and with regular use, larger amounts of cocaine are needed to get the same effect.
Every snort of coke could lead to stroke
People who take cocaine are 6 times more likely to have a stroke in the 24 hours after snorting cocaine.
Cocaine: use with other drugs
Snorting and injecting cocaine can result in long-term effects on your health.