Other names for cocaine

Coke, snow, blow, stardust, white, freebase, line, bindle.

What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant. It is one of the drugs that pep you up.

  • It is a white, crystalline powder.
  • It’s usually scraped into a line on a flat surface and snorted.
  • Often it’s adulterated with other chemicals.
  • Powder cocaine can also be cooked up into freebase coke or crack cocaine.
  • Crack is smoked in a pipe or cigarette. Many heroin users also take crack.

Effects of cocaine

Cocaine makes you active, clear-headed, alert and cheerful.

  • You become more talkative and more self-confident. This could also result in being too interested in your own story and having a lack of interest in your surroundings.
  • Your heart beats faster, your blood vessels contract and your blood pressure rises.
  • After the effects wear off, you feel restless and empty.
  • The next day you often feel down.
  • If you snort cocaine, you feel the effects within a couple of minutes and they last about half an hour.

Short term risks of cocaine

  • Serious cardiovascular problems: cocaine increases your heart rate and constricts your blood vessels. Your heart needs extra oxygen, but your arteries can’t supply the necesarry oxygen. Your heart has to pump harder to get that oxygen. Since blood flows more slowly through constricted arteries, it is also easier for blood cells to stick together and form clots. These can block your arteries, depriving your heart of oxygen.
  • The day after: fatigue and exhaustion.
  • The mucous membranes in your nose get inflamed due to the constricted blood vessels.
  • Sinus problems: if cocaine gets into your sinuses, it can cause congestion and headaches.
  • Hepatitis C: you can contract liver disease if you share snorting tubes.
  • Problems getting an erection or ejaculating.
  • Restlessness, fear, suspicion or even delusions.
  • The effects of crack last no more than 5 minutes. The risks are greater than those of powder cocaine. It’s easy to lose control.

Long term risks of cocaine

The more cocaine you are taking and the more often you take it, the greater your chances of health problems are. Here are the most common problems from long-term use:

  • Cardiovascular conditions: these include atherosclerosis, heart rhythm disturbances, heart attack, stroke and brain haemorrhaging. The risk increases at older ages, when blood vessels may already be narrowed from other causes.
  • Loss of sense of smell.
  • Perforated nasal septum brought on by heavy cocaine exposure.
  • Changes in how you interact with other people: cocaine users may become cold, arrogant and selfish. They may be irritable, easily annoyed and agitated, getting into fights and conflicts. Heavy users may lose touch with reality and feel suspicious and threatened; that can lead to aggressive and paranoid behaviour.
  • Formication: a feeling of bugs crawling under your skin, sometimes causing serious itching. You may scratch until your skin bleeds.
  • Cocaine psychosis: frequent cocaine use can trigger delusions and hallucinations.
  • Cocaine is addictive. Due to the fleeting effects, you quickly want more and more.
  • If you’re hooked on cocaine and you cut back, you may feel depressed and exhausted for months on end.
  • If you take cocaine often, you can lose a lot of weight. You can also become fearful and suspicious of others.

Cocaïne test

The following test will help you discover whether you are taking too many risks. Once you’ve answered the questions, you’ll receive the test results, with information about your score. Depending on your score, we’ll make certain recommendations.

Cocaine in the brain and in the body

Watch our animations to see how cocaine works in the brain and what route it takes through the body.


Versie: april 2021