Cocaine Fact Sheet


  Cocaine Fact Sheet

Coast to Forest Resources

Thank you for exploring our fact sheet series. To learn more about substance use and mental health, check out our other fact sheets. To find local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides. For a variety of national and state-focused resources, please visit our Helplines & Practical Tools page.

What is cocaine?

  • Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is derived from the leaves of a coca plant that is native to South America1
  • In 2020 alone, 5.2 million people 12+ in the U.S. reported cocaine use within the last year1

Intended use

  • Cocaine may be used as a topical local anesthetic for the upper respiratory tract or to reduce bleeding in mucous membranes3

Common names

  • Blow, Coca, Coke, Crack, Flake, Snow, and Soda Cot3


  • Snorting grinded powder up the nose (lasts 15-30 minutes)1
  • Rubbing grinded powder on the gums (lasts 10-30 minutes)1
  • Dissolving powder and injecting into the bloodstream (lasts 20-60 minutes)1,5
  • Smoking cocaine that has gone through a process that crystallizes it into a solid rock called crack (lasts 5-10 minutes)1
  • Cocaine is often taken in copious amounts or binges to maintain the level of high1

How cocaine works

  • Cocaine raises the level of dopamine in the brain and then prevents the recycling of dopamine, resulting in a buildup between nerve cells1
  • This build-up of dopamine interrupts signaling between nerve cells and creates a sensation of euphoria2

Short term health effects

  • Dilated pupils, extreme elation/energy, feeling alert, loss of appetite, insomnia, irritability, paranoia, and sensory hypersensitivity1,3

Long term health effects

  • Depends on amount consumed and method of use1
  • If applied to gums: Bowel decay from reduced blood flow1
  • If applied through needle injection: increased risk of developing diseases through needle sharing such as HIV and Hepatitis C1
  • If applied through nose: Problems with swallowing, nasal lining decay, nosebleeds, loss of smell and constant runny noses1
  • If applied through smoking: respiratory distress, cough, increased chance of lung infection and asthma1
  • Serious adverse effects include irregular heartbeat, ischemic heart conditions, sudden cardiac arrest, convulsions, stroke, and death3


  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowed thinking
  • Insomnia1

Given the symptoms of withdrawal, a person may need medical supervision to ensure their safety during the process.6


  • An overdose can be intentional or unintentional and is when a large enough amount of cocaine is consumed to have serious adverse health effects, life threatening symptoms or even death1
    • Symptoms include difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, high body temperature, hallucinations, and extreme agitation or anxiety1
  • Overdose is more likely when Cocaine is used in combination with other drugs such as Heroin, alcohol and many more1
  • Cocaine is often cut with other substances to maximize its volume. These added substances can increase the likelihood of an overdose1.
    • These substances often include laxatives, caffeine, laundry detergent, cornstarch, baking soda, creatine or fentanyl1

Addiction treatment

  • Therapeutic interventions: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Contingency Management, Community-based Recovery Groups, Therapeutic Communities1
  • Currently there are no medications specifically designed for the treatment of cocaine addiction, but such medications are in development1


  1. Cocaine Research Report
  2. Cocaine
  3. Cocaine: Drug Fact Sheet
  4. Compound Summary: Cocaine
  5. Substance Use – Cocaine
  6. Withdrawal


This fact sheet was developed by the Oregon State University Coast to Forest team, a collaboration of the College of Health, OSU Center for Health Innovation and OSU Extension Service Family & Community Health program. We would like to thank the H 310 Health Field Experience students for their contributions.

For more information and to explore local resources, check out the Coast to Forest County-Specific Resource Guides.