Cocaine is a Schedule 2 controlled substance, but it’s not a narcotic. It’s a stimulant like caffeine or amphetamine.
Cocaine is illegal for personal use in the United States. There are some accepted medical uses, but experts also categorize it as a substance with a high potential for harm.
Other names for cocaine include “blow,” “charlie,” “coke,” “flake,” or “crack,” as people refer to crack cocaine.
Cocaine is an intense stimulant that produces feelings of euphoria. Stimulants speed up messages that go from the brain to the body and can make you feel more alert and awake.
In the past, substance control laws in the United States
However, narcotics differ in that they are a range of substances — also known as opioids — that dull the senses and relieve pain. They include opium, substances derived from opium, like heroin, and synthetic or semi-synthetic substances.
In the United States, cocaine is a Schedule 2 controlled substance. This is because experts define it as a drug with a high potential for misuse that could lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Cocaine often takes the form of a white powder. Meanwhile, base cocaine or crack cocaine comes in small, irregularly-shaped chunks or rocks.
The effects of cocaine are often similar to the effects of other stimulants.
The effects commonly include:
- dilated pupils
- dry mouth
- increase heart rate
- reduced appetite
It’s worth bearing in mind that cocaine can affect everyone differently, depending on many factors.
These factors include your height and weight and the:
- use of cocaine with other substances or medications you take
- amount of cocaine
- strength or purity of cocaine
Cocaine also has effects during the ”comedown” in the days after use. These might differ from person to person but can include:
Withdrawal from cocaine also has effects. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin 6–12 hours after the last use in the following order:
- First, there’s a ”crash” phase with cravings, feelings of depression and anxiety, and tiredness.
- Then, there’s the withdrawal phase, which can present with similar symptoms to the first phase but sometimes with an inability to experience pleasure, too.
- Finally, there’s the extinction phase, which can last over several months, but you should see symptoms gradually decreasing.
There are many possible risks when using cocaine.
Using cocaine tainted with fentanyl, for example, can lead to accidental poisoning or overdose. So can consuming a large amount of cocaine in a small window of time.
Overdose can cause:
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- extreme agitation, paranoia, panic, or anxiety
In severe cases, overdose can result in:
High doses of cocaine and frequent use can also cause what’s sometimes known as ”cocaine psychosis.” This involves paranoia, hallucinations, and unusual thoughts or behavior that might be out of character. Cocaine psychosis typically goes away within a couple of weeks after your last use.
Inhaling cocaine on a long-term basis can lead to respiratory conditions, while chronic snorting can lead to the erosion of the upper nasal cavity. Loss of smell, nose infections, and nosebleeds are also possible.
If you’re concerned that your cocaine use might be affecting your health, work, or your relationship with loved ones, you might consider finding support or speaking with a healthcare professional.
Likewise, if you’d like to stop or reduce your cocaine use but aren’t sure how to do so, consulting a clinician or a healthcare professional may help.
Cocaine is a controlled substance, but it’s a stimulant rather than a narcotic or opioid. It’s one that has a wide range of effects on the body and mind, some of which are more short-term effects — but others can be long-term effects.
Cocaine use can cause serious health conditions like stroke, cardiac arrest, and kidney failure.
If you’re concerned about your cocaine use, or that of a friend or relative, know that you aren’t alone. You have options for help and support.
Adam England lives in the UK, and his work has appeared in a number of national and international publications. When he’s not working, he’s probably listening to live music.