cocaine plant

What is Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful, psychotic stimulant that increases the levels of Dopamine produced by the body, which causes a euphoric high. Dopamine is the chemical in the body that controls pleasure and reward pathways. Both Cocaine and Crack Cocaine addiction bring with them an abundance of negative consequences that can affect every aspect of the user’s life.

Cocaine is a strong, highly addictive stimulant made from Coca leaves. It was originally used in South America as a painkiller. The purified chemical Cocaine Hydrochloride has since been isolated from the plant and is used to make what we know today as Cocaine.

The most common form of Cocaine is Cocaine Hydrochloride, a white powder often mixed or cut with other substances. Crack Cocaine takes the appearance of white or pinkish crystals which is extracted from the powder then mixed with baking soda and heated. The powdered form is commonly snorted, but it can also be rubbed on the gums, swallowed, or melted and injected with a needle directly into the vein.

The effects of Cocaine can be felt almost immediately, but only lasts for 5 minutes to an hour. The short-term effects of cocaine can include euphoria, energy, talkativeness, hypersensitivity to sound, light and touch and a decreased appetite. Large amounts of Cocaine can also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behaviour. Some other physiological effects include:

  • Increased body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure
  • Heart rhythm disturbance and heart attacks
  • Headaches, seizures, and stroke
  • Hardening of the arteries
  • Deviated septum
  • Reproductive issues

Users often combine Cocaine with alcohol which can lessen the negative short-term effects of Cocaine, such as anxiety and twitching. This combination is especially dangerous as it can create coca ethylene, which has a toxic effect on the liver and heart.

Cocaine can negatively affect mental health, even with only mild use. These may be either short-term or long-term effects and can include the following even when not under the influence:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Panic attacks
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Irritability
  • Violent or aggressive behaviours

Seeking the next high can become all-consuming and users may disregard family or work commitments and resort to stealing to pay for their addiction. Some people can become unreliable and dishonest. They often isolate themselves from their loved ones.

Cocaine addiction is an expensive habit and just one gram can cost anywhere from $300-$400 in Australia. To put this in perspective, a person on the lower end of the using scale may buy two grams per week, this equates to $41,600 per year spent on just the drug alone.

Other expenses that may come because of Cocaine addiction are legal fees, drug-related fines, increased health insurance premiums and increased car insurance premiums if you have an accident while high.

Abusing Cocaine and other drugs can also make a person significantly less productive. They may start to take absentee days from work more often and when they do attend, their quality of work is sub par. Poor work performance can mean missing out on promotions or bonuses, a cut back of shifts or loss of employment completely (

Those who use Cocaine report feelings of euphoria, which will often lead to repeated use. The brain will adapt, resulting in the reward pathway becoming less sensitive to natural reinforcers such as relationships, food, and other natural rewards. At the same time, circuits involved in stress become increasingly sensitive, causing increased displeasure and negative moods for users when not on the drug (

Cocaine users can become increasingly isolated and will avoid social situations. Personal hygiene often becomes less important and changes in behaviour such as mood swings, stealing, lying and unreliability, affect social relationships negatively.

young couple

When cocaine addiction enters the mix, many of the elements that make for successful relationships become more difficult to maintain. Once a substance user progresses from occasional use to addiction, they are likely to have a single focus: obtaining and using the substance. Since relationships often cannot compete with the euphoric experience of substance use, the user will typically put less time and energy into maintaining the relationship, allowing various damaging elements to begin to surface (

  • Secrecy
  • Trust issues
  • Anger and abuse
  • Enabling
  • Co-dependency

Co-dependency can develop as the loved one may not believe the addict can function independently and so feels they need to control the addict or, they are willing to compromise their own needs, wants and beliefs in order to keep their loved one calm and content (

Knowing the Warning Signs

By recognising the signs of Cocaine addiction and abuse, you can get your loved one the help they need before addiction takes hold

Dilated pupils

Long periods of wakefulness

Loss of appetite




Runny nose

White powder around nostrils and on surfaces in the home

Legal issues

Missing or being late to work

Financial problems

Rolled up money (used to snort Cocaine)

Mood swings

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