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Drug Information

Cocaine and Crack


What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a white powder that is a powerful, short acting stimulant derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Crack is a smokeable form of cocaine that has been chemically changed to form rocks or crystals.

How is it used?

Cocaine is most commonly snorted but can also be injected. Crack is smoked, often using a pipe, glass tube or empty drinks can. Crack can also be injected, although this is not advisable. To inject cocaine it needs to be mixed with water, whereas injecting crack requires an acid to be added.

Injecting increases the risk of overdose and hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV (through sharing injecting equipment).

What are the effects?

Effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. This can result in feelings of increased confidence and physical strength. Feelings of exhilaration, decreased hunger and a sense of well-being can also occur. Sometimes these effects are replaced by feelings of anxiety and panic.

When cocaine is snorted the effects occur gradually and peak after 15-30 minutes. When injected the effects are more immediate and are felt more intensely; they also end sooner. When crack is smoked the effects occur immediately but end very quickly.

A strong psychological dependence on cocaine can occur, with users wanting to keep achieving the feelings of exhilaration and physical and mental well-being.

The after effects of taking cocaine can include feelings of fatigue, tiredness and depression. With long-term frequent use the feelings of exhilaration can be replaced by feelings of restlessness and anxiety, along with weight loss and nausea.

Repeated snorting of cocaine can damage the nasal membranes and result in frequent nosebleeds or in some cases damage to the structure separating the nostrils. Repeated smoking of crack can lead to respiratory problems and in some cases partial loss of voice.

Legal Status

Cocaine and crack are Class A drugs.

  • The maximum penalty for possessing a Class A drug is seven years in prison and/or unlimited fine.
  • The maximum penalty for supplying a Class A drug is life imprisonment and/or unlimited fine.


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