Cocaine is a highly processed form of the coca leaf. It is usually a white odourless powder. Crack cocaine is a less pure form that is mixed with other substances and processed to form crystals. Neither form is widely available in New Zealand.
Using cocaine makes you feel energetic, alert and euphoric, and can lead to reduced appetite. The initial rush wears off after 15 minutes and is usually followed by discomfort, depression and craving. Comedown effects include restlessness, anxiety, and paranoia.
Frequent use increases the chance of experiencing negative effects, which range from hallucinations and paranoia to impotence and heart problems.
Withdrawal symptoms usually start around 1–2 days after last use and include agitation, depression or anxiety, intense hunger, cravings, restless sleep, and extreme tiredness. These symptoms can last for 10 weeks.
All drug use brings a risk of harm. The best way to stay safe is to plan, know your limits and how cocaine affects you. Go out with people you trust, and know how you are getting home, or where you are staying.
Using non-sterile or unclean equipment increases risk of infection.
Regular and heavy snorting can also badly damage the tissue on the inside of the nose. Use a sterile straw if snorting, and don't share it. Rinsing the inside of your nose both before and after snorting can decrease irritation.
If injecting, ensure surfaces and equipment are sterile. Always use filters to remove contaminants and use sterile water for mixing. Clean the part of the body you are injecting with an alcohol swab. Don’t share needles, syringes, spoons, swabs and filters.
Cocaine high wears off rapidly and there are strong cravings to use again and binge. Binging increases risk of overdose and increases likelihood of other harm, avoid carrying large amounts to prevent this.
Mixing drugs is always risky. It is difficult to predict how one drug will affect another in your system. Using cocaine can mask other feelings of intoxication and you may be unaware of how impaired you are. Especially avoid using alcohol alongside cocaine as it is very harmful for your liver and increases the likelihood of using more than you intend to.
Large doses or a strong batch of cocaine may result in overdose. Overdose can be fatal.
Symptoms of overdose include: high blood pressure, chest pain and irregular heartbeat/racing heart, convulsions or seizures, difficulty breathing, passing out, extreme agitation and paranoia.
Call 111 if you or someone else is experiencing these symptoms.
You may be experiencing substance use disorder if you are:
If you decide to cut back or stop after using cocaine frequently, you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about your plan and ask them to look out for you and support you. Alternatively, call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797 for confidential, non-judgmental advice and referral to a local service provider.
Cocaine is not widely available in New Zealand, and is very expensive due to low supply. Beware - methamphetamine is relatively cheap, widely available, and is often sold as cocaine.
Because the immediate craving to use more cocaine is strong, it is important not to repeat use because this increases the likelihood of harm. You get used to cocaine very quickly too, so you soon may need larger doses to get the same high.
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