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How does cocaine work?

How does cocaine work?

Cocaine is a stimulant that’s occasionally used as a topical anesthetic, but is also available as an illicit street drug used to achieve a euphoric high.  In fact, cocaine works so well that you can get addicted to cocaine quickly. Here we’ll review how cocaine affects the body and brain, as well as its dangers and side effects. And we invite your questions about cocaine and how cocaine works at the end.

How does cocaine work in the body?

When cocaine is inhaled, snorted, or injected, it enters the bloodstream and is delivered to the brain. Cocaine works by interfering with the normal processes of the brain, flooding the pleasure-center of the brain with the chemical dopamine, creating a feeling of euphoria.  Cocaine stays in urine and is detectable via drug screens 2-4 days after use.

Cocaine also effects other systems of the body. As a stimulant, cocaine creates a feeling of alertness and energy, increases body temperature, and raises heart rate. However, the cardiovascular effects of cocaine can put cocaine users at risk of heart attacks and stroke.

How does cocaine affect the brain and nervous system?

Cocaine directly affects the central nervous system. As mentioned earlier, cocaine interferes with normal brain processes, causing dopamine levels to spike in the brain. As a result, cocaine can cause a variety of central nervous system effects, including:

  • anxiety or panic attacks
  • changes in behavior
  • euphoric feelings
  • paranoia
  • restlessness

How fast does cocaine work?

Depending on how cocaine is taken, it can begin to work within minutes. Smoking the crack form of cocaine will result in a high within seconds, but snorting cocaine will take several minutes for cocaine to work. Cocaine is not often administered orally, but takes about 30 minutes to take effect when ingested (as in the case of coca leaves).

How long does cocaine work?

The duration of cocaine’s effects depend on the method of administration. When cocaine is snorted the effects last longer, 15-30 minutes. When smoked, the effects of cocaine may only last 5-10 minutes. In other words, cocaine is not effective for a lasting high.

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What makes cocaine work better

Cocaine works most quickly and efficiently when it’s snorted or smoked. However, because so much cocaine is flooding the brain all at once, these methods of administration come with their own particular dangers. Using cocaine can also damage the nasal tissues and the lungs.

Does cocaine work for everyone?

No, cocaine won’t work for everyone. Taking cocaine is always risky when it’s not sued for medical purposes, particularly because street cocaine is often mixed with other drugs or potentially toxic substances. Furthermore, using cocaine opens you up not only to potential health problems, but also to the risks of addiction and overdose.

How cocaine works questions

Still have questions about cocaine and how cocaine works? Please leave your questions and comments about cocaine below. We will be happy to try to answer your questions personal and promptly.

Reference Sources: MedlinePlus: Cocaine
NIDA InfoFacts: Cocaine
DEA: Drugs and Chemicals of Concerns: Cocaine

Photo credit: NIDA National Institute on Drug Abuse

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13 Responses to “How does cocaine work?
samuel
4:55 am November 9th, 2012

hi, im wondering if the neurons of the nasal epithelium and the olfactory bulb serve as channel to stimulate the central nervous system as/or like smell does stimulates the brain to bring remembrances.

11:19 am November 15th, 2012

Hi Samuel. I’m a little confused by your question. Are you asking if the nasal epithelium and the olfactory bulb works to stimulate memory?

ty
9:47 am July 31st, 2013

if cocaiane is lick orally is it in my system? if so how long before its out

8:26 am August 13th, 2013

Hi Ty. Yes, if you eat or lick cocaine it can enter your body. Cocaine stays in the system for about 2-4 days after ingestion.

edward
2:41 am August 26th, 2014

i did cocaine 9days ago do i have a chance im clean already

12:45 pm September 1st, 2014

Hello Edward. There is no formula by which I can say for sure. Every individual is different and whether coke is out of your system or not depends on many factors. The complete elimination of cocaine depends on how often you used, what amount, your methabolism, age, body mass, level of hydratation, was dependence and/or addiction developed, etc.

curious
9:06 pm September 14th, 2014

I would like information of the long term effects of cocain/crack. Ive been clean for over eight years and can still see, what I feel are from my pass usage. Are there videos to help guide me of what I should expect year after year as I stay Clean and what to expect as permanent damage.

jay jay
5:21 am December 3rd, 2014

I want to try cocaine only once will i have a risk on dying if i lick it? Only once

sarah
5:38 am December 18th, 2014

I think i found my roommates crack.. i wanted to know what it was and for some reason decided to lick it to see if i could figure out what the hell it was. i barely tasted it for a second. my tongue is numb in that spot. Am i ‘high’ or is the cocaine in my system? how do i confront her that i found this?

2:58 pm December 23rd, 2014

Hello Sarah. Don’t worry, there is no chance cocaine has entered your system and there is no way you are high from it. You can talk to your roommate quietly and calmly. If you don’t want it in your room tell her that. And, you cannot just put weird stuff you find in your mouth-What if it was a poisonous substance?

car
10:17 am January 18th, 2015

If the brain is flooded with dopamine is that simaler to dopamine from say anti depressants?
also on personal SWIN said it raised there sex drive and also make getting drunk impossible which causes you to binge big time and ironical not die directly cause of cocaine but the vast amount of alcohol taken

Catherine
3:50 pm April 3rd, 2015

Hi, My partner uses cocaine fairly regularly… every weekend at the moment and occassionally during the week. He has stopped for periods of 3 months when in rehab and continued the same behaviour gradually introducing the drug back into his weekly/weekend intake. Please could you confirm whether is is possible as a non-user who has had intercourse with my partner whether I would test positive in a urine test because of his semen that may still be present in me. I look forward to your answer. Thank you

5:17 pm April 15th, 2015

Hi Catherine. It’s highly unlikely that any cocaine will be detected in your urinalysis because you had intercourse with someone who may have used cocaine. I hope this answers your question.

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