Can you get high on cocaine?

Yes. Cocaine makes you high, whether you ingest it by snorting, smoking, or injection. Howver, local application as an anesthetic may not include euphoric effect. More here.

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Yes, you can get high on cocaine.

In fact, you get high really fast when taking cocaine by snorting, smnoking, or injection. While cocaine has limited clinical uses as a local anesthetic in some part of the world, most people wonder, “Is cocaine addictive or not?” To be clear, cocaine is one of the most addictive and widespread illicit drugs of abuse in the U.S. How does it feel to get high on cocaine and what are the risks of cocaine abuse? We review here. And then we invite your questions about when to treat cocaine addiction at the end.

Cocaine chemistry and use

Cocaine is an alkaloid ester extracted from the leaves of coca. As a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, cocaine interferes with the reabsorption process dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with control over pleasure and movement. Similarly, cocaine interferes with the uptake of norepinephrine and serotonin (5-HT), leading to accumulation of these neurotransmitters at postsynaptic receptors. As a local anesthetic, cocaine reversibly blocks the initiation and conduction of the nerve impulse. Cocaine additionally produces vasoconstriction and dilated pupils.

Medicinally used cocaine is administered as local anesthesia. The ability to trigger vasoconstriction is clinically used particularly in the areas around the eyes and ears, as well as the nose and throat. The name clinically used cocaine is “COCAINE HYDROCHLORIDE: Topical Solution”.

Euphoric effect of cocaine

The effects of cocaine to the central nervous system are very similar to those induced by amphetamines. Cocaine disables the reuptake of dopamine by blocking the dopamine transporter … which leads to increased extracellular dopamine, resulting in stimulation of postsynaptic dopamine receptors. Chronic stimulation of the receptors causes the feeling of euphoria, which starts rather suddenly with arush of emotions and thoughts. But, the same way dopamine levels are affected when cocaine is present, the brain reacts inversely after a cocaine high. When levels of dopamine return to normal, their available drastically drops down. This is what users report to as a “dysphoric” crash.

Cocaine’s central nervous system effects

Cocaine affects the central nervous system in a way that many body functions are inhibited. With repeated use of cocaine, long term changes to brain function can leave permanent damage. Furthermore, the cerebral grey matter in the brain can face atrophy after long term use of cocaine leading to permanent damage of brain cells. Cocaine use also affects the metabolism of glucose in the frontal and temporal lobes, which are significantly decreased.

How does cocaine work to trigger a high?

Cocaine interferes with the way the brain functions, by changing dopamine levels. One of the reasons for this is the fact that cocaine travel quickly through the blood, binding over 90% with plasma and is extensively metabolized to a variety of compounds.

Cocaine’s bioavailability depends on the route of administration and is between 57% following snorting and ~70% following smoking. Some typical cocaine metabolite compounds include: benzoylecgonine, ecgonine, and ecgonine methyl ester. Benzoylecgonine is the major urinary metabolite. Norcocaine is a very minor metabolite, but important for the users because it is neurotoxic. Cocaine has a very short half-life compared to the half-life of cocaine’s metabolites The cocaine half-life is approximately 0.8 ± 0.2 hours, while the half-life of benzoylecgonine is up to 6 hours.

Mixing cocaine with other substances

Cocaine is often mixed intentionally in combination with other drugs. When you inject cocaine with heroin, it’ called “speedball”. Users often combine cocaine with alcohol in order to reduce the irritability they experience. However, this can produce cocaethylene, which can be cardiotoxic. Cocaethylene is an active metabolite which blocks dopamine reuptake. Cocaine is also smoked with phencyclidine, which is known as “tick”, or in blunts with marijuana, called “turbo”.

Mixing cocaine with other substances can also be unintentional. Important factors in cocaine administration remain the purity of the drug. When bought on the street, depending on the demographic region, purity of cocaine hydrochloride can range from 20-95%. The hydrochloride powder is often diluted with a variety of substances such as sugars (lactose, sucrose, inositol, mannitol), other stimulants (caffeine, ephedrine, phenylpropanolamine), or local anesthetics (lidocaine, procaine, benzocaine).

Getting high on cocaine

Cocaine is an illicit drug of abuse mainly because of its capability to create extremely potent euphoric effects. A cocaine high can last a very short amount of time, but people often start administering smaller doses of cocaine in order to continue experiencing the desired euphoric effects and avoid the unwanted crush.

There is a lot of publicity about the getting high on cocaine. Cocaine highs have been described in movies, songs, books etc. Users often describe cocaine high as the best and the worst feeling ever. Burning sensations, soothing relaxation and ecstatic feelings can be accompanied by grueling headaches, fatigue and depression. Be aware that binge use of cocaine can easily lead to addiction.  So, how can you help a cocaine addict?

Risks of cocaine abuse

The biggest risk of cocaine abuse is addiction. The psychological urge to use cocaine, despite the negative consequences at home, work or school can overtake your present and your future life. Cocaine addiction is ofetn accompanied by:

  • bad health condition
  • criminal deeds
  • disassociation
  • extreme paranoia
  • risky behaviors
  • suppressed immune system
  • unstable personality
  • violent acts

Am I addicted to cocaine?

Anyone who is using cocaine for more than four days a time over a a year is at risk of becoming addicted to cocaine. You need to ask yourself several questions. And in case you end up with positive answer you may need to seek for help for cocaine addiction.

  • Do I take cocaine every day?
  • Can I quit cocaine with no problem?
  • Can I function normally without cocaine?
  • Have a changed since I have started taking cocaine?
  • Do I think of cocaine all the time?

Help for cocaine abuse

Cocaine abuse can be treated when it comes in the form of cocaine dependence and cocaine addictiont treatment. Cocaine can alter your personality and health, no matter if you have just started taking it or have been using it for a while. The sooner cocaine addiction is addressed, the higher your chances for successful recovery.

Cocaine high questions

Do you still have questions about cocaine or its use? Please let us know in the comments section below. We will try to respond to you with a personal and prompt answer.

Reference sources: Pub Chem Summary: Cocaine
NIDA Drug facts: Cocaine
Erowid Drug Experiences: Cocaine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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