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Cocaine: How does it affect me?

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Cocaine is highly addictive, powerful stimulant commonly used as a party drug. It can come in different forms: Usually a white powder, or in a “rock” form known as crack.  

Cocaine can be snorted, injected or smoked, a process known as “freebasing”. Cocaine is fast-acting, can be extremely dangerous and have serious consequences for your health.  

Substances like cocaine are more dangerous when combined with other drugs such as depressants (for example, alcohol) because it can be very difficult to feel the effects of one or the other, which increases the risk of overdose.  

There is an increase in contaminated cocaine reported in Canada. There is a high risk of overdose when someone uses cocaine contaminated with other substances such as opioids (eg fentanyl).

Cocaine in a sealed packet

Did you know?

Cocaine is produced illegally from coca plant leaves, using a process that involves many toxic solvents such as acetone, kerosene and acids. Most of the world’s cocaine is produced in South America and smuggled into other countries, including Canada. 

How does cocaine affect me?

  • Cocaine is a stimulant that changes how your brain works. It can make you feel more alert, energetic, or high. Your heart rate and body temperature will increase.  

  • Cocaine works on the brain by increasing the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter known as the “feel good” hormone.  

  • Cocaine is very fast acting. Its effects can be felt within seconds to minutes, depending on how you consume it. 

Overdosing on cocaine

If you use too much cocaine you are at risk of severe intoxication or overdose.  

Physical effects (symptoms) of a cocaine overdose include:  

  • Extreme agitation or excitement 

  • Fast heartbeat 

  • Sweating 

  • Chest pain 

  • Feeling very warm 

  • Severe headaches 

  • Seizures 

  • In and out of consciousness 

  • Heart attack  

  • Stroke  

  • Seizures 

  • Death  


Mental health effects of cocaine overdose include: 

  • Psychosis – hallucinations and delusions and loss of sense of self and reality  

Cocaine overdoses can be deadly. Cocaine does not have an antidote (like opioids do with Naloxone). This means it’s very difficult to treat a cocaine overdose. Someone who has overdosed on cocaine person needs medical attention. 

Cocaine can be contaminated with opioids, which means Naloxone could be used.

Call your local emergency number before administering Naloxone.  


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