Cocaine – Live Well Centre

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Cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) is a very addictive drug which can make you feel happy, excited, and confident for a short amount of time. It can also be known as sniff, whiff, or gear, among other names. It’s normally snorted or rubbed into the gums. Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, and acts as a local anaesthetic (makes you numb).

Crack cocaine is purified cocaine which is usually smoked.

There are always risks to using drugs. Using alcohol and cocaine together can be especially dangerous, as they mix together to produce a toxic chemical called cocaethylene. This affects the cardiovascular system (heart and blood), and increases your risk of overdosing.

Cocaine, crack cocaine, and cocaethylene are all very addictive, and can lead to cravings if you’re using them regularly or semi-regularly.

In Middlesbrough, cocaine features heavily in some social circles, and is having a devastating effect on communities. It may be seen as a ‘high-end drug’ but it still needs significant organised crime to get it into the area. Drug gangs use young people to move drugs around. Once in the area, cocaine causes significant harm to those taking it.


Research has shown that financial strain is one of the biggest stresses on your mental health. Regular drug use, or being dependent on drugs, can lead to debt and an increase in financial strain. In turn, this causes further strain on your relationships and employment.

Social isolation

Many people start off using drugs in a social setting, but end up feeling isolated as friends or loved ones begin to leave or move on. If this happens, you may start using alone.

Effects on mental health

The effect of extreme highs followed by extreme lows (the ‘comedown’), combined with other feelings like money worries and social isolation, can have a huge effect on your mental health.


Many people who use drugs are not involved in any other engage criminal behaviour. But buying drugs, and being in possession of drugs, is still a criminal activity, and if you’re caught it can have a massive impact on your life and career.

Long-term physical effects

The longer term physical effects of using cocaine can include:

  • dependency
  • damage to the heart
  • damage to the nose structure
  • poor sleeping patterns
  • impotence
  • malnutrition caused by a suppressed appetite

As well as the physical effects, cocaine also has huge effects on other areas of your life, like your mental health.


Cocaethylene is produced when you take alcohol and cocaine at the same time, and they combine in your liver. Cocaethylene is a very dangerous substance and has severe consequences, including liver damage, heart erythema, and the risk of sudden death. It has such a strong effect on the body that it can be treated as a recreational drug in its own right.

Some people who use cocaine and alcohol together may struggle to have one without the other. You might decide to just go out for a drink, but once you’re drinking, your body and mind start craving cocaine and cocaethylene. If you’re trying to reduce or stop using cocaine, you may also need to reduce or stop drinking alcohol for a while.

Keeping safe

With illegal drugs, the best way of keeping safe is to stop using them altogether. But we know that right now this could feel like an unachievable goal.

Any change is a good change, so why not start small and cut down gradually? For example, if you’re using every weekend, start by having one drug-free weekend every month. Then try limiting yourself to one weekend every month where you use, and then eventually stopping completely.

If you’re out, look out for your friends, and talk to them about what you’ll do if something goes wrong. If someone wants to go home, be a good mate and support them, don’t encourage them to stay out, and help them get home.

Watch out for overdoses. If someone is sweaty and hot to the touch, panicking, and complaining of chest pains, call 999. Make sure there’s nothing around which can hurt them, stay with them until help arrives, and tell the paramedics what they’ve taken. You will not get in trouble – the most important thing is that the paramedics know what’s wrong.

Supporting someone else

If you’re worried about a loved one or friend, check out the information in the supporting someone else section.

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