Drugs and Alcohol


What is cocaine?
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that comes in the form of powder or crystals (crack). Cocaine in powder form is snorted (inhaled through the nose) so is absorbed slowly into the body. If watered down and injected, cocaine takes effect more quickly. ‘Freebase’ cocaine (also a powder) and ‘crack’ cocaine can be smoked, and so can reach the brain very quickly in high dosage.
Young people we talked to said that cocaine is widely available and more affordable than it has been in the past. Mary Ann commented that cocaine ‘used to be a rich man’s drug because it used to be so expensive’ but that ‘it’s a common drug now’. Some of the young people we talked to said that they suspect cocaine that’s available in the UK isn’t pure. They wondered whether their supplies had been cut with another drug. 
What are the effects of cocaine?
As a stimulant, cocaine temporarily speeds up the processes of your mind and body. The ‘highs’ associated with cocaine include feeling wide awake and confident but the people we spoke to shared a number of negative experiences. As with all drugs, its effect in each individual person can be hard to predict. The amount and the purity of the substance you are taking and your own emotions at the time you take cocaine, will have an effect on the experience.
What are the negative effects of cocaine?
Those who had used cocaine were amazed at how much their behaviour and temperament changed, even after using it for a short period of time. Peter only snorted a line of cocaine once, but said that it wasn’t for him because he didn’t want to snort drugs and become aggressive.
The highs that come with taking cocaine can be followed by the lows of a ‘come down’ the next day.
Joe and Alex B said that they didn’t feel any of the ‘highs’ that other people associate with cocaine. Joe tried it twice (mixed with ecstasy) and Alex once and after that they both lost interest in using it.
Mixing cocaine with other drugs
A combination of alcohol and cocaine can be dangerous for your health. Cocaine and alcohol are stimulants that put pressure on the heart, increasing the risk of heart attacks.
Sam has experimented with all sorts of illegal substances and he once thought it would be funny to mix ecstasy and crack cocaine. To his dismay, the ‘comedown’ from base (crack cocaine) and ecstasy made him feel like he didn’t ‘exist anymore’. He thinks that the ecstasy tablets he took were cut heavily with ketamine.

Last reviewed July 2018.
Last updated: January 2015.


Please use the form below to tell us what you think of the site. We’d love to hear about how we’ve helped you, how we could improve or if you have found something that’s broken on the site. We are a small team but will try to reply as quickly as possible.

Please note that we are unable to accept article submissions or offer medical advice. If you are affected by any of the issues covered on this website and need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact The Samaritans or your Doctor.

Make a Donation to healthtalk.org

Find out more about how you can help us.

Send to a friend

Simply fill out this form and we'll send them an email