by Zach Phillips & Noah Wood

The Caviar of Street Drugs

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America. It produces short-term euphoria, energy, and talkativeness in addition to potentially dangerous physical effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.


  • About 14% of U.S. adults have tried cocaine.
  • One in 40 adults has used it in the past year.
  • Young men aged 18-25 are the biggest cocaine users, with 8% using in the past year.
  • 700 tons of cocaine is seized by law enforcement each year.


An overdose may cause severe anxiety, panic, agitation, aggression, sleeplessness. hallucinations, paranoid delusions, impaired judgment, tremors, seizures, and delirium. Death may result from MI or arrhythmias. The concurrent use of cocaine and alcohol produces a condensation product, cocaethylene, which has stimulant properties and may contribute to toxicity.

Street Names

  • C
  • Blow
  • Caine
  • Coke
  • Cola
  • Freeze
  • Snow
  • Base
  • Rock


Cocaine use has fallen sharply since its peak in 1980's. in 2009, the number of Americans admitting past month use stood at 1.6 million, less than a third of the 5,686,000 who reported such use in 1985.


Cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the nose, when sniffed; via the alveoli in the lungs, when smoked. In the brain, it pumps up the volume by increasing the activity of two main neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and dopamine.

At low doses, its effects include feelings of excitement and alertness, combined with decreased appetite and fatigue.

Physical effects include dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, and elevated heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure. Higher doses (or use over a long period of time) can cause anxiety, paranoia, and toxic psychosis.