Drugs A to Z

This resource has undergone expert review.

Cocaine: Factsheet

Dangers of cocaine
Year: Year 9–10, Year 11–12
Targeted Drugs:

What is Cocaine?

In Australia, Cocaine is known as coke, blow, charlie, C, dust, flake, nose candy, snow, white, crack, rock, freebase.

Cocaine is produced from the leaves of Erthroxylon coca plant, and comes in three main forms:

  • A paste which is often off-white or light brown 
  • A powder which is often white or off-white 
  • A white or off-white crystal rock known as crack cocaine.

In Australia, cocaine is most commonly in a powder form which is often snorted. As with all powder drugs, it is often sold ‘cut’ (mixed) with other white powder substances which can sometimes be harmful in their own right. 

Personal Stories

How many young people have tried Cocaine?

According to the 2017 Australian secondary schools' survey, 1 in 100 students (1%) aged 12–17 used cocaine in the past month.

What are the effects of Cocaine?

When snorted or injected, cocaine quickly produces an intense ‘rush’. This feeling or ‘high’ doesn’t last very long — usually around 30–45 minutes if snorted.

The effects of cocaine can be immediate or long-term, as listed in the table below.


  • Enlarged pupils
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Increased energy and confidence
  • Feeling of euphoria (a "high")
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • A "comedown" or crash (see glossary)
  • Aggressive behaviour 
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Twitches and tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia (feeling extremely suspicious and frightened)
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't really there)
  • Delusions (strong beliefs that do not reflect reality)
  • Psychosis (see glossary)
  • Overdose.


  • Dependence (addiction)
  • Nasal and sinus problems including damage to the nasal septum
  • Depression
  • Heart damage
  • Lung problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Increased risk of strokes and seizures.

Evidence Base

This factsheet was developed following expert review by researchers at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use at the University of Sydney, the National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, and the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University.

Download attachment for more information and a list of sources.

  • Credit to the Home Office for quotes adapted from Talk to Frank

Page last reviewed: 2 February 2020.