Drugs A to Z

Cocaine: Factsheet

  • Dangers of cocaine
  • Avoiding Drugs? You're in the majority.
Year: Year 9–10, Year 11–12
Targeted Drugs:

Resource Overview

Time Allocated

Partial lesson (under 45mins)


Australian Resource


Freely available

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine 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 used by snorting. 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. 

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

Personal Stories

How many young people have tried it?

According to the 2014 Australian secondary schools' survey, 1 in 71 students (1.4%) aged 12–17 used cocaine last year.

What are the effects?

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.

Effects of cocaine vary, but may include:


  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Reduced appetite
  • 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 (e.g., seeing or hearing things that aren't really there)
  • Delusions (strong beliefs that do not reflect reality)
  • Psychosis (see glossary)
  • Overdose.


  • Dependence
  • 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 NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Use and National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre, UNSW.

See detailed attachment for a list of sources for this information. 

  • Credit to the Home Office for quotes adapted from Talk to Frank
  • Credit to 2&2 for the 'Avoiding Drugs?' infographic.