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Medically Reviewed

Can You Smoke Cocaine?

- 9 sections

Medically Reviewed: June 1, 2023

Medical Reviewer

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA

medically-verified

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Cocaine is a highly potent stimulant drug that is derived from the coca plant. People who use this substance often become addicted because of its habit-forming properties. When someone uses cocaine, they might experience increased energy, an inflated sense of self, and an inability to sleep.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, “Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 1.7% (or about 4.8 million people) reported using cocaine in the past 12 months.”[1]

Most individuals who abuse cocaine snort the drug. However, it is possible to inject and smoke the substance as well. If you or a loved one abuse cocaine, it’s important to be aware of the dangers of smoking it.

Methods of Cocaine Use

Traditionally, cocaine is consumed by snorting it as a powder, which is absorbed through the nasal mucosa. Another common method is injecting cocaine directly into the bloodstream. While smoking cocaine is not a common or efficient method of consumption, some people smoke the drug.

Why Do People Smoke Cocaine?

When you smoke cocaine you will experience an almost instantaneous high. The effects of cocaine become more potent when you smoke it, so some people might choose to smoke the drug instead of snorting it.

If you are buying cocaine off of the street, it typically comes in the form of a fine white powder. To smoke cocaine, you would have to change its formula and consistency, which can be difficult. This can be achieved in two different ways: freebasing cocaine or smoking crack cocaine.

When someone freebases cocaine they have to use a potentially dangerous extraction process that results in a purified and extremely potent form of cocaine. On the other hand, creating crack cocaine causes the substance to become less pure and does not include an extraction process. As a result, it is more common for people to smoke cocaine by creating crack instead of freebasing.

Effects of Smoking Cocaine

Smoking cocaine causes similar effects as injecting or snorting it. However, these effects come on more rapidly and might be more intense. Additionally, smoking cocaine can cause more physical harm to your body on top of the high it can produce.

Effects of smoking cocaine include:[2]

  • Euphoria
  • Extreme energy
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Irritability or paranoia
  • Increased alertness
  • Restlessness
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Increased body temperature
  • Tremors and muscle twitching

Smoking cocaine can also lead to an array of health problems. If you or a loved one abuses cocaine in any manner, you should seek help from a professional drug rehab center. Recovering from cocaine addiction can be hard, but with the help of an addiction treatment program, you can achieve long-term sobriety.

Dangers of Smoking Cocaine

If you smoke cocaine, you know that the effects of the substance become more intense than if you were to snort it. However, smoking this drug can also put you at risk of an array of adverse health effects.

Dangers of smoking cocaine include:

Burns

If you are making freebase cocaine, you have to use a solvent to create the smokable substance. Sometimes, traces of the solvent remain left over in the substance you are smoking, causing the substance to become volatile. As a result, lighting cocaine can result in severe burns on the skin.

Stroke

Any form of cocaine increases your risk of stroke, however, smoking it makes the potential for stroke a serious concern. Cocaine increases your blood pressure, makes blood clots more likely to form, and narrows your blood vessels.[3] These factors substantially increase the risk of stroke.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cocaine is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in the central nervous and circulatory systems. As a result, cocaine abuse increases your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Smoking cocaine may increase the risk of:[4]

  • Arrhythmias
  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack

Overdose

Lastly, because smoking cocaine increases the potency of the drug and makes it easy to rapidly deliver large amounts of the drug to the brain, an overdose may occur. Cocaine overdoses can be life-threatening and must be treated by emergency medical providers. If you believe that your loved one is overdosing on cocaine, please contact 911 immediately.

Symptoms of a cocaine overdose include:[5]

  • Increased body temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Chest pain that radiates up the shoulder and down the arm (heart attack)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bluish colored skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizures or stroke
  • Tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Confusion

Finding Help for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, it’s time to seek professional help. At Charlotte Detox Center, we can provide you with the support and treatment necessary to overcome cocaine withdrawal and begin your recovery journey.

To learn more about our cocaine detox program in North Carolina, contact Charlotte Detox Center today.

References:

  1. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States, Retrieved May 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
  2. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): Cocaine DrugFacts, Retrieved May 2023 From https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  3. National Library of Medicine: Cocaine Use and Stroke, Retrieved May 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2600058/
  4. National Institutes of Health (NIH): Acute and Chronic Effects of Cocaine on Cardiovascular Health, Retrieved May 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6387265/
  5. National Institutes of Health (NIH): Cocaine Toxicity, Retrieved May 2023 From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430976/

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