Cocaine is a Class A substance, often referred to as ‘Charlie’, ‘Coke’ and ‘Snow’

Cocaine is a stimulant-based drug, meaning that when someone takes it, they can feel more awake, energised and alert. However, many who use cocaine, experience a comedown once the effects wear off, including tiredness, anxiety and feeling down. Below are some simple techniques you can do, to keep yourself as safe as possible, if you intend on using cocaine.

  1. Research. Especially if you have never used cocaine before, it is worth doing a bit of research beforehand. This allows you to prepare before you use, but also know what to expect when under the influence, as well as after. It can also help you make an informed decision about whether you use or not.
  2. Do not use alone. If you intend on using cocaine, ensure that you are with a ‘sober’ friend. You can overdose from cocaine, so it is worth knowing what the signs are, so you can help out your mates, if needed.
  3. Crack cocaine. Crack cocaine and cocaine are the same drug. The powder form of cocaine, which is also known as cocaine hydrochloride, tends to be snorted, where as crack cocaine tends to be smoked. The way you use drugs, whether it be smoking or snorting, will have a significant impact on the effects and the intensity, a user will experience. Smoking a drug is the quickest way to get the substance to your brain, but the effects can be much shorter lasting, compared to snorting,
  4. Do not share. Most people tend to use cocaine (hydrochloride) via snorting and therefore using paraphernalia such as bank notes or straws. Avoid sharing such equipment and only use your own. If someone was to use crack cocaine, they may well use a pipe to smoke. Sharing any form of paraphernalia can increase the risk of transmitting various infections and viruses such as hepatitis.
  5. Chop it up. If you are thinking about using cocaine, ensure you crush or grind the powder up as fine as possible before snorting. This will help to reduce the risk of soft tissue damage within the nose, as well as help to judge your dose more accurately.
  6. Start low and go slow. You can never tell how ‘pure’ your cocaine is, by just looking at it. Whether you are considering taking cocaine for the first time, or you have used it many times before, always take a small test dose first, and wait a few hours before taking any more. The strength and toxicity of cocaine varies from batch to batch. Ideally, get your sample tested by a drug checking service, if that is available. You can buy drug checking tests online, but be aware, they are not always accurate.
  7. What’s in my cocaine? Cocaine, like many other drugs, can contain adulterants and diluents. Cocaine often contains other substances such as benzocaine, levamisole, lactose and caffeine. Some of these have anaesthetic properties, meaning it can sometimes result in the feeling of numbness and therefore reduce your perception of pain.
  8. Mixing with alcohol. It is advised not to mix cocaine with any drugs. It could lead to unexpected and unpredictable effects. Mixing cocaine with alcohol can result in your liver producing a third drug called cocaethylene, which is more toxic to your body, than either cocaine or alcohol separately.
  9. Think about consent and safe sex. When under the influence, you may be more likely to do things you wouldn’t normally do. It can also impair your judgement. Ensure that if you intend to have sex, that all individuals involved consent to this before and during. It is also always best to prepare for certain situations too, such as carrying contraception, like condoms or dams, if you do end up having sex. You can get free condoms from any of our services and free home STI testing kits from Frisky Wales.
  10. Snorting. Firstly, avoid sharing any notes, straws, keys or any other snorting paraphernalia. Only use your own. Place the tool as high up your nostril as possible and alternate nostrils if you plan on taking several ‘hits’. Also, aim to wash your nostrils out after each session and apply a thin layer of vitamin E oil after rinsing.
  11. Comedowns. What goes up, must come down. The after affects, or the ‘comedown’/ ‘crash’ as many call it, can differ from person to person. These tend to be the opposite effects to what someone may experience when under the influence. People can become tried, lethargic or even experience poor mental health. But it will pass. Try and get plenty of rest. It’s also worth having a mate around that can help you prep a healthy meal (banana’s, nuts and veg are great to help during a comedown). Having a mate around can also encourage you have some fun and help the time pass quicker. If you are really concerned about the effects you are experiencing, reach out to a trusted adult or seek medical assistance.
  12. Stay hydrated. Using stimulants like cocaine leads to the body working harder than usual, as well as you experiencing a boost in energy, which could lead you to sweating more than normal. It’s important to take on fluids so not to become dehydrated. Usually, sip half a pint of water over an hours’ period. If you are sweating more than normal, maybe sip up to a pint per hour.
  13. Take a break. Once your session is finished, it is advised to give your body a break for at least a couple of weeks, to help it fully recover. Be aware though, if you have an extended break, your tolerance can drop, meaning the next time you use, you may not need to take as much as previously did, to experience similar effects. Therefore, it’s important to take a small test dose and wait a few hours, at the start of your next session.
  14. Look after your mates. Just as it says on the tin. Look after your mates, just as you’d want them to look after you. If you notice a mate struggling or experiencing negative effects, take them to a quiet space and reassure them. If you notice a mate who has been taking drugs, asleep, put them in the recovery position and regularly check on them, to avoid them choking on their own vomit. If you are concerned, seek medical assistance immediately.
  15. Reach out. If you are concerned about your own, or a loved one’s drug use, you can get free, confidential support from any of our services. Our trained staff provide 1-2-1 support, without judgement, for anyone affected by substance use, and facilitate you in making the changes you wish to make. Why not chat immediately to a trained support worker via our Live Webchat Service.

A stimulant overdose is different to that of an opioid one. Why not watch YouthRise’s short video highlighting how to avoid a stimulant overdose, here.

You can also check out some of our top harm reduction tips for other specific drugs by clicking on each of the substances below:

General harm reduction tips

Alcohol

Benzodiazepines

Cannabis 

Ketamine

Nitrous Oxide

Ecstasy (Coming Soon)

Heroin (Coming Soon)