The Dangers of Smoking and Injecting Cocaine

Cocaine, a stimulant, might harm an individual and is very addictive, and overdosing on this drug might kill an individual.1,2

syringe and powder

An individual might snort powder, smoke crack (known as “freebase cocaine”, “cocaine base”, and “crack cocaine” as well), inject powder that’s been dissolved, or use cocaine via a different way.1,3 Compared to snorting cocaine, smoking or injecting it can yield a more powerful, faster, and more brief high.1

If an individual smokes it, it might trigger a high that endures for less than 10 minutes; if an individual snorts it, it might trigger a high that continues for half an hour.1

Frequently, cocaine-using individuals use the stimulant via using it multiple times, using bigger and bigger amounts, in a brief period, which is known as a “binge”.1

An individual could experience a “rush” – a powerful, quickly-occurring euphoria.3 An individual might become anxious, paranoid, restless, alert, irritable, and/or energetic.1,3,4

Cocaine is able to be utilized medically in America, but this is uncommon.1,3

Potential Impacts and Risks

Cocaine might impact an individual in various ways, possibly including:1,2,4,5,6,7

  • Causing alertness
  • Triggering shaking
  • Causing talking quickly
  • Elevating blood pressure
  • Giving energy
  • Enlarging pupils
  • Causing paranoia
  • Elevating temperature
  • Causing aggression
  • Triggering a headache
  • Causing excitement
  • Triggering hallucinating
  • Causing delusions
  • Triggering nauseousness and/or vomiting
  • Causing anger
  • Elevating heart rate
  • Triggering dizziness

An individual who uses cocaine might have seizures, suffer a heart attack, go into a coma, suffer a stroke, and/or even die.2,4

An individual who smokes cocaine might become short of breath, might develop a cough, and/or might have other respiratory issues.1,6 An individual might get an infection like pneumonia (the risk can be elevated).1

An individual who snorts cocaine might have a nose that runs often, be less able to smell things, have swallowing issues, and/or have nosebleeds.1

An individual who takes cocaine orally might have serious decay of the individual’s bowels.1

An individual who injects cocaine might develop scars, get a skin infection, have veins collapse, and/or have soft tissue become infected.1

An individual who uses cocaine, even if the individual does not use it via a needle, might get HIV.1 Cocaine is able to worsen judgment, and shared needles and/or sexual activity that is risky might result in an individual catching hepatitis C and/or HIV.1,8

Using cocaine over and over is able to bring about alterations in brain systems, and it might result in addiction.1


Indications that someone might have overdosed on cocaine include:1,2

  • Heart beating quickly
  • Hallucinating
  • Having pain in the chest
  • Having an elevated temperature
  • Panicking
  • Having elevated blood pressure
  • Being very agitated
  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Trouble breathing

An individual might die.1,2

Immediately phone 911 if an individual has any indication of overdose.2


Someone experiencing withdrawal might experience things including being tired, feeling anxious, having trouble sleeping, being disoriented, feeling depressed, cravings, thinking less quickly, and/or being paranoid.1,6

An individual might become suicidal.9,10 Call 911 or a suicide hotline immediately if you or someone else is suicidal.

An individual might overdose.9 Immediately phone 911 if you or another individual has any indication of overdose.2

Get Help

Treatment might help someone stop using for sufficient time for symptoms of withdrawal to go away.10

An individual with an addiction to cocaine might engage in behavioral therapy.1

Consult a healthcare provider if you possibly have an addiction to a drug.11

Someone with co-occurring problems ought to receive treatment for everything simultaneously.11


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). DrugFacts: What is cocaine?.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Effects of cocaine on brains and bodies.
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Department of Justice. (2017). Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide: 2017 edition.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Cocaine: What are the short-term effects of cocaine use?.
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Signs of cocaine use.
  6. Couper, F. J. & Logan, B. K. (2014). Drugs and human performance fact sheets.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine (coke, crack) facts.
  8. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Cocaine: Why are cocaine users at risk for contracting HIV/AIDS and hepatitis?.
  9. A.D.A.M., Inc. (2019). Cocaine withdrawal. In A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.
  10. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment: A treatment improvement protocol: TIP 45.
  11. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Step by step guides to finding treatment for drug use disorders.

About The Contributor

Sophie Stein, MSN
Sophie Stein, MSN

Clinical Editor

Sophie Stein received her master’s of science in nursing from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She previously worked as an advanced practice registered nurse at an outpatient psychiatric practice providing mental health care for children,... Read More

Get Help for Drug Addiction during Coronavirus

Traveling for healthcare & essential services is permitted across the US. Addiction treatment is essential, and we are here for our patients in this difficult time.

Learn More