Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant? What Type of Drug is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal Schedule II drug that is often snorted. If you use cocaine, talk to us about rehab treatment for drug abuse. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with cocaine addiction.

Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is processed from coca plant leaves. Is cocaine a CNS stimulant? This drug results in the stimulation of the central nervous system (CNS) through effects such as increased heart and breathing rates, periods of high energy, and feelings of well-being. Stimulant drugs like cocaine can increase alertness or concentration in the short term. They can also inhibit tiredness, which makes it challenging to rest or sleep under the influence of cocaine. In addition, cocaine stimulates the heart rate and increases blood pressure. This can cause a lot of problems, particularly for anyone with cardiac issues.

Cocaine affects the brain by interfering with the way that nerve cells communicate. This substance is a strong stimulant, binding to dopamine transporters. This prevents dopamine from being recycled, resulting in an increased dopamine level in the synapse. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with feelings of pleasure. Cocaine works by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain. Almost immediately after using cocaine, users will feel this increase, and it can result in pleasure or the so-called “high”. This is the reason cocaine use can result in a feeling of euphoria.

What are Stimulants?

Stimulants are a class of drugs that result in increased activity in the body’s central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. They increase the levels of catecholamines—a group of brain chemicals that includes dopamine. These chemicals are used in the brain processes to signal reward and motivation. By increasing catecholamine levels, stimulants can temporarily increase a person’s energy level and alertness.

It is sometimes referred to as “uppers,” these drugs are frequently abused because of their euphoric and performance-enhancing effects. Typically, those who abuse stimulants undergo enhanced focus and heightened energy levels. Stimulants may also cause other changes in the body. The effects vary according to the specific drug, the amount of the drug, and how the drug is taken. For instance, stimulants that are snorted or injected have more immediate effects than drugs that are swallowed.

There are both legal and illegal stimulants, and both categories are commonly abused. Some of the most commonly abused stimulants include cocaine, methamphetamines, and prescription stimulants, like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta. Illegal stimulants refer to highly addictive and illegal substances such as cocaine, meth, ecstasy, crack, and amphetamines. Amphetamines and cocaine were originally used medicinally. In fact, cocaine was once called the “wonder drug.” But their addictive properties have made both unsafe for use.

Examples of Stimulants (Illegal)

The illegal stimulants most commonly used include:


Cocaine is a powerfully addictive illegal stimulant made from the South American coca plant’s leaves and normally comes in a powder form. Street names for Cocaine include coke, blow, bump, and snow. Cocaine is most commonly injected or snorted and can also be smoked or administered to the skin.

Crack Cocaine

Crack is the more potent and pure form of Cocaine, which typically comes in crystals or solid blocks. These illegal stimulants are typically smoked (also known as freebasing), allowing them to reach the brain more quickly and result in a short-lived – yet intense – high. It is also increasingly commonly injected. 


Meth is an intensely dangerous illegal stimulant that can cause users to become instantly addicted. The short-term effects of Meth include euphoria and alertness. However, long-term use of Meth can lead to problems such as violent behavior, severe dental problems (meth mouth), psychosis, and severe paranoia.


MDMA, Molly, or “ecstasy,” comes in the form of a pill. In addition to affecting dopamine levels in the brain, MDMA affects the nerve cells in the brain that use the chemical serotonin to communicate with other nerve cells. Like other illegal stimulants, the effects of MDMA can include increased energy and feelings of well-being.

Effects of Cocaine

Cocaine use ranges from once in a while to nonstop. Unfortunately, there is no safe way to use the drug—anyway it’s taken can lead to a stroke or a heart attack that could be deadly. And using cocaine during the hot summer months is more likely to cause overdose and death.

Cocaine is a stimulant. Its effects appear immediately after a single dose and disappear within a few minutes to less than an hour. The illicit drug often makes the user feel excited, happy, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert. It also can briefly decrease the need for sleep and food. The short-term effects include increased heart rate and blood pressure, constricted or narrowed blood vessels, increased temperature, and dilated pupils.

Cocaine also may cause erratic, bizarre, and violent behavior. It can cause hallucinations and psychosis. The health consequences of long-term cocaine abuse include heart attacks, disturbances in heart rhythm, respiratory failure, seizures, strokes, convulsions, and coma. Cocaine abusers are at increased risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. This is due to sharing contaminated needles and other drug paraphernalia. It’s also due to increased risky sexual behaviors.

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Cocaine Addiction Statistics

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020. Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020. In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

5.2 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020.

Source: NIH

1.3 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020.

Source: NIH


In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

Source: NIH

Cocaine Drug Fact Sheet


Cocaine is a stimulant drug obtained from the leaves of two Coca species native to South America, Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense.

Common Street Names for Cocaine

Cocaine base (smokable): Base, black rock, crack, electric kool-aid, rock, gravel, purple caps, Scotty, scramble, supercoke, twinkie, window pane, yam

Cocaine HCl: Aspirin, Big C, blow, coconut, coke, devil’s dandruff, flake, Florida snow, foo-foo dust, happy dust, lady, nose candy, white dragon, white lady, yao

Cocaine paste: Basuco, bazooka, pasta

Cocaine + heroin: Belushi, bipping, blanco, boy-girl, dynamite, goof ball, he-she, murder one, sandwich, snowball, speedball

Cocaine + marijuana: 51, banano, bazooka, blunt, C & M, candy sticks, caviar, champagne, cocktail, cocoa puff, crack bash, dirties, geek-joint, Greek, lace, P-dogs, premos, primo, Sherman stick, woo blunts, woolie

Cocaine + MDMA (ecstasy): Bumping up

Cocaine + MDMA + LSD: Candy flipping on a string

Cocaine + morphine: C & M

Cocaine + heroin + methamphetamine + flunitrazepam + alcohol: Five-way

Short Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Extreme happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Some long-term health effects of cocaine depend on the method of use and include the following:

  • snorting: loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing
  • smoking: cough, asthma, respiratory distress, and higher risk of infections like pneumonia
  • consuming by mouth: severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • needle injection: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, skin or soft tissue infections, as well as scarring or collapsed veins
Is Cocaine a depressant? No. Cocaine is a stimulant drug that gives your body a euphoric rush and, like other stimulants, an “up” feeling that can last as long as you keep using it. 
Is Cocaine a depressant? No. Cocaine is a stimulant drug that gives your body a euphoric rush and, like other stimulants, an “up” feeling that can last as long as you keep using it. 

Link Between Cocaine and Depression

Depression is a mental health condition frequently co-occurring with substance use. The relationship between the two disorders is bi-directional, meaning that people who abuse drugs are more likely to suffer from depression, and vice versa.

According to a study from the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI), Depressive disorders have been the most commonly diagnosed comorbid condition among cocaine abusers. The effects of short- and longer-term cocaine abstinence on depressive symptoms are also of interest.

Depression is linked with lower levels of dopamine, and cocaine causes an influx of it. It is still uncertain whether dopamine cells are destroyed or just dysregulated by cocaine use, and if such changes could be reversed. Either way, cocaine has a scientifically proven negative effect on the neurons that produce dopamine. It is presumed that these neurons can repair themselves, but it takes time and dedication. Users often struggle with depression during recovery after chronic cocaine use, and it takes time to become accustomed to life without these added substances affecting brain chemistry.

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Does Cocaine Make You Depressed?

Yes, there is scientific evidence to support that cocaine abuse can cause depression. Cocaine and depression are interconnected. The more chronic the cocaine use, the higher the risk of developing depression and long-term brain damage. Depression is common in cocaine users. The rate of depression recorded in chronic and long-term cocaine abusers is significantly higher than in the rest of the general population.

Chronic and prolonged cocaine abuse causes substantial changes and damage to the brain’s reward system, neurotransmitters, and brain cells. As a result, tolerance to cocaine builds, and less dopamine is produced. With cocaine users, eventually, the only way they can feel pleasure is to take increasing amounts of cocaine. When not taking cocaine, they are likely to feel severely depressed and unmotivated and suffer mood swings.

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Depression After Cocaine

Most of the time, this shift isn’t an issue because individuals feel relieved to have escaped a threat or overcome a stressful challenge and enjoy resting afterward. However, when substances trigger these changes, there is nothing to feel relieved about when their effects wear off. The disappointment individuals feel as cocaine rapidly wears off is one of the ways the drug can cause depression, especially when people experience it repeatedly.

Does cocaine make you depressed? The primary way cocaine causes depression is by directly changing the brain. In addition to norepinephrine, cocaine also increases serotonin and dopamine levels. People feel euphoric when the brain is flooded with higher levels of these chemicals than usual. Afterward, the brain enters a recovery period during which these now-depleted neurotransmitters return to normal levels. Unfortunately, during this phase, people feel worse than they did before.

Many individuals are familiar with these short-term effects but aren’t sure about the long-term effects of cocaine use. For example, does cocaine cause depression that lasts long enough to require treatment? Yes, cocaine depression happens, especially if people progress to cocaine dependence and start experiencing cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Cocaine is a stimulant drug because it accelerates the central nervous system (CNS) and induces a high, euphoric feeling. 
Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Cocaine is a stimulant drug because it accelerates the central nervous system (CNS) and induces a high, euphoric feeling. 

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Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain.
Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain.

What Is the Difference Between a Stimulant and a Depressant?

Is cocaine stimulant? Cocaine is a stimulant drug. But what does this mean? Basically, stimulant drugs increase activity in the central nervous system (CNS), speeding up messages between the brain and body. Cocaine stimulant drugs are sometimes known as uppers. Although many stimulants, such as cocaine, are illegal, prescription drugs, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are stimulants, as are nicotine and coffee. Although medications prescribed by a medical professional should only be taken as advised, prescription stimulants are often taken recreationally to increase confidence, elevate mood, or enhance focus.

Is Cocaine a depressant? No. Depressant drugs, on the other hand, are often known as downers. This is because these drugs have the opposite effect on the central nervous system (CNS) and slow down brain activity. Common prescription depressants include benzos and opioids. Alcohol is also a depressant.

One common misconception is that you can take an upper and a downer simultaneously to cancel out the dangers. This is wrong, though. Mixing substances can bring an increased risk of overdose and other adverse effects. Taking alcohol and cocaine simultaneously, for example, is particularly dangerous. Likewise, using stimulants and depressants is considered substance abuse when not prescribed to you.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs.  Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of cocaine addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of cocaine withdrawal

Cocaine Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated cocaine detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the cocaine detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Cocaine Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using cocaine and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.


Many rehab programs will also have early morning classes or programs. Group sessions occur during inpatient rehab, as do individual therapy sessions. Family therapy may be part of inpatient rehab when it’s feasible. Alternative forms of therapy may be introduced during inpatient rehab, like a holistic therapy program, yoga for addiction recovery, or an addiction treatment massage therapy.

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our opioid addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Cocaine Rehab Near Me

Cocaine stimulant addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Are you concerned about signs of drug use in your child, or another loved one? 
Is Cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Are you concerned about signs of drug use in your child, or another loved one? 
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