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Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

    cocaine and depression

    Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

    Cocaine Effects. Is Cocaine a Stimulant? Is Cocaine a Depressant? What Is the Difference Between a Stimulant and a Depressant?

    What Is Cocaine? 

    Cocaine is a severely addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. It increases the natural chemical messenger (dopamine) levels in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward. Cocaine comes in a few different forms [1]. The most common is a fine, white powder. It can also be made into a solid rock crystal. What is the difference between crack cocaine and cocaine?

    Today, cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance [2], which means that it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some ear, eye, and throat surgeries. For people who use cocaine, depression after use is common, even when they do not use it regularly. The reason cocaine and depression have this relationship has to do with how the brain works. As a stimulant, cocaine activates the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the fight-or-flight response.

    No matter how much cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include heart attack and stroke. Addiction recovery professionals recommend facing cocaine addiction with a long-term treatment plan that promotes positive decision-making and overall health improvements that include learning coping skills.

    Cocaine Effects

    Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?
    Is cocaine a stimulant? Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is processed from coca plant leaves. 

    Cocaine creates a strong sense of exhilaration. Users generally feel invincible, carefree, alert, euphoric, and have a lot of energy. This is usually followed by agitation, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and decreased appetite. Cocaine effects generally last up to one hour. This drug is a potent and dangerous substance. The short-term and long-term cocaine effects are equally serious. The most serious danger is death, resulting in cardiac arrest or seizures followed by respiratory failure.

    Cocaine use contributes to tens of thousands of emergency department (ED) visits and hundreds of deaths each year [2]. While cocaine use is coincident in most cases, (e.g. trauma, psychiatric, or infections), cocaine overdose or cocaine poisoning accounts for many of these visits. The major effects of cocaine poisoning include CNS effects such as agitation, seizures, and psychosis, and cardiovascular effects such as dysrhythmias, myocardial infarction, and cardiovascular collapse.

    Cocaine is a highly addictive illegal drug used by 14-21 million people worldwide [3]. In 2018 there are 874,000 new cocaine users [4]. Since cocaine is combined or ‘cut’ with other chemicals, people have no idea if the dose will be weak or strong. These other chemicals may include fillers, such as paint chemicals, cornstarch, fentanyl, and its analogs, which are added purely to boost profits and often lead to the risk of cocaine perforated septum and cocaine and erectile dysfunction.

    What Are the Immediate Effects of Cocaine Use?

    Short-term physiological effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts of cocaine may intensify the user’s high but can also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia. Users may also experience tremors, vertigo, and muscle twitches.

    How Long Do Cocaine Effects Last?

    One of the most widespread cocaine myths is that cocaine highs last for days. You may hear people talk about staying awake on cocaine for days and wonder “how long does a cocaine high last?” The average cocaine high only lasts 15 to 30 minutes. But the reality is, in that situation, the person using cocaine is re-dosing over a long period of time. This is known as a cocaine binge.

    Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?
    Is cocaine a stimulant? This substance is a very strong stimulant, and it binds to dopamine transporters. 

    How long does it take to get addicted to cocaine? The method by which cocaine is used—whether it’s injected, smoked, snorted, or taken orally—can impact both the duration and intensity of the high. For example, snorting cocaine can give a relatively slow onset of the high that may last from 15 to 30 minutes. This is because it has to get through mucus, skin, and other tissues before hitting your bloodstream.

    Smoking this drug, on the other hand, will result in more rapid cocaine effects that last five to 10 minutes. But this high is typically instantly followed by a crash that can cause anxiety and tension, agitation, depression, and exhaustion. It’s this quick cycle that makes this illegal stimulant so addictive.

    Cocaine sends intense signals to the pleasure centers of the brain, which leads to increased alertness and a “high” feeling. Cocaine use can alter the brain after just one use, and regular use can lead to intense cravings, withdrawal, and neurological changes.

    What Is the Difference Between a Stimulant and a Depressant? 

    Most addictive substances come in two general classes: depressants and stimulants. Their names can infer the most fundamental way in which these two types differ. Stimulants stimulate the central nervous system (CNS), and depressants do the opposite, slowing it and all the parts of the body controlled by the central nervous system down.

    There are many other differences between stimulants and depressants. Due to the prevalence of recreational drug abuse, it’s important to be familiar with the effects of each type of drug in order to be able to recognize the signs of abuse, addiction, and overdose. Both stimulants and depressants claim lives every year due to overdose and other health problems related to long-term abuse. 


    Stimulants are often called “uppers,” the kinds of drugs that make individuals feel supercharged with focus and energy, even to the point of feeling invincible. They send the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) into overdrive, increasing breathing and heart rates, causing a spike in blood pressure, and suppressing appetite. Certain stimulants can cause a rush of euphoria, especially if they’re taken via common abuse methods like smoking, snorting, or injection.

    The most commonly used and abused stimulants include:

    • Nicotine
    • Caffeine
    • Cocaine/crack cocaine
    • Methamphetamine (meth)
    • MDMA (ecstasy)
    • Ritalin
    • Adderall

    Caffeine and nicotine are, of course, legal and mild stimulants that many people use to get themselves going throughout the day, but they come with their own adverse side effects, especially if the drink or cigarette includes harmful additives. Cocaine, meth, and ecstasy are mainly considered to be “street” drugs that have few legitimate medical uses. Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are stimulant medications that are mostly used legally to treat medical conditions, but they have been increasingly abused by individuals without a prescription.


    Depressants come in several categories, including legal and socially approved intoxicants, highly illegal street drugs, and different prescription anxiety medications and painkillers. They work by inhibiting the central nervous system (CNS) and slowing the heart rate and gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. This results in a feeling of relaxation, peace, and often sleepiness. These drugs can also produce intense euphoria, particularly if abusing opioids. This makes opioids particularly addictive.

    Common depressants with abuse potential include:

    • Heroin
    • Alcohol
    • Morphine
    • Xanax
    • Vicodin
    • Codeine
    • OxyContin
    • Valium
    • Fentanyl
    • Amobarbital
    • Phenobarbital

    Heroin, Vicodin, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, and OxyContin are all opioid painkillers. Heroin is actually very similar to morphine and essentially turns into morphine in the brain. However, it tends to be more potent and, due to the fact that it’s highly illegal, is often cut with other substances. 

    Due to both their pain-relieving and pleasant, relaxing effects, prescription opioids are some of the most commonly abused drugs of the modern age. They often end up restricted by governments after years of being overprescribed by doctors, resulting in them saturating black markets or simply being shared by friends and family.

    Other prescription depressants include benzodiazepines (Xanax and Valium) and barbiturates (phenobarbital and amobarbital ). These medications were prescribed for decades as supposed solutions to anxiety disorders and stress. Barbiturates came first, but it was soon found that these drugs were both highly addictive and had a high potential for overdose. Benzodiazepines were developed as a safer alternative, but they are still both dangerous and addictive.

    is cocaine a stimulant or depressant
    Long-term cocaine effects can include changes in the brain’s dopamine system, which can lead to tolerance.

    Is Cocaine a Stimulant?

    Is cocaine a stimulant or depressant? This is an important question so you can recognize cocaine addiction. Cocaine affects the body by creating a feeling of euphoria, also referred to as a rush, as well as feelings of alertness and high energy — effects common to the stimulant class of drugs. Cocaine drug abuse quickly builds a tolerance to the drug which results in the need to take more of it to achieve the same kind of rush, and increased use of cocaine can have negative effects on your health.

    Stimulants facilitate the activity of the monoamine neurotransmitters, i.e., dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, in the central (CNS) and peripheral nervous systems. Both cocaine and amphetamines act on presynaptic monoamine reuptake transporters, but each in unique ways. Cocaine is a reuptake inhibitor, i.e., it blocks the action of the reuptake transporter thus allowing more neurotransmitters to stay active in the synapse. Amphetamines are releasers, i.e., they are taken up by the transporter in exchange for neurotransmitter release into the synapse [3].

    Is Cocaine a Depressant?

    If you find out that someone you love is abusing cocaine, it is normal to ask the question, is cocaine a stimulant or depressant? The basic answer is that cocaine is a stimulant. This means that using cocaine speeds up or stimulates the systems and functions of the body. This very powerful stimulant is derived from the coca plant. When it is used, it speeds up the central nervous system. This is why cocaine is often called a party drug. It makes people feel energetic and euphoric. Cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse.

    Stimulant drugs can increase alertness or concentration in the short term. They can also inhibit tiredness, which means that it is challenging to rest or sleep while under the influence of cocaine. Stimulants can speed up heart rate and increase blood pressure. This can cause a lot of problems, particularly for anyone with cardiac issues to begin with.

    Cocaine Addiction Treatment Near Me

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

    In addition, prolonged Cocaine use can have severe physical and psychological effects, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you get through the early stages of withdrawal promptly. There are several myths about cocaine and other drugs, so you might be wondering is cocaine a stimulant or depressant?

    Medically-Assisted Detox

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

    Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.


    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 making changes in 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 Behavior 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.” 
    • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
    • 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. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder 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. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

    Medication-Assisted Treatments

    Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

    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 medically assist your recovery. 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.

    is cocaine a stimulant or depressant
    Is cocaine a stimulant or depressant? This is as important a question as can you recognize cocaine addiction.

    [1] NCBI –
    [2] NCBI –
    [3] NCBI –
    [4] Cocaine Overdose – We Level Up NJ