Injecting cocaine is very risky and can lead to numerous adverse effects. While it’s more commonly snorted as a white powder or smoked in the form of the crack), it can be liquified and injected similarly to heroin. Cocaine is a stimulating drug, meaning that individuals will experience increased energy and euphoria and may remain awake for an extended period when individuals consume it.
Cocaine is derived from the coca plant that grows naturally in South America. The Drug Enforcement Administration has classified the drug as a Schedule II substance in the United States, meaning that it has some limited medical use and a relatively high potential for abuse and addiction.
Cocaine is also often used in conjunction with other substances, ranging from relatively benign household products, such as flour or cornstarch, to noxious chemicals or other drugs, such as heroin. Cocaine is often laced or cut with other contaminants because it allows dealers to increase their profits on a smaller amount of the drug.
When an individual uses cocaine, the high can be intense but also very brief. For this reason, cocaine is often abused in a binge-like pattern repeated over several hours to maintain a high. Cocaine produces a high by affecting neurochemicals in the brain responsible for feelings of well-being, such as dopamine.
There are two primary forms of cocaine: water-soluble hydrochloride salt and another non-soluble substance known as freebase. Hydrochloride salt can be snorted or injected. The base form of cocaine is processed using baking soda or ammonia and water and then heated, which results in a substance that can be smoked, also commonly known as crack.
Cocaine abuse in any form is risky, but injecting is probably the most dangerous form of this behavior. IV drug use may be even more hazardous because it’s more likely that this behavior will develop an addiction. It can also lead to severe mental, emotional, and physical side effects.
When a person smokes cocaine, they will receive the fastest effects, but some individuals prefer shooting up cocaine because it tends to induce a more intense high. Most persons who inject cocaine do so to achieve a more intense high or become tolerant of other methods, such as snorting, and can no longer experience the effects they are using.
When injecting cocaine, it must first be diluted in a water solution, and then it can be administered directly into the body, preferably a vein. However, it can also be injected just under the skin but not into a vein, using a method referred to as “skin popping.”
Effects of Injected Cocaine
Some of the psycho-emotional side effects of injecting cocaine include aggression, depression, paranoia, fatigue, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, and confusion. The high may be more intense and rapid than other administration routes, but unfortunately, the crash or “come down” is often more severe.
Other acute effects of cocaine can include the following:
- Increased energy/alertness
- Elevated mood
- Feelings of grandiosity
- Excited, rapid speech
Although injecting cocaine is the most dangerous method, ingesting cocaine in other ways can result in similar side effects. When an individual develops a dependence on a drug like cocaine, their brain and body have adapted to operate within the context of the drug’s presence. After this, sudden cessation of use will result in unpleasant withdrawal effects as the person’s nervous system struggles to regain balance.
When an individual injects cocaine, there are other unique risks in addition to the general dangers of the substance itself, many of which are related to the administration of multiple injections. This behavior is harmful to blood vessel linings, and they may ultimately collapse. Outwards signs of abuse may include skin sores, track marks, abscesses, and infections.
Also, when cocaine is garnered on the black market it frequently includes impurities, which can cause an accumulation of residue along the blood vessel passages. When this transpires, injecting cocaine can lead to cardiac problems. There is also a risk of contracting infections, including hepatitis and HIV, particularly if unsterilized needles were shared with another person.
Getting Help for Cocaine Abuse
Using cocaine is not a great idea, and if you are planning on trying to inject it, you should strongly reconsider. Injecting cocaine repeatedly will likely result in the development of tolerance, dependence, and full-blown addiction. Escalating drug use is never the answer, and if you or someone you known needs help with addiction, you are urged to seek out long-term, comprehensive treatment.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer a modern, evidence-based approach to addiction as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. Our programs, including detox, partial hospitalization, and residential treatment, incorporate various therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, art and music therapy, and group support, which are clinically proven to be beneficial for the recovery process.