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Drug Facts

What Is Cocaine?

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Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. Stimulants are a class of drugs that can elevate mood, increase feelings of well-being, and increase energy and alertness, but they also have dangerous effects like raising heart rate and blood pressure.

Cocaine comes in two forms:

  • Powder cocaine: Powder cocaine is a white powder (which scientists call a hydrochloride salt) made from the leaf of the coca plant. Street dealers generally mix cocaine with other substances like cornstarch, talcum powder, or sugar. They also mix cocaine with active drugs like procaine, a chemical that produces local anesthesia—a local anesthetic makes it so you don’t feel pain in a certain (local) area of the body— and with other stimulants like amphetamines.
  • Crack: Crack comes in the form of small white rocks that are smokeable. It gets its name from the cracking sound the rocks make when they are heated. Crack is often processed with ammonia or baking soda and water, and heated to remove the chemical hydrochloride.