What Does Cocaine Feel Like?

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In 2020, it was reported that 5.2 million people aged 12 and older used cocaine in the past 12 months. Cocaine users primarily administer cocaine by snorting the powder through the nostrils, which is absorbed through the bloodstream. The frequency of cocaine use amongst young adults may make people wonder, what does cocaine feel like?

Cocaine effects occur immediately after a single dose and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. Small amounts of cocaine make people feel euphoric, energetic, talkative, and alert. It can also cause hypersensitivity to light, sounds, and touch. Cocaine decreases the need for eating and sleeping and helps people perform tasks more quickly. However, as is true with every substance, some people may experience a variety of sensations.

In this article, we will discuss what cocaine feels like, how people may experience a variety of sensations, and what you can do if you need help with your cocaine use.

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What Does a Cocaine High Feel Like?

A euphoria and a sudden rush instantly take over. This excitement and jolt of energy are what drive people to want more hits of cocaine. Because this intense feeling only lasts for a short period, for some people only a matter of minutes, it makes people want to experience that extreme cocaine high over and over again.

In addition to the sensations of euphoria and increased energy, physiological effects also occur when a person uses cocaine. Short-term physiological effects from cocaine include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Unfortunately, because of a person’s desire to use more cocaine to chase the sensations one may experience can lead to dangerous results.

Increased cocaine use can lead to impulsive and violent behaviors. Some cocaine users experience restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia. Users may also experience tremors or muscle twitching.

Psychological & Emotional Effects of a Cocaine High

There are many psychological and emotional effects of experiencing a cocaine high. Symptoms include agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, and violence, suicidal and homicidal ideation. If a person has a mental health disorder while using cocaine, it can intensify or exacerbate those underlying mental health symptoms.

Research has found paranoia in 68-84% of patients using cocaine. 55% of people were found to have engaged in violent behaviors, and homicide occurred in 31% of patients who used cocaine. Suicide has appeared in 18-22% of cases. Finally, many people diagnosed with a comorbid psychological disorder were found to have cocaine dependence.

Feelings of Euphoria & Energy

The primary sensation people report experiencing after using cocaine is euphoria and increased energy. Euphoria is a feeling of intense pleasure. The same chemical reactions in the brain occur when someone uses cocaine, receives a reward, or completes an accomplishment. This neurological component leads to people wanting to use cocaine repeatedly.

Increase in Confidence

Many people who use cocaine also report an increased feeling of self-confidence. This can be described as grandiosity, a mental health symptom for people quickly shifting moods and beliefs of one’s self. This feeling is more than just feeling good about oneself, but feeling better and more superior to others.

Unfortunately, this false confidence can backfire for many people. For one, this excessive self-confidence can lead to conflict and impulsive behaviors, leading to the ending of relationships and increased violence. A person may experience anxiety after using cocaine due to the behaviors one may engage in, leading to more issues with negative self-esteem.

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Cocaine Highs Can Lead to Cocaine Lows

As mentioned, cocaine has an immediate high; however, it only lasts 15-30 minutes. This leads to frequent use and can unintentionally lead to an overdose and a sudden low in behaviors as one person is coming off the high. When a person starts to come down from a high, they may experience withdrawal symptoms quickly.

This experience of coming down from a cocaine high is called a cocaine crash. Here are the common symptoms one may experience when they have hit a cocaine crash.

Symptoms of a cocaine crash include: 

  • Agitation.
  • Irritability.
  • Restlessness.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Mood swings.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Depression.
  • Suicidal thoughts.
  • Increased appetite.

There can be severe consequences if continued cocaine use occurs or if a person attempts to detox without medical assistance. If you need help detoxing cocaine from your body, Guardian Recovery can help.

Depression, Sadness, & Guilt

When someone is coming down from cocaine use, they often experience symptoms of depression, sadness, and guilt. These symptoms can be exacerbated if a person has a comorbid mood disorder. This is also a neurobiological reaction when dopamine has been impacted by drug use.

Anxiety

Not only does anxiety occur when using cocaine, but many people may experience anxiety after coming down from a cocaine high. This is because of the chemical reactions occurring in the brain and the stress that occurs when a person may behave with extreme reactions in a social setting.

Sleeplessness

Cocaine decreases a person’s ability to sleep and eat. Sleep disturbances can occur during and even months after a person discontinues cocaine use. Cocaine not only disrupts a person’s ability to sleep but causes restlessness and disrupts and prevented deep sleep from occurring.

Paranoia

Paranoia is a common symptom people may experience when using cocaine. Research has found that it does not depend on the frequency of use but on whether they may have the predisposition to experience paranoia with drug use.

Fatigue

Feeling tired is a natural symptom for people to experience during withdrawal. In addition to the physiological toll, cocaine stresses the body and naturally induces fatigue when someone comes off the substance. Additionally, a person may be up for several hours if using cocaine and may feel the effects of sleep exhaustion.

Hallucinations

Drug-induced hallucinations occur in people who are high from cocaine or withdrawing from the substance. In addition, a person can experience a hallucination from the drug, or it can trigger hallucinations related to schizophrenia if a person is likely to have schizophrenia. The type of hallucination is typically visual but can also occur as an auditory hallucination.

Panic, Agitation, & Anger

A person may experience symptoms of panic, agitation, and anger when increasingly using cocaine throughout the night or if withdrawing from cocaine. In addition, this type of behavior can occur from increased feelings of anxiety and depression. As previously discussed, many people can engage in impulsive and violent behavior when using cocaine.

Duration of Feelings & Effects of a High

A person may experience the feeling of a cocaine high for 15-30 minutes. The most common experiences reported include a rush of euphoria and intense energy. The type of cocaine use can increase the intensity of euphoric sensations but also decrease the duration of symptoms experienced. Because the pleasurable sensations only last minutes, this can lead to increased use and unintentional overdose. It can also cause a more severe crash as a person withdraws from the drug.

Do Methods of Use Affect What Cocaine Feels Like?

The method by which a person uses cocaine does affect a person’s experience and the duration of symptoms. As mentioned previously, snorting is the most common way to use cocaine. This method typically creates sensations instantly and lasts for 15-30 minutes. Other methods include gumming, smoking, and injecting. Gumming cocaine will often have a duration of 15-30 minutes while smoking or injecting only lasts 5 to 15 minutes in duration.

Can Mixing Cocaine Alter the Experience of a High?

Mixing cocaine and other substances can be very dangerous. When alcohol and cocaine are combined, it creates an effect known as cocaethylene. Cocaethylene is produced in the liver after consuming alcohol and cocaine together. It is more potent than the individual substance and stays in the body much longer than if only alcohol or cocaine is used alone. Because of the increased toxicity and slow release from the body, people may be tempted to try this combination. However, there are significant lethal risks involved if mixing alcohol and cocaine.

Unfortunately, the side effects of cocaethylene are fast-acting and deadly. A person has an 18-25 times greater risk of immediate death when cocaethylene is produced. Notably, a person has a greater chance of overdose due to toxicity and cardiotoxicity, which may lead to cardiac arrest.

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  1. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181074/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3177010/
  4. https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/abs/10.1176/ajp.148.4.495?journalCode=ajp

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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