Is Cocaine a Stimulant or a Depressant?

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?
  2. What are Stimulants?
  3. What can Misuse of Stimulants Cause?
  4. What are Depressants?
  5. What Can Misuse of Depressants Cause?
  6. What are Cocaine and Crack?
  7. Is Crack Cocaine a Stimulant or a Depressant?
  8. What can Misuse of Crack and Cocaine Cause?
  9. Cocaine Treatment

Many wonder which category cocaine lies in. Is cocaine a depressant? Or is coke a stimulant? Read on as Avenues Recovery identifies what cocaine is and the difference between stimulants and depressants.

Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug or an “upper” because it accelerates the central nervous system (CNS) and induces a high, euphoric feeling. Unfortunately, since cocaine and crack are addictive, they are widely abused and can cause irreparable damage or even death.

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What are Stimulants?

A stimulant is a drug that increases activity in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and stimulates neural activity in the brain. When prescribed, stimulants can assist therapeutically with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), narcolepsy, and occasionally depression. Examples of prescribed stimulants include Amphetamines (Adderall and Dexedrine) and Methylphenidate (Concerta and Ritalin). As mentioned before, cocaine is a stimulant as well.

Unfortunately, stimulants are widely abused because of the feelings of exhilaration they elicit. Examples of dangerous stimulants include: amphetamines, cocaine and crack, caffeine, nicotine and Ecstasy. They are sometimes referred to as ‘uppers.’

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What can Misuse of Stimulants Cause?

Stimulants are highly addictive because they cause an increase in certain pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine increases pleasurable sensations within the reward circuitry in the brain and norepinephrine causes physical changes in the body, such as increased blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature and respiratory rate.

Stimulants typically reduce appetite, and when the effects wear off, can cause fatigue, hunger and depression.

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What are Depressants?

Depressants, true to their name, depress and slow down the central nervous system, and can assist in a range of mental disorders. There are different types of prescribed depressants including: Zyprexa, Seroquel and Haldol (known as ‘major tranquilizers’ or ‘antipsychotics,’ as they are supposed to reduce the symptoms of mental illness), Xanax, Klonopin, Halcion and Librium (often referred to as ‘benzos’), and Amytal, Numbutal and Seconal, (called ‘barbiturates’ and are used as sedatives and sleeping pills).

Depressants are also highly addictive because they produce a state of euphoria, relaxation and deep calm. Alcohol, heroin and tranquillizers are all commonly misused depressants, often called ‘downers.’

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What Can Misuse of Depressants Cause?

Since depressants relax and calm the body, they can easily become addictive. Large doses can cause confusion, lack of coordination, dizziness, fatigue, lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rate and slowed breathing, among other things.

It is also possible to become physically addicted to depressants because brain cells change in an effort to regulate the amount of neurotransmitters that bind to the appropriate receptors. Consequently, there can be severe withdrawal symptoms if one stops taking the drug, including anxiety, insomnia, increased heart rate and seizures.

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What are Cocaine and Crack?

Cocaine is a drug derived from the Coca plant and commonly found as a whiteish, powdery substance. It is usually snorted or rubbed on the gums but can also be dissolved in water and injected. Cocaine is relatively expensive, whereas crack is its base form and is a lot cheaper to produce, resulting in greater popularity. Crack is usually produced in the form of a rock and can also be smoked.

Learn more about Cocaine and Crack

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Is Crack Cocaine a Stimulant or a Depressant?

People often wonder if crack cocaine is a stimulant or a depressant. The answer is that cocaine is a stimulant. It disrupts the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which can increase the level of excitement and activity in the body.

Is Cocaine a Hallucinogen?

Cocaine is a hallucinogen since it can cause hallucinations and altered states of consciousness. Cocaine can majorly influence one’s mood, perceptions, and thoughts.

Learn more about Hallucinogens

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What Can Misuse of Crack and Cocaine Cause?

Abusing Cocaine results in many negative and unpleasant short-term side effects, including:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Paranoia, anxiety, depression
  • Mood swings and irritability

The long-term effects include:

  • If snorted: loss of smell, nosebleeds, problems with swallowing
  • If smoked: asthma, coughing, respiratory illness
  • If consumed by mouth: severe bowel decay caused by reduced blood flow
  • If injected by needle: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, skin or soft tissue infections and scarring, and collapsed veins.

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Cocaine Treatment

Cocaine addiction is a life-threatening condition that cannot be treated without professional help. A reputable drug rehab center like Avenues Recovery can provide detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient rehabilitation programs, and help you learn how to live a life of recovery. You or your loved one can be drug free! All you have to do is make that first call to start on the path toward finding your way home. Learn more about cocaine addiction treatment.

To discover fascinating information about cocaine, such as the recipe for cocaine, when cocaine was removed from coke and how much is an 8-ball, read our online resources.

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Brooke Abner,

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