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Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

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This brief guide will help those who wonder, “Is cocaine a depressant or a stimulant?” Most addictive drugs are categorized in one of three groups:

  1. Stimulants
  2. Depressants
  3. Hallucinogens

Understanding the distinct physical and psychological effects that each category of drug triggers can help inform responsible consumption and prevent adverse outcomes. Is cocaine stimulant or depressant, then?

What Is Cocaine Classified As?

Since the effects of cocaine use produce intense feelings of euphoria, cocaine is classified as a stimulant drug. Other effects of stimulants of the CNS (central nervous system) include:

  • Increased alertness
  • Heightened energy levels
  • Talkativeness 
  • Boosted confidence

Cocaine use interferes with how nerve cells communicate with each other in the CNS. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. The drug also affects the brain’s natural reward system, triggering intense pleasure and energy.

Cocaine has limited medical uses outside anesthesia and is considered illegal in the U.S. The DEA (United States Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II drug due to its significant potential for abuse, addiction, and the development of severe psychological and physical dependency.

Illicit cocaine usually comes in a powdered form that can be snorted, smoked, or injected intravenously. To increase their profits, drug dealers frequently dilute cocaine powder with bulking substances like baking powder, cornstarch, or baby powder. Increasingly, cocaine is being laced with fentanyl, the deadly synthetic opioid.

Cocaine is also available in a crystalline rock form called crack cocaine. Crack is heated and the smoke produced is inhaled through a glass pipe. The drug is named for the cracking sound it emits when heated. 

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Is cocaine a stimulant or depressant?

Cocaine is categorized as a stimulant of the central nervous system.

Is cocaine considered a depressant?

No, cocaine is considered a stimulant.

Why Is Cocaine a Stimulant?

Cocaine is classified as a stimulant due to its impact on the central nervous system. It exerts stimulating effects on the body and mind, primarily by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters or chemical messengers in the brain.

  • Dopamine: Cocaine interferes with the reuptake of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that plays a role in motivation, reward, and pleasure. By blocking its reuptake, cocaine leads to an accumulation of dopamine in the synaptic cleft, resulting in intense feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and heightened alertness.
  • Norepinephrine: Cocaine also affects norepinephrine levels, which play a role in the body’s fight-or-flight response. Increased norepinephrine leads to heightened alertness, increased heart rate, and a surge of energy. This is why cocaine is often referred to as a stimulant.
  • Serotonin: While not as pronounced as with dopamine and norepinephrine, cocaine can also influence serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation, and its alteration can contribute to the stimulating and mood-enhancing effects of the drug.

These combined actions make cocaine a potent stimulant drug. It results in the characteristic effects associated with stimulants, including increased energy, alertness, and heightened euphoria. However, these effects are often followed by a crash when the drug wears off, which can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and a strong craving for more cocaine, contributing to its addictive nature.

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Find Treatment for Cocaine Addiction at Drug Rehabs Centers

If you or a loved one needs cocaine addiction treatment in California, shortcut your search by calling Drug Rehabs Centers.

Although there are no medications approved by the FDA for treating cocaine withdrawal, you may still benefit from supervised detoxification. Detox also acts as a bridge to ongoing recovery. We can help you connect with suitable facilities throughout the state of California. We can also assist you with finding appropriate addiction treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting.

All rehabs that we recommend offer evidence-based interventions proven effective for treating cocaine addiction. Call (844) 739-2005 for immediate assistance.

Juan Bonnet
Author: Juan Bonnet


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