Cocaine is a stimulant which temporarily speeds up the way your mind and body work but the effects are short-lived. Cocaine is more commonly snorted whilst crack cocaine is generally smoked in a pipe.


Crack tends to have a much stronger effect and can be more addictive than snorting cocaine. Cocaine and crack both effect the levels of dopamine in the brain (a natural chemical which is released when we are happy or having a pleasurable experience) which give users a high. However, long term use of these drugs mean that we have less dopamine in our brains leading to low mood and even depression.


The effects of cocaine/crack can include feeling confident, alert and energised, however the come down after using can result in not being able to sleep, feeling agitated and low mood.


It raises body temperature and makes the heart beat faster which can lead to heart attacks.


If you share pipes or notes (tubes) to snort with there is a possibility of transmitting blood borne viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C.


The come down can leave users feeling tired and run down. In some cases, feelings of depression after using can lead to thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide.

7 Tips to Reduce the Harms

The best way to keep yourself safe is to avoid drugs completely. But if you are using cocaine, there are some simple steps you can take to lower the risks.

  • Try not to use drugs alone. It’s best to be with people you trust, who will get help if you need it.
  • Try not to mix cocaine and alcohol, or any other drugs. Lots of people don’t use cocaine while sober, but decide to when they are drunk. This can make it more likely to binge and take too much.
  • Drugs and alcohol together can put extra strain on your heart and liver. You might also make poor decisions and take risks you wouldn’t usually take, which could be dangerous.
  • Start with a very small amount and see how you feel. Not all cocaine has the same purity and strength, so it can be hard to judge the dose. Try and stick to small lines to avoid taking too much.
  • Don’t use or share banknotes to snort cocaine. They can be dirty and can spread blood-borne viruses. If you’re using a straw or a tube, don’t share it with other people. Ideally, use a clean surface for cutting up lines.
  • Make sure you drink enough water. Drinking water keeps you hydrated, and makes you less likely to mix cocaine and alcohol.
  • Know the signs of an overdose: your heart going too fast, a very high temperature, feeling sick and vomiting, chest pains, seizures, or panic and anxiety. If you think you or someone else is having an overdose, call 999 straight away.
Cutting Down or Quitting

If you’re thinking of addressing your cocaine use, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

There are also some steps you can take yourself to help you cut down or quit:

  • Look out for any ‘triggers’ that make you want to do cocaine. It might be when you drink, or when you’re with certain people, for example.
  • If you can figure out your triggers, you can start to make a plan. You might want to cut some triggers out completely or avoid combinations that give you cravings. Changing your habits or breaking off contact with certain friends can be difficult, but it often helps in the long term.
  • If you usually do cocaine after drinking, you might want to cut down on alcohol as well. Some people don’t use cocaine while they’re sober, but are more likely to take risks while they’re drinking. You can find advice on cutting down your drinking here.
  • Take a limited amount of cash out with you, and leave your bank card at home. This means you’re less likely to spend money on cocaine. Ask your friends to help you stick to your money limit.
  • Work out how much money you spend on cocaine a month. The cost might shock you. Make a list of all the other things you could do with that money.
  • Some people find it useful to make a list of all the reasons they don’t want to take cocaine. ‘I’ll have a better relationship with my friends and family’, for example. Use the list to help you stay focused.
Support & Services

If you are worried about your relationship with cocaine, it is important to reach out. There are a number of non-judgemental friendly services who can help.


The Switchboard Ireland

Outhouse, 105 Capel St, Dublin 1.

The Switchboard Ireland is Ireland’s longest running support service for the LGBT+ community. LGBT+ volunteers are available 7 days a week on phone, email and online chat to offer confidential listening, support and information. Thursdays: Substance Abuse, Chems, Narcotics, Alcohol 6:30pm – 9pm.

Phone 01 872 1055

Contact: WhatsApp @ 089 26 74 777

Email: for support & signpost by email for other questions



The MPOWER team of peer sexual health outreach workers offer information, support and resources relating to HIV, STIs and other sexual health & wellbeing needs. The team is available to speak to you by phone, email, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

Phone 01-8733799 and ask for the MPOWER Team (Mon-Fri 10am – 5pm)

Whatsapp on 086 065 7212 (Davy), 0866002996 (Mark), 0892291869 (Diego)




Sexual Health Centre Cork

Sexual Health Centre Cork offer the services of a dedicated Sexual Health Advisor to members of LGBTQIA+ community. Konrad Im provides sexual health advice and support in an understanding and warm environment, on a wide range of matters such as healthy relationships, sexuality, sexual dysfunction, gender and sexual identity.

You can make an appointment by sending an email to, calling the Sexual Health Centre on 021 427 5837 or contacting Konrad directly at



Visit the National Directory of Drugs and Alcohol Services and find a local service to help you


Drugs helpline: Freefone 1800 459 459


Further information & services at

or from the drugs helpline: Freefone 1800 459 459