What is cocaine?

  • Cocaine is a naturally occurring potent stimulant1
  • It can be injected intravenously, snorted, or smoked1
  • One derivative of cocaine is “crack” which is a form of the drug that is not neutralized by acid to form a salt. It is sold as a crystal rock.  It can be heated to form vapors which are then smoked1
  • Cocaine works by decreasing the availability of Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system2

What are the medical consequences of cocaine use?

  • Nausea3
  • Abdominal pain3
  • Neurological effects2
  • Cardiovascular effects
         Cardiac arrhythmias2
         Myocardial infarctions2
         Cardiac arrest3
  • Mental health effects
         Increased feelings of anxiety2
         Increased feelings of aggression2
         Increased risk of psychiatric disorders2
  • Increased risk of HIV and Hepatitis4

What are the medical consequences of cocaine use in pregnancy?

  • Preterm labor4
  • Preterm premature rupture of membranes4
  • Placental abruption4
  • Decreased birth weight and size4, 5
  • Visual problems in the neonate5
  • Delayed language development in neonate5
  • Decreased attention span in child5

  1. Office of National Drug Control Policy.  Street Terms: Drug and Drug Trade.  Retrieved November 15, 2010 from 
  2. Minnes, S. et al. (2012). Cocaine use during pregnancy and health outcomes after 10 years. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 126. 71-79.
  3. Drug Facts: Cocaine.  Retrieved January 15, 2014 from The National Institute on Drug Abuse Web site:
  4. Schempf, A.H. (2009).  Illicit Drug Use and Neonatal Outcomes: a Critical Review [Electronic Version]. Obstetrical and Gynecological Survey, 62:11.  749-757.
  5. Bandstra, E.S (2010). Prenatal Drug Exposure: Infant and Toddler Outcomes [Electronic Version]. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 29, 245-358. 
January, 2014