How Is Cocaine Used? (Route Of Administration)

People who use cocaine can ingest the substance by snorting it, rubbing it on their gums, smoking, and more. No matter the method of use, cocaine is highly addictive and comes with a host of side effects.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Cocaine is most commonly snorted, as pure cocaine is a substance that takes the form of a white powder.

However, other methods of cocaine administration exist, all carrying with them different long-term and short-term effects on the body and brain.

Other methods of cocaine ingestion include:

  • smoking crack cocaine or freebase coke
  • injection by intravenous methods
  • snorting pure cocaine
  • rubbing coke on the gums

How Cocaine Is Used

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that provides euphoric effects by releasing dopamine in the brain. It is highly addictive, making it one of the most common drugs for substance abuse.

It is also used medically and has a history of being used as a local anesthetic for some medical procedures, such as throat passage or nasal surgeries.

Persons acclimated to cocaine drug use have discovered a number of ways to ingest the substance, ranging from inhaling and smoking to ‘boofing’ and ‘rubbing.’

Snorting Cocaine

Snorting cocaine is the most common method of cocaine use, as it is the simplest method so far discovered.

It is commonly considered ‘safer’ by people who use cocaine, but it should be noted that no method of cocaine is truly safe.

Inhaling cocaine powder in its freebase form through the nasal passages comes with its own dangerous side effects.

Some of the side effects of intranasal cocaine use include:

  • frequent nosebleeds or runny noses
  • increased risk of cardiovascular health problems
  • increased heart rate, leading to abnormal palpitations

Smoking Cocaine

There are two main variants of cocaine — crack cocaine and coke in its powdered form.

Crystalline or rock-like coke, known colloquially as ‘crack’, is smoked by applying a heating element to a pipe, spoon, or similar paraphernalia and inhaling the melted vapor.

Injecting Cocaine

Injecting cocaine is one of the most dangerous forms of cocaine ingestion, as it is one of the least common methods of taking coke, and for good reason.

To inject cocaine, you have to mix the coca powder with water, which can reactivate some of the cutting agents and solvents which were not ousted during the refinement process.

Due to the nature of the cutting agents and solvents used in cocaine production — such as baking powder, creatine, and detergent — the injected liquid can be extremely acidic.

This acid can tear up the veins, create abscesses, collapse veins, and lead to permanently damaged skin.

Additionally, the risk of developing hepatitis, a disease that affects blood vessels and damages blood tissue, is greatly increased.

Rectal Administration Of Cocaine (“Boofing”)

Rectal administration of cocaine, also called ‘boofing’ or ‘plugging’, is done by injecting a liquid cocaine solution into the rectal cavity.

However, this form of substance use is extremely dangerous and can lead to sudden death due to cocaine overdose.

This behavior is also a clear sign of addiction and dependence, as many ‘plug’ to achieve a faster cocaine high without leaving intravenous scars on the forearms and veinal areas.

Eating And Drinking Cocaine

Cocaine can also be taken by rubbing it alongside the gum line, or by swallowing the powder itself.

People who orally take cocaine are at a higher risk for overdose, seizures, and other cardiovascular issues.

Effects Of Using Cocaine

There are a number of dangerous mental and physical health issues which stem from cocaine use.

Persons who abuse cocaine are at risk for:

  • increased chance of heart attacks
  • spiked blood pressure
  • higher than normal body temperature
  • unexpected weight loss
  • delirium or psychosis
  • inhibited blood flow from intravenously induced vein collapses

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

There are a number of treatment options available to help ease persons addicted to cocaine into sobriety.

Some cocaine treatment options are:

  • inpatient and outpatient treatment
  • medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
  • detox services
  • therapy and counseling
  • residential cocaine treatment options

Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

If you or a loved one are in search of recovery services for an ongoing cocaine addiction, call our helpline today to learn about the intensive treatment programs at Bedrock Recovery Center.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine Drug Facts

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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