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How Is Cocaine Used?


Updated May 27, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

How is Cocaine used
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Question: How Is Cocaine Used?
Answer: Cocaine can been taken by various methods: oral, intranasal, intravenous, and inhalation. Or, as these methods are known on the street, "chewing," "snorting," "mainlining," "injecting," and "smoking."

Except for approved medical use, there is no safe way to use cocaine in any form. All of the following methods of using the drug can lead to absorption of toxic levels of cocaine, possible acute cardiovascular or cerebrovascular emergencies, and seizures, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Any of these can lead to sudden death.

Intranasal Administration is snorting, the process of inhaling powdered cocaine through the nostrils. It can also be rubbed onto the mucous tissues and absorbed in the bloodstream.

Intravenous Use or injecting is when a hypodermic needle is used to inject cocaine directly into the bloodstream, which increases the intensity of its effects.

Smoking cocaine involves inhaling smoke or cocaine vapor into the lungs where its absorption into the bloodstream can be almost as rapid as injection. This produces an almost immediate and euphoric effect which is one of the reason smoking crack cocaine became so widespread in the 1980s.

Back to: Cocaine FAQ


National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Cocaine: Abuse and Addiction." Research Report Series Updated September 2010

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