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Cocaine Glossary


Most Common Cocaine Terminology

Abstinence means refraining from consuming any drugs or alcohol. It is part of recovery for anyone going through rehabilitation treatment. Abstinence-based recovery is the norm amongst providers of rehabilitation programmes.

Although a recovered individual may be able to occasionally consume the substances they were previously addicted to, it is generally recognised as a significant risk and is usually discarded as part of the life the individual led before they proceeded through a rehabilitation programme. For most recovered adults, abstinence for the rest of their lives is accepted as part of the cost involved in the chance to live a better life.

The term stimulant refers to a substance which accelerates the function of the central nervous system, increasing brain activity. Stimulants generally give the user a rush of energy or emotion when used. Common stimulants include cocaine, crack, ecstasy, nicotine, amphetamines and caffeine. 

Stimulants usually have mild to strong physical effect on the body of the user. Examples of this include the raising of heart rate, blood pressure and temperature. Abuse of stimulants and addiction to them is a widespread issue in the United Kingdom and in most countries. In the case of substances like cocaine and crack, overdoses can be fatal and there is associated potential harm through consumption of the stimulant, such as when using needles to inject.

Dopamine is a form of neurotransmitter that is produced by your body. It is naturally created and used by our central nervous system in order to send messages to our nerves. This is why dopamine is often referred to as a chemical messenger.

Dopamine is important in its role in regulating how we feel motivated towards the outcome of an action, such as taking a drug or exercising. Dopamine is spread naturally along pathways in our brain. Having too much or too little dopamine or too much can lead to mental health complications. Mental health issues like schizophrenia and depression involve altered levels of dopamine activity.

Neurotransmitters boost, balance and carry signals that are sent between neurons, which are themselves often referred to as nerve cells. Neurotransmitters operate throughout the body and may target cells in muscles, neurons or glands. We have billions of neurotransmitter molecules in our body and they are vital for maintaining the function of our brains.

All our bodily functions are dependent on neurotransmitters, from breathing and heartbeat to our conscious concentration levels. Neurotransmitters play a role in our emotions and psychological functions and, as a result of this, are factors in the development of addiction to drugs, alcohol and other addictive things or behaviours.

In addiction terms, withdrawal refers to the effects – both mental and physical – experienced by a person when they either stop or reduce their consumption of drugs and alcohol. Some substances, particularly alcohol, have withdrawal symptoms that are extreme and may be fatal.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the person, substance and intensity of use. Some substances may have physical withdrawal symptoms and other psychological ones – or both.

It is vital that you consult a medical professional before attempting withdrawal from any kind of substance you are addicted to. To not do this is to risk your own health and wellbeing.

In psychological and addiction terms, disinhibition refers to a lack of restraint that is created due to a combination of social factors and poor decision making. Examples of disinhibited behaviour include hypersexuality and aggressive outbursts. Disinhibition can be managed with reactive and proactive strategies. Examples of proactive strategies to prevent issues include changing the individual’s environment, teaching a coping skill and creating behavioural support plans which reinforce desirable behaviour.

Disinhibition syndromes can be caused by damage to the frontal and basotemporal cortexes of the brain. Frontal lobe damage can be a result of excessive consumption of alcohol and depressant drugs such as benzodiazepine.

Hyperactivity refers to the neurological disorder known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Individuals with ADHD may turn to substances to help manage their condition, potentially leading to substance dependency and addiction. ADHD is defined by a difficulty in sustaining attention, particularly for long periods of time. Individuals with ADHD also struggle with boredom and impulsive behaviours, the latter of which is a common contributing factor to the development of addiction and substance abuse.

Although studies vary, it has been found that as many as 25% of adults who are in treatment for drug and alcohol abuse also have ADHD.

Inpatient facilities are treatment centres that offer rehabilitation programmes.  These involve patients admitting themselves to the centre, where they live in a strictly controlled environment and according to a rigid daily and weekly schedule. Inpatient facilities are often expensive, but give the advantage of isolating the individual from factors and triggers in normal daily life which may be leading them towards addiction and relapse.

At an inpatient facility, rehabilitation is done according to the schedule and style of the provider of rehabilitation treatment. This typically involves group work, one to one therapy and attention to exercise and nutrition.

Outpatient treatment refers to a program of addiction treatment where the individual attends a treatment centre. This is essentially a part-time equivalent of attending an inpatient facility for the duration of the respective programme. Outpatient treatment is significantly cheaper than inpatient treatment, making it more accessible to the average adult who cannot afford to put their lives on hold to attend an inpatient facility for several weeks.

In modern times, outpatient treatment is increasingly popular. Newer models such as the Dayhab model incorporate modern elements of rehabilitation treatment, improving success rates to match or exceed traditional inpatient options which can exceed £25,000 in cost.

Behavioural therapy refers to a type of treatment therapy that addresses mental health disorders.  In this kind of therapy, attention is given to the self-destructive and damaging behaviours a person may engage in. The core tenet of behavioural therapy is the understanding that behaviours are learned and can, with correct attention and care, be unlearned.

Behavioural therapy is an important element of most rehabilitation programmes, as it helps the individual to understand better what leads to their substance abuse. Using behavioural therapy, an individual may learn to understand their triggers and stressors so that a plan can be created where they are avoided and minimised.

Cocaine is a highly popular stimulant drug. Over 20kg of cocaine are consumed daily in London alone. Cocaine is available in rock and powder forms. When cocaine is powdered, it is referred to in street slang as coke or simply cocaine. In the rock form, it is usually referred to as crack cocaine or just crack.

In its powdered form, cocaine is a hydrochloride salt. Cocaine is highly addictive and can have profoundly negative impacts on mental and physical health.  Cocaine overdoses can be fatal. If you or a loved one is worried about powder cocaine consumption and addiction, please contact Help Me Stop or a medical professional for advice.

Crack cocaine is a hard, off-white substance that appears almost mineral-like. It is created by mixing powder cocaine with ammonia or baking soda. To consume crack cocaine, it is heated with a lighter and then commonly vaporized using a glass pipe. Crack is also often injected directly into the veins using a needle.

The name crack refers to the popping or cracking noise heard when the substance is heated. Crack cocaine is extremely addictive and has a very intense and immediate high, which is short-lived. Crack cocaine makes users feel euphoric and energised. Crack is very potent and overdoses of it can be fatal.

Polydrug use refers to a person who consumes more than one drug at a given time. Polydrug use is done to combine the effects of different drugs together, such as the simultaneous consumption of cocaine and ecstasy. Polydrug use intensifies the effects of individual drugs, making them more dangerous to use. The combination of drugs at the same time can create new and more intensive highs, such as the combination of painkillers and alcohol. The same combination can also cause the user to stop breathing.

Polydrug use is extremely dangerous. Many users die or have extremely negative experiences when combining drugs due to a lack of awareness on the effects of any given combination. Polydrug users are also more liable to fall into cross-addiction due to their combining of substances.

Pharmacological treatment refers to the use of prescribed medication to aid the rehabilitation process and to help addicts to remain sober. The goal of pharmacological treatment is to support a person in their weaning off a substance and to minimise the risk of relapse. Some medications are able to mimic the effects of drugs a person may be addicted to, helping them to minimise and relieve withdrawal symptoms and sensations of craving for the substance.

Pharmacological treatment is sometimes used in withdrawal and detox. Withdrawal symptoms are one of the most challenging aspects of detox and quitting a substance, making controlled pharmacological treatment a practical choice in some situations.

Behavioural intervention refers to a method used in reducing addiction. The goal of behavioural intervention is to improve the ability of the individual in resisting relapse and avoiding substance abuse.

Evidence shows that behavioural interventions can be effective in helping individuals who are struggling with compulsive behaviour and addiction to drugs and alcohol. Behavioural interventions can form an effective part of a more comprehensive rehabilitation treatment programme. Targeted behavioural intervention can help to address specific behaviours an individual may be prone to in an effort to improve their wellbeing and free them from behaviour that leads to addiction and addictive substances or activities.

The term stimulant use disorder refers to a diagnosis that captures a number of different issues associated with the use of stimulant drugs. Examples of stimulant drugs include cocaine, amphetamines and meth. Non-illegal substances like caffeine and nicotine are not usually included in the definition.

Stimulant use disorder symptoms include the taking of more stimulants than intended, being unsuccessful in reducing or eliminating the intake of drugs despite wanting to do so and the failing of obligations in other areas of life such as work, school and family life. There are many more symptoms of stimulant use, many of which coincide with the general definitions of addiction to drugs and alcohol.

A comedown is a phrase that refers to the negative physical, emotional and mental effects felt the day after drinking or doing drugs. Comedowns will vary depending on the substance used, the intensity of use and the physical and mental state of the individual prior to consumption.

An example of a comedown is a hangover from drinking alcohol. Examples of a drug comedown can be the similarly intense and negative physical effects felt after consuming ecstasy or cocaine. Comedowns are often made worse by individuals mixing substances, such as the combination of drugs like ecstasy with alcohol in a party setting.

Cut cocaine refers to the common mixing of cocaine with other substances. This is done to reduce purity and is primarily done to increase the profit margins of the seller. Sometimes, cutting cocaine can be done to alter or intensify the effects of the substance. Cut cocaine can vary in texture and colour, sometimes in a manner that makes it easier for users to snort.

Sometimes, cutting agents can make cut cocaine more dangerous to consume. Cut cocaine use can lead to death due to overdose or poisoning. A key risk of using cut cocaine is it being difficult to tell how strong it is, leading to more risk of overdose which may be fatal.

There are a number of slang terms for cocaine. These can vary from country to country and even region. The following terms are commonly used slang in the UK for cocaine. Street dealers and users may use these phrases instead of referring to the substance directly.

  • coke
  • C
  • flake
  • snow
  • crack
  • blow

Increased tolerance refers to the fact that, with many drugs and with alcohol, more of the substance must be taken after repeated use to obtain the same high as before. Increased tolerance occurs with many substances including cannabis and alcohol. The phenomenon of increased tolerance is dangerous, as it leads a person to consume more of a substance. This can lead to overdosing and increased negative side effects.

The amount of tolerance an individual may experience can be quite extreme, such as an alcoholic being able to consume a significantly higher amount of alcohol than a recreational drinker. Tolerance usually diminishes over time if the user abstains, although this can vary depending on the substance in question.

Overdosing refers to the consumption of too much of a substance in one sitting. Overdosing can produce a variety of negative physical and mental effects, some of which can be fatal depending on the substance used. Examples of fatal overdosing include overconsumption of alcohol, heroin and cocaine. Entering a critical state from the toxic build-up of a substance can cause long-term health effects in addition to the risk of death.

Users may not realise they are overdosing; this is particularly common when consuming street-bought drugs whose potency varies. If you or a loved one believes they may be overdosing it is vital you call 999 immediately to request medical aid. Cocaine overdoses can be fatal.

Freebasing refers to the consumption of cocaine in its solid, base form. Freebasing involves the removal of hydrochloride, producing cocaine in its solid form. Freebasing cocaine produces a particularly intense high. Freebasing cocaine also means it is easier to consume via smoking as it has a lower melting point in that form.

The high from freebasing cocaine can last approximately 30 minutes and involves an intense burst of energy and focus. The comedown from freebasing cocaine is extreme; users may feel symptoms of anxiety, irritability, paranoia, depression and physical fatigue. Freebasing cocaine is very dangerous, particularly as users often ingest several doses in one binge session. This often leads to overdosing, which can be fatal.

If you are struggling with cocaine abuse, Help Me Stop has treatments available. Contact us today to learn how we can help you.