Is Cocaine a Depressant or a Stimulant?

Is Cocaine a Depressant or a Stimulant

Experts categorize drugs based on their effects on our bodies. The two main categories of substances are stimulant drugs and depressants. Knowing what kind of substance a drug is can help you determine how it will affect you.

Depressant drugs decrease activity in your central nervous system. This causes you to experience drowsiness, sedation, and decreased breathing rates. Examples of depressants include opioids like heroin.

On the other hand, stimulant drugs increase activity in your central nervous system. You might experience an increasing heart rate, heightened energy, and even anxiety. Examples of stimulant drugs include meth and Adderall.

Another type of stimulant drug is cocaine. Cocaine causes symptoms like a rush of euphoria, increased energy, and heightened self-esteem. People who abuse cocaine might deal with anxiety and paranoia.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 5 million people abused cocaine in 2021. Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that leads to physical dependence. If you or a loved one suffers from cocaine addiction, PAX Memphis can connect you with a substance abuse treatment program.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a drug that derives from the coca plant found in South America. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), cocaine is a Schedule II drug. It is addictive but has accepted medical uses.

Doctors use cocaine as a topical anesthetic because it has numbing properties. However, most people who abuse cocaine buy it off of the street. This means they are buying a substance that the FDA does not regulate.

Cocaine may cause symptoms like heightened body temperature, drug addiction, and an increased risk of overdose. If you use cocaine regularly and stop consuming it suddenly, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. You should always seek cocaine addiction treatment to achieve recovery.

Effects of Cocaine Use

Most people who abuse cocaine snort it in powder form. However, some individuals cook cocaine into a rock-like substance known as crack. People usually smoke crack instead of snorting it.

The symptoms of cocaine abuse include:

  • A rush of euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Chattiness
  • Mental alertness
  • Sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Decreased need for food and sleep
  • Large pupils
  • Increased body temperature
  • Fast heart rate and increased blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Vertigo
  • Muscle twitching

The effects of cocaine last 15 to 30 minutes. Because of this, people may binge on the substance to stay higher longer. This can lead to adverse effects like paranoia, psychosis, and even overdose.

If you abuse cocaine, you should seek professional medical advice. Cocaine addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome without a drug rehab program.

What are Depressant Drugs?

Depressant drugs decrease activity in your brain and body. For example, they can cause slowed breathing, decreased heart rate, and lessened energy. Doctors might use certain depressant drugs to treat medical conditions, like opioids for pain.

Examples of depressant drugs include:

  • Benzos like Xanax or Klonopin
  • Opioids like heroin and morphine
  • Sleep medications like Lunesta or Ambien

Even prescription depressant drugs can be addictive. This is because depressants affect the reward and pleasure system. Repeated use of them might cause your brain to believe depressants are necessary for happiness.

What are Stimulant Drugs?

Stimulant drugs increase activity in your brain and body. This means they have the opposite effect as depressant substances. Symptoms of stimulant drug abuse may include increased heart rate and energy.

Examples of stimulant drugs include:

  • Meth
  • Cocaine
  • Crack cocaine
  • ADHD medications like Adderall or Ritalin
  • Bath salts

Stimulant drugs come in many forms, including pills, powders, and more. Because of this, individuals might smoke, snort, or inject them. Because most stimulants have short-lived effects, many people binge on them.

Binging on stimulants can lead to a life-threatening overdose. You could experience a heart attack or stroke. Due to this, you should always seek professional treatment to prevent an overdose from occurring.

Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

Now that you understand what depressants and stimulants are, let’s talk about cocaine. Cocaine is a stimulant because it increases energy and causes a fast heart rate.

Prescription stimulants like Adderall cause similar effects to cocaine. For example, Adderall increases focus and heightens your energy like cocaine. By looking at the effects of other stimulants, it is clear that cocaine also falls into this category.

Knowing that cocaine is a stimulant will help you understand how the drug affects you. Stimulant abuse can lead to dangerous heart problems and life-threatening overdoses. With that being said, you should avoid using cocaine and seek professional help if you become addicted.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

If you abuse cocaine, it’s important to be aware of the signs of addiction. Knowing what addiction looks like can help you determine whether you need substance abuse treatment. People who are addicted to cocaine tend to prioritize its use over things they used to find important.

The common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  • Using more cocaine than you intended to
  • Experiencing strong urges to use cocaine
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Isolating yourself from friends and loved ones
  • Continuing to use cocaine despite facing social issues
  • Using cocaine even though it is causing physical or mental health problems
  • Having a hard time completing responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Getting into risky situations while abusing cocaine, such as driving under the influence
  • Needing to increase your dose of cocaine to experience the desired effect
  • Dealing with withdrawal symptoms when you stop using cocaine

Cocaine addiction causes physical dependency. If you suddenly stop using it, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include agitation, fatigue, and discomfort.

If you suffer from cocaine addiction, drug rehab is your best option. Addiction experts will offer you the tools and support you need to achieve long-term sobriety.

Find Help for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

If you or a loved one abuse cocaine, it’s time to seek help. Drug addiction treatment centers will offer the tools and support you need to recover. For example, they offer therapy, counseling, detox, and relapse prevention services.

At PAX Memphis, we can connect you with a reputable drug rehab program. We have working relationships with some of the best treatment centers in Tennessee. Our experts can match you with a program that suits your individual needs.

Having a substance abuse problem doesn’t make you a bad person. Drug addiction is a disease and we promise to give you the respect and dignity you deserve as a human being. Our doctors and clinical staff will treat you as you should be treated at all times.

Contact us today to learn more about cocaine addiction treatment.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.