Let’s Talk About Drugs: Cocaine

We understand that some of our students will choose to use cocaine, despite knowing dangers that go along with it. The Students’ Union at UWE and UWE Bristol hope is that if UWE students do choose to use cocaine, they are given the opportunity to make an informed decision and know how to reduce some of the risks associated with illegal drug taking.

What’s it all about?

Cocaine is classified as a Stimulant on the Drugs Wheel (Increases energy, alertness and heart-rate).

Cocaine is normally snorted, although it can be absorbed through soft tissue like the gums. Some people will choose to inject cocaine, but it is normally turned into crack before being injected.

People use cocaine to increase confidence and feel more alert, especially when drinking alcohol. Because cocaine increases the electrical activity in the brain and alcohol slows it down, people find cocaine can counteract the effects of alcohol and they feel unable to get drunk when using cocaine.
But all the usual risks of drinking alcohol are still there, impaired decision making and judgement, strain on the liver and dehydration – which will result in an hangover combined with a comedown!
Cocaine releases large dumping of dopamine on the receptors, dopamine is associated with rewards. We get hits of dopamine when we have achieved something – and what our brain hears is “whatever you just did, is a good idea... do more of that” to learn more about how cocaine works on the brain and how addiction can form check out Mouse Party.

What are the dangers?

Cocaine + Alcohol are the most common combination used together for the reasons mentioned above, but using this combination poses its own risk - Cocaethylene is produced through this combination, it increases the strain on the major organs, increasing the risk of heart attack!

To learn more about the effects and risks of using cocaine and other drugs check out Drugs + Me

Cocaine is very addictive, some people find after using regularly they feel unable to do a night out, without it, or always end up scoring when they are drunk.
The rise in “Deliveroo -style dealers” has made it even more accessible for people to get cocaine when they weren't planning to do it, this accessibility is fulling cocaine use amongst students.
Just remember, dealers don’t care about your physical or mental wellbeing, they are here to make money.


What can I do to stay safe on the sesh?

Set as in “Mind-set” and setting as in “environment” is something to consider with any drug including alcohol that you are planning to take.
If you're in a bad headspace or you are under a lot of stress this will impact the experience.
Using any substance to escape feeling bad can result in the user not being able to control how much they use, and it doesn’t always work how they intended it to, sometimes it can intensify the feelings they had making things feel worse.

Use in a safe environment with people you trust. Many students consider trying a new drug at a festival, this can be a really challenging environment – loud music, thousands of people and the only safe space being behind a piece of material (a tent) can be really overwhelming and can be a factor in some people having a bad experience on anxiety provoking substances like cocaine.

Start low, go slow.

Starting with a small amount, especially with a new batch, varying quality means you just don’t know how strong the next bag is going to be.


Test before you ingest – just because it looks like cocaine doesn’t mean it is... using a reagent test can tell you if its cocaine or not

Take care of yourself, wash your nose out after a session to prevent further damage, avoid drinking too much or using other drugs at the same time.

If you would like to learn more about reducing the risks when taking drugs or would like support to make changes to your drug use you can book at an appointment with UWE’s Drug & Alcohol Practitioner by calling the Wellbeing Service and asking for a drug & alcohol appointment.