NB! Drugs effects vary according to the psychological state and the health of the person concerned, the context in which the drug is taken as well as the quality of the drug and the quantity consumed.


Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush, a South American shrub. It generally comes in the form of white powder which is sniffed, inhaled or injected.

Cocaine is a psychoactive substance which is:

  • illegal
  • natural
  • a stimulant.

Desired effects

  • Feeling of wellbeing, intense and immediate intellectual stimulation
  • Great assurance, a feeling of power and selfconfidence
  • Insensitivity to hunger and fatigue

Physical symptoms

  • Increase in heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils

Immediate risks

  • Exhaustion, fever, shivering, trembling, nausea, vomiting, breathing disorders
  • Loss of judgement, depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, convulsions, delirium
  • Transmission of infectious diseases in syringe sharing (HIV, hepatitis, etc.)
  • Cardiovascular attacks (heart attack, stroke, infarction)
  • Risk of overdose: loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, coma, death

Longterm risks

  • Psychiatric and neurological complications: panic attacks, anxiety, irritability, sleep disorders, depression, paranoia, psychosis
  • Cardiovascular problems: disturbed heart rhythm, chronic high blood pressure
  • Breathing problems
  • Inflammation, perforation, irritation, destruction of the nasal septum
  • Reduction in sexual performance and libido, loss of appetite, menstrual irregularity
  • Strong psychological dependence: uncontrollable need to take more drugs (“craving”)


Sciensano collects data and analyses the consumption of drugs, the drug market, the consequences for health, requests for treatment and the policies implemented with regard to drugs in Belgium.

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