Is Cocaine a Stimulant or Depressant?

We will give you the support and guidance you need to get started on the road of long-term recovery.

Get Help with Addiction Treatment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances in the world today. Despite its popularity, many are unaware of the facts surrounding cocaine and cocaine use. With its widespread availability and recreational reputation, this white, powdery substance can completely upturn and ultimately destroy lives. Throughout this article, you will learn how cocaine is classified as a stimulant, why it carries this classification, and just how truly addictive this substance can be.

If you or someone you know has found themselves in the grip of addiction, there is good news. Hope is available. Guardian Recovery understands the impact that addiction has on lives and because of this we have dedicated ourselves to providing the best quality of substance abuse treatment available. Our highly trained addiction and medical professionals are passionate about empowering and educating every client from day one all the way through their long term sobriety journey. Call today and take the first step on the path to freedom.

Start Healing Today!

Choose recovery and take control of your life, it’s the path to a brighter future filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment.

What Is a Stimulant?

Stimulants (1) are substances that speed up or stimulate the body’s systems. They can also be known as “uppers” for this reason. They produce a strong sense of euphoria due to the release of high levels of chemicals in the brain such as dopamine. It is through the production of these chemicals that stimulants and specifically cocaine become highly addictive. Commonly used stimulants include:

  • Caffeine
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate)
  • Adderall (dextroamphetamine-amphetamine)

What Are Depressants?

Depressants (1) are prescription or nonprescription substances that slow down (or “depress”) the body’s central nervous system. These substances interact with the brain to increase activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that inhibits brain activity. Because of this, they are often used to treat anxiety, help with sleep, or reduce stress. Commonly used depressants include:

  • diazepam (Valium)
  • clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • alprazolam (Xanax)
  • zolpidem (Ambien)
  • eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal)

How Cocaine Affects & Interacts With the Brain

One of the most addictive aspects of cocaine is how it interacts with the body’s natural brain chemistry (2). Specifically, it affects how the brain’s reward system communicates with itself. Once these portions of the brain are stimulated, dopamine levels rise to euphoric levels. This produces the high that the person using cocaine seeks. In normal brain function dopamine is released for a short period of time and then reabsorbed into the brain where it can be stored for later use. When stimulants are introduced, not only are the levels of dopamine being released extremely high, but the reabsorption (or reuptake) is limited. This causes an extended high for the user that disrupts the body’s regulatory systems. This means that the user will feel the effects of these brain chemicals for much longer and much more intensely than the body’s intended natural state.

Side Effects of Cocaine & Stimulant Use

The effects of cocaine and other stimulant use can be felt almost immediately (3) depending on the route of administration (smoking, snorting, injecting, etc.). Their euphoric effect is intense but short-lived, often disappearing within 1 hour of use. In the short term, the euphoric effects of the cocaine can be accompanied by unwanted mental and physical side effects that may include:

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Paranoia

Complimentary Insurance Check
Find Out Today!

"*" indicates required fields

Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Long-Term Effects Stimulants & Depressants

Though the short term side effects are often manageable, extended use (4) will cause the person using it to feel the negative side effects at an increased rate along with a multitude of unwanted mental and physical effects. These side effects can include:

  • Worsening of Mental Side Effects — While negative mental side effects during early stages of drug use may be manageable, paranoia, anxiety, and hypersensitivity become increasingly less tolerable over time leading the person to struggle with their mental health often long term.
  • Oral Health Issues — Cocaine causes constriction of the blood vessels causing blood not to flow freely in the body. Over time, as blood does not get to the mouth as needed, various gum diseases, chronic dry mouth, and tooth decay can result.
  • Palatal Perforation — This physical side effect of long term cocaine use occurs when the nasal and sinus passages have been eroded to the point at which holes begin to form. Infections occur frequently with this condition and it is often not able to be reversed without extensive surgery.

Are Stimulants More Addictive Than Depressants?

When assessing the addictive nature of a substance, one aspect to consider is the classification of the drug given by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Every controlled substance is assigned a classification known as a Schedule. These range from Schedule I all the way to Schedule V. These classifications are determined by a multitude of factors with one of them being the addictive nature of a substance.

Based on this determination, cocaine is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that it is one of the most highly addictive substances in the ranking. A common depressant like Xanax is classified as a Schedule IV. This means that it is recognized to have a much lower risk for development of addiction.

Our Locations 

Our Facilities & Teams Transform Lives

Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Is Addiction Treatment & Recovery the Same?

One of the keys to successful drug and alcohol treatment is the understanding that the thought, feeling, and behavior patterns of the person using the illicit substances is what shifts regardless of what the substance is that is being abused. Most treatment methods involve some sort of one-on-one counseling opportunities in conjunction with group processing and education. These components make the transformation to recovery possible. Though it may manifest in different ways depending on the substance being used, the root cause is the treatment participant learning, adapting, and growing into the recovering and free person that they were meant to be.

If you or someone you know finds yourself in a situation where you believe that your life has become unmanageable to the point of needing drug or alcohol treatment, there is hope for you and it is closer than you may think. One call to Guardian Recovery is all it takes. An admissions professional will be able to conduct a free and no obligation insurance check right then to determine the best course of treatment for you. You or your loved one don’t have to fight this battle alone anymore. Call Guardian Recovery today.

SELF-ASSESSMENT:

Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

Get Local Help

Helpful, Recovery
Resources

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Picture of Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

More About Author
Guardian Recovery

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Live a BRIGHTER Future Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

Contact Alumni Services Today!

Guardian Recovery is here to assist you in your journey of healing after coming to one of our facilities.

Your Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Stay in touch ALUMNI

Join our alumni newsletter to get up to date information on events, news, and more.

Name
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Personalize Your Experience

Allow us to guide you to the information your looking for.

Begin HEALING Today

Check Insurance Coverage

Find out today what options are available to you. Fill out the form below.

Do it for YOU, Do it for LOVED ones

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
24/7 Help: (888) 693-1872