What is cocaine?
Cocaine or coke is a drug made from coca plants. It is a stimulant that comes in a flaky, white and odourless powder and is usually snorted in small amounts (in a line or a bump) through a straw or a rolled up bank-note. You can also spread it on your gums (less common), heat and inhale it or inject it intravenously in its soluble form. Cocaine can easily be found on the London gay scene but in recent years its quality has decreased as it is often mixed with other substances. Taking a few lines of coke will often make you feel wide-awake, chatty and confident. It’s also known to make users horny but it’s harder to sustain a hard-on when high on it.

How does cocaine affect my health?
Having a line from time to time is not a big deal and many gay men in London use it. Some people take it further and use coke on a regular basis which leads them to become psychologically addicted. If you get yourself high on coke, you could end up making poor choices around your sexual health, as it’s a drug that makes you feel all-powerful and so you may think that a condom is not necessary. Coke acts as an anaesthetic and some gay men put it up their bums, which makes them able to get fucked for longer. If you are not using condoms and enough lube, this can increase the chance of spreading or catching HIV and Hep C.

Regular cocaine use can also lead to anxiety, paranoia, depression and insomnia, especially in the comedown period a day or two after using it. Snorting cocaine too frequently can also damage your nasal cavity.

Can I mix cocaine with alcohol and other drugs?
Many gay men mix coke with alcohol regularly with little side effects but, because cocaine counteracts the effect of alcohol, it makes you think that you can drink more. Mixing too many drugs together also adds extra strain to your heart and brain which could potentially be dangerous.

Is cocaine illegal?
Yes, cocaine is a Class A drug and if caught with it on your person, you may be prosecuted.

What else is cocaine known as?
Some of the most common names for cocaine around the scene are Charlie, coke, snow, white, nose candy, blow and sniff.

What do I need to know if I am planning to take cocaine?
Taking coke on an occasional basis is not exceptionally dangerous. The problem comes if you start using it too often. If you are going to take it, keep track of how much you take, start with a smaller line at longer intervals and perhaps ask a friend to keep an eye on you. If you are using a straw or a banknote, don't share it but use your own one every time you snort. This will reduce your risk of catching Hep C if there is infected blood residue on the utensil you use to snort. If you are planning to inject it, make sure you don’t share needles to avoid transmission of HIV and Hep C. Drink plenty of water and try not to stay up for too long as your body needs time to recover.