Australian Institute of Criminology

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Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca bush. In Australia, cocaine is most commonly available as cocaine hydrochloride, a white powder, although it can found as an alkaloid form for smoking or in the form of small crystals known as "crack".

In its powdered form, cocaine is often "cut" with other substances such as lactose, sucrose and talcum powder to increase volume and reduce purity.

Cocaine is a stimulant, increasing the speed of central nervous system activity. The effects of cocaine are felt almost immediately and can last between minutes or hours. These effects include increased body temperature and heart rate, reduced appetite and heightened levels of energy and alertness. Although cocaine can cause euphoria and increased confidence, it may cause anxiety and panic.

In larger doses or if used repeatedly over hours, cocaine can lead to extreme agitation, panic, paranoia, hallucinations, dizziness, trembling, nausea and heart attack. Concentration and coordination may deteriorate.

Long-term, heavy cocaine users can become restless, over-excitable and paranoid. They may also experience nausea, weight loss and depression. In some cases, psychosis occurs. Snorting cocaine damages the nasal passages.

Cocaine is usually inhaled through the nose. In the alkaloid form it may be injected or smoked.

The possession, use, manufacture and distribution of cocaine is illegal throughout Australia, as is its importation.

In a 2004 survey, one percent of people aged 14 years and over indicated they had used cocaine in the previous 12 months.

Coca leaf is only grown in three countries for commercial distribution. These countries are Bolivia, Columbia and Peru. Therefore there is no local production of cocaine in Australia.

There is evidence to suggest that some Columbians living in Australia are involved in the importation of cocaine. A number of ethnic based crime syndicates and outlaw motorcycle gangs are involved in the distribution of cocaine within Australia.

Cocaine is fairly easily obtained in capital cities with availability declining in other areas.

Street names

Coke, crack, okey dokey, charlie, nose candy, big C, blow, marching powder, snow, white lady, ceci, candi.