In Switzerland, cocaine is used in a variety of social settings: to enhance performance at work, to get the most out of parties or in combination with other substances. It makes you more communicative, more daring and has a stimulating effect. What makes it dangerous is its high risk for dependence, the strain it puts on the cardiovascular system, the nerve damage it causes and the adulterants that are inevitably consumed as well.
First the euphoria, then the crash. The comedown from cocaine can be particularly harsh: withdrawal symptoms such as exhaustion, fatigue, general moodiness, even depression, loss of libido or a strong desire to sleep take over. To escape these symptoms, many resort to taking more cocaine, creating a vicious circle.
Professional help is advisable if you are finding it difficult to control or curb your cocaine use. We will help you develop new behaviour patterns in order to change or give up your old consumption habits.
This is how we support you:
- addiction treatment: information, assessment and advice, support controlling or reducing consumption, outpatient detox, aftercare and relapse prevention
- psychiatry and psychotherapy: mental health assessment and psychiatric treatment
- GP services: general internal medicine, infectiology
- social care: support in everyday life, e.g. dealing with problems in the social environment, at work, at school or in an apprenticeship, with finances or with the authorities and landlords
- outpatient/legal measures to reinstate a driving licence or to comply with a court order
Would you like to get in touch or do you have any questions regarding treatment? We are there for you, with straightforward and confidential help.
Frequently asked questions
Depending on how the substances are taken, how much is taken and how potent they are, the effects vary. The physical and mental condition of the person who uses it also plays an important role. It is therefore not possible to determine a threshold, up to which consumption is harmless.
Professional help is advisable, if you are finding it difficult to control or curb your consumption. The 6 question risk test may help you assess your consumption.
The risks to harm your cardiovascular system and your nerves are significant. If you are hypersensitive, a very small dose of cocaine can cause a so-called cocaine shock, which can lead to a circulatory collapse.
High potential for dependence
Cocaine has a highly stimulating effect. But the short rush of euphoria is often followed by fatigue, insomnia, listlessness or low moods and irritability. To counteract this, it is tempting to take another dose of cocaine – which starts a vicious circle. How quickly dependence develops depends, among other factors, on the way cocaine is consumed. The danger is higher if it is injected or smoked. The effect is more immediate than when snorted, but decreases more quickly, too, which can lead to sudden mood drops and anxiety attacks. The craving for another dose is even stronger.
Any psychoactive substance purchased on the black market is potentially contaminated with poisonous substances. Adulterated cocaine can have an immediate or long-term effect on your health. Adulterants found in cocaine are amphetamines, de-worming agents used by vets for livestock or local anaesthetics.
Dosage carries its own risks. Because purity is unknown without lab testing, an overdose can happen – with potentially fatal consequences. Overdose is the most common cause of death among people who use cocaine.
If injection equipment is being shared among consumers, the risk of infection with HIV or hepatitis is particularly high. But snorting is not without risks either. If a rolled up banknote is shared, it can carry traces of blood from damaged nasal mucous membranes.
Regular cocaine use can have serious medium and long term effects on your mental health, your body and your social life:
- diminished immune response and susceptibility to infections
- weight loss and malnutrition
- damage to eyes and liver
- effects on the brain: diminished intelligence, concentration problems or impaired memory skills and learning ability
- damaged nasal mucous membranes, even perforation of the nasal septum
- damaged lung and intestinal tissue, depending on how cocaine is taken
- changes in personality
- restlessness, irritability, violence and aggressive behaviour as well as irrational fears and confusion
- cocaine psychosis, where hallucinations and delusions develop