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Cocaine vs. Heroin: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Cocaine is a stimulant drug extracted from coca leaves, while heroin is a depressant derived from morphine.
Cocaine vs. Heroin

Key Differences

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. Heroin is an opioid, a depressant derived from morphine, which is extracted from poppy plants.
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Cocaine works by increasing dopamine levels in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria and increased energy. Heroin works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, causing intense feelings of pleasure and pain relief.
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Cocaine typically comes in a white powder form, which can be snorted, injected, or smoked. Heroin often appears as a white or brown powder or a black, sticky substance known as “black tar heroin,” and it can be injected, smoked, or snorted.
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Cocaine has a short but intense high, often leading to a cycle of binge use to maintain the effect. Heroin produces a longer-lasting high, characterized by a sense of warmth and relaxation, often leading to drowsiness.
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Cocaine use can lead to severe cardiovascular issues, including heart attacks and arrhythmias. Heroin use is often associated with a high risk of overdose and respiratory depression, especially when mixed with other depressants.
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Comparison Chart

Drug Type

Stimulant
Depressant
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Derived From

Coca plant leaves
Morphine, from poppy plants
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Effects on the Brain

Increases dopamine, euphoria
Binds to opioid receptors, pain relief
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Form and Administration

White powder, snorted/injected/smoked
Powder or tar, injected/smoked/snorted
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Common Health Risks

Cardiovascular issues
Overdose, respiratory depression
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Cocaine and Heroin Definitions

Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug from the coca plant.
Cocaine is often associated with quick, intense highs.
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Heroin

Heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain.
Heroin use often results in significant pain relief.
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Cocaine

Cocaine increases dopamine levels for euphoric effects.
Cocaine use can lead to heightened alertness and energy.
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Heroin

Heroin is a depressant derived from morphine.
Heroin is known for its intense euphoric effects.
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Cocaine

Cocaine is often found as a fine, white powder.
Cocaine is commonly snorted but can also be injected.
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Heroin

Heroin use carries a high risk of overdose.
Mixing heroin with other drugs increases overdose risks.
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Cocaine

Cocaine is illegal and highly addictive.
Cocaine addiction can be challenging to overcome.
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Heroin

Heroin is illegal and highly addictive.
Overcoming heroin addiction requires intensive treatment.
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Cocaine

Cocaine use can cause serious cardiovascular issues.
Prolonged cocaine use may lead to heart problems.
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Heroin

Heroin can be a white powder or black tar.
Heroin can be injected, snorted, or smoked.
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Cocaine

A colorless or white crystalline alkaloid, C17H21NO4, extracted from coca leaves, sometimes used in medicine as a local anesthetic especially for the eyes, nose, or throat and widely used as an illicit drug for its euphoric and stimulating effects.
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Heroin

A white, odorless, bitter crystalline compound, C21H23NO5, that is derived from morphine and is a highly addictive illegal narcotic. Also called diacetylmorphine.
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Cocaine

An addictive drug derived from coca (Erythroxylum) or prepared synthetically, used sometimes medicinally as a local anesthetic and, often illegally, as a stimulant.
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Heroin

A powerful and addictive drug derived from opium producing intense euphoria. Classed as an illegal narcotic in most of the world.
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Cocaine

(countable) Any derivative of cocaine.
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Heroin

A morphine derivative, diacetyl morphine, used to relieve severe pain and as a sedative. It is highly addictive, and its use is strictly controlled in the U.S. by federal law. It is a popular strong narcotic drug of abuse, in part because it is more soluble than morphine. It is sometimes included as one of the components of Brompton's mixture, used to control pain in terminallly ill patients.
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Cocaine

A powerful narcotic alkaloid, C17H21NO4, obtained from the leaves of coca. It is a bitter, white, crystalline substance, and is remarkable for producing local insensibility to pain. It is classified as addictive and is not available in the U. S. without a prescription, but is nevertheless one of the most widespread illegal drugs of abuse. It is used in several forms, including small pellets of free base, called crack. Most of the cacaine illegally used in the U.S. is imported.
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Heroin

A narcotic that is considered a hard drug; a highly addictive morphine derivative; intravenous injection provides the fastest and most intense rush
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Cocaine

A narcotic (alkaloid) extracted from coca leaves; used as a surface anesthetic or taken for pleasure; can become powerfully addictive
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

What are the effects of cocaine?

Cocaine causes a short, intense high and increased energy.
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How is cocaine used?

Cocaine is typically snorted, injected, or smoked.
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What is cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from the coca plant.
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What is heroin?

Heroin is a depressant opioid derived from morphine.
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What are the effects of heroin?

Heroin produces a sense of relaxation and pain relief.
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Is cocaine addictive?

Yes, cocaine is highly addictive.
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How is heroin used?

Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted.
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Is heroin addictive?

Yes, heroin is highly addictive.
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Where does cocaine come from?

Cocaine is derived from coca leaves, primarily grown in South America.
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Can cocaine lead to mental health issues?

Yes, cocaine can exacerbate or lead to mental health disorders.
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Is there treatment for heroin addiction?

Yes, heroin addiction treatment includes medication, therapy, and support groups.
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What are the risks of cocaine use?

Cocaine use can lead to heart issues and addiction.
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Can cocaine use affect the brain permanently?

Prolonged cocaine use can result in long-term changes in brain function.
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How does heroin impact the body over time?

Chronic heroin use can lead to numerous health problems, including liver and kidney disease.
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What makes heroin so dangerous?

The risk of overdose and severe addiction makes heroin dangerous.
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Is there treatment for cocaine addiction?

Yes, there are various treatments available for cocaine addiction.
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Can cocaine cause an overdose?

Yes, cocaine can cause overdose, particularly when mixed with other substances.
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What are the risks of heroin use?

Heroin use can lead to overdose, addiction, and respiratory issues.
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Where does heroin come from?

Heroin is made from morphine, extracted from poppy plants.
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What are the long-term effects of heroin use?

Long-term heroin use can lead to physical and psychological dependence and health complications.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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