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Is Cocaine an Effective or Safe Pre-Workout Supplement?

No, it is not safe to use cocaine to enhance workouts. Cocaine use is not an effective or healthy way to improve athletic performance.

While users may feel a boost in energy, cocaine use before working out can result in serious health issues that ultimately hurt athletic performance in the long run. 


What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine (benzoylmethylecgonine) is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that is extracted from the coca plant.

Although most people probably recognize cocaine as a drug of abuse, it also has medicinal uses. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists it as a Schedule II controlled substance, in the same category as drugs like morphine, Ritalin, and methamphetamine. This means the drug is potentially available with a prescription from a physician; however, its medical use is typically limited to clinics and hospitals.

Powder on a scale

Medicinal uses of cocaine are limited these days, and it is primarily a local anesthetic used in nasal or dental surgery. Chronic use of the drug can lead to a significant issue with tolerance, the development of withdrawal symptoms, and the development of a substance use disorder (addiction). Thus, casual use of cocaine should be discouraged under all conditions, including as a workout supplement.


Stimulant Effects of Cocaine

In areas where coca leaves are indigenous, many of the natives chew on these leaves to access the drug’s stimulant effects. In addition to producing euphoria, the drug may produce heightened levels of energy, excitability, increased awareness and concentration, decreased need for sleep, and decreased sensitivity to pain when used in small doses.

When cocaine is used in larger doses, most of the aforementioned cognitive effects are reversed. Individuals will often have problems with concentration. They may be erratic and easily distracted.

Cocaine to Enhance Athletic Performance

Scattered reports on the internet suggest that the use of cocaine as a pre-workout or athletic-enhancing drug does occur, but it is most likely rare.

There are older reports of professional athletes using cocaine as a performance enhancer. One widely known report discussed the use of cocaine by athletes in the Olympics in the early 1900s.

Today, cocaine is officially banned by the majority of sporting organizations. It is not legitimately used as a pre-workout substance by any athletic organization.

Nonetheless, if an individual were able to use a small amount of cocaine before working out, they would experience a boost of energy and increased concentration. However, taking too much cocaine before working out or the habitual use of small amounts of cocaine could have detrimental effects that could be potentially catastrophic.

Potential Issues With Repeated Use 

The major problem with using cocaine as a pre-workout drug, aside from it being illegal to possess without a prescription and that prolonged use can result in the development of an addictive disorder, is that the drug has significant detrimental effects on the cardiovascular system.

A 2004 research study looking at the effects of small doses of cocaine compared to small doses of caffeine (also used as a pre-workout enhancer) in dogs dictated that cocaine produced significantly higher issues with increased heart rate and blood pressure. 

Cocaine also lowered the elasticity of the heart muscle compared to equivalent amounts of caffeine.

Long-Term Cocaine Use

Chronic use of cocaine is also associated with an increased risk of:

  • Lasting issues with hypertension, heartbeat irregularities, and increased potential for heart attack or stroke
  • Increased potential to develop blood clots
  • Problems with sleep
  • Significantly decreased appetite
  • Movement disorders that can include tremors
  • Psychosis and obsessions
  • A weakened immune system and increased susceptibility to many different diseases
  • Cognitive and emotional issues that can include psychotic behaviors

Research has found that even the mild use of cocaine is associated with an increased risk for heart disease and heart attack even after stopping use of the drug and maintaining years of abstinence. 

While caffeine, in small amounts, is often used by professional athletes as a performance enhancer, there is no professional or amateur sports organization that would promote the use of cocaine as a pre-workout performance enhancer or as an athletic performance enhancer.

Cocaine for Weight Loss?

Some studies suggest that chronic users of cocaine may have lower percentages of body fat than people in the general population; however, there is also sufficient research to suggest that when chronic users stop using cocaine, they are subject to weight gain.

During withdrawal from stimulants like cocaine, an increase in appetite and weight gain are common. When people use cocaine, they often experience decreased appetite; when they stop using it, they often binge on food. 

No legitimate professional organization would recommend using cocaine as a weight loss supplement.

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The Bottom Line

The risks of using cocaine recreationally or in any casual manner far outweigh any benefits that may occur. In tiny amounts, cocaine may provide a bit of extra energy that can help a person get through a grueling workout; however, many other pre-workout products would produce the same benefits.

Because the potential costs of using cocaine are so great, even when it is used in small amounts, any use of it as a performance enhancer is strongly discouraged.

SOURCES

(June 2018). Bioavailability and Pharmacokinetics of Oral Cocaine in Humans. Journal of Analytical Toxicology. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29462364

(N.D.) Drug Scheduling. Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling

(September 2000). Drugs in sport. ESPN. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.espn.com/special/s/drugsandsports/coca.html

(August 2014).  (2014). Drug Abuse in Athletes. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4140700/

(August 2013). Cocaine May Affect the Way the Body Stores Fat. NHS. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.nhs.uk/news/lifestyle-and-exercise/cocaine-may-affect-the-way-the-body-stores-fat/

(November (2004). Effects of cocaine and caffeine alone and in combination on cardiovascular performance: an experimental hemodynamic and coronary flow reserve study in a canine model. International Journal of Cardiology. Retrieved March 2019 from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167527303006211

(April 2014). Regular cocaine use is associated with increased systolic blood pressure, aortic stiffness and left ventricular mass in young otherwise healthy individuals. PloS One. Retrieved March 2019 from https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0089710

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