The Difference Between Meth and Cocaine

The Difference Between Meth and Cocaine

Cocaine and methamphetamine are both stimulants in light of the way they affect your body. They’re both capable of giving you intense feelings of euphoria and exhilaration as well as increasing your talkativeness and alertness. They even have a similar host of dangerous side effects the more you use them, such that prolonged usage or outright abuse can lead to addiction that quickly ruins your mind and body.

Knowing how insidious these drugs are can perhaps help prevent you from using them before it’s too late. The highs they provide aren’t worth the trouble they cause. Regardless, while there are differences between the two substances, the main difference between cocaine and meth is that meth is more neurologically irreversible and devastating. Indeed, cocaine is a little less dangerous compared to meth. Let’s discuss in detail the differences between meth and cocaine.

A Strong Link between Substance Abuse and Stress


Once used in soda like the earliest version of the Coca-Cola “health tonic” and as a toothache pain-reliever for kids, cocaine eventually became an illicit drug known as the “Caviar of Street Drugs”. This is because cocaine is known for its expensiveness per pound and being abused by many people from Wall Street to Hollywood celebrities as well as fashion models. At present, it’s classified as a Schedule II drug. This means it’s a drug that individuals can end up abusing, even though doctors can prescribe it for certain medical uses including as a local anesthetic for certain surgeries.

Cocaine in the streets is available as a whitish, fine powder with crystal grains. It’s also known by the names of “coke” (like the soda), “flake”, “blow”, and “snow”. There are even drug users who’ve combined coke with heroin in order to create the super stimulant named “speedball”. There are actually two cocaine types that people tend to use and abuse. There are the water-soluble and the water-insoluble varieties.

  • Water-Soluble Cocaine: The water-soluble cocaine comes in the form of hydrochloride salt or crystalline. The powdered, hydrochloride salt variety is usually snorted in lines on glass. It can also be injected into your bloodstream since it can be turned into a solution.
  • Water-Insoluble Cocaine: The water-insoluble cocaine is also known as freebase cocaine. This cocaine type is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate before it’s altogether heated in order to remove its hydrochloride content. This form is the smokable kind of coke that released a cracking sound when it’s smoked, thus it being known by a third name on the streets, “crack” or “crack cocaine”.

How Is Cocaine Abused?

There are multiple methods used to consume cocaine. These include the following:

  • Oral
  • Intranasal
  • Inhalation
  • Intravenous

You may do intranasal administration of cocaine, which involves snorting or inhaling it through your nostrils as well as rubbing the powder into your mucous tissues. It’s also possible for you to do intravenous administration of cocaine, which involves injecting the substance directly into your bloodstream. A cocaine injection increases the drug’s effectiveness on your mind and body. You can also smoke cocaine and get the same benefits as that of an injection since you also absorb the drug into your bloodstream through this method of usage.

How Does Cocaine Affect The Brain?


According to the University of Colorado Boulder research team, coke works by heightening your brain’s dopamine levels. Dopamine is the chemical produced by the brain that’s responsible for making you feel pleasure. It’s part of the reward pathway of your brain. When it’s released, it encourages you to repeat behaviors that triggered its release in the first place, like feelings of accomplishment, having sex, or eating.

In turn, because cocaine in and of itself triggers the release of dopamine, the brain in response interprets it as a behavior that should be repeated. What’s more, the drug also keeps your brain from reabsorbing the dopamine as well, allowing it to build up and boosting its effects in getting you excited. The Colorado research team also discovered that cocaine makes glial cells that induce inflammation, allowing more dopamine to get pumped into your brain as well. Due to this dopamine flood, you will then feel a euphoric or “high” feeling from taking the coke.

What Are Cocaine’s Side Effects?

A cocaine user can expect to get the following side effects from cocaine usage.

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness

A person you know might be using cocaine if they display the following telltale signs of cocaine usage.

  • Dilated pupils
  • Cheerful or excited speech
  • High energy levels and are more active

What Are Cocaine’s Withdrawal Symptoms?

When you’re physically dependent on coke, you may experience withdrawal symptoms once you quit the drug cold turkey. These symptoms might subside but your cravings for the drug can return regardless, increasing your relapse risk. The withdrawal symptoms of cocaine aren’t only psychological. They’re also physical or physiological. They include the following:

  • Feeling fatigued
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Having depression and anxiety
  • Wanting more of cocaine (cravings)
  • Experiencing lack of the feeling of pleasure
  • Experiencing pain, tremors, chills, and aches

What Is Meth?

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Methamphetamine, also known as meth, crystal meth, glass or ice, speed, chalk, crack (not to be confused with crack cocaine), or even biker’s coffee, is a drug that used to be connected to high-profile people like the one percent, celebrities, politicians, actors and actresses, music superstars, and supermodels. The speed variant of meth in particular is known to be linked to low economic class people. Speaking of which, there are three types of meth, and they include the following:

  • Crystal Meth: Crystalline methamphetamine or D-methamphetamine is a crystal-like and highly purified type of meth that undergoes a special refinement process to remove impurities and make it as potent as possible, leaving you extremely talkative as your pupils dilate. It comes in powdered form with varying levels of purity compared to ice or glass meth.
  • Glass or Ice: This is the rock hard and crystal clear version of meth that’s usually confused with crystal meth because of its appearance and its strong potency. It’s the really good kind of meth that differs from crystal meth because it has a different chemical composition. This is 90 to 100 percent pure meth in crystal form that looks like rock salt.
  • Speed: Speed is the type of meth that most drug users buy on the street. It’s the cheaper variety of meth characterized by its poorly cut, greasy, and powdery properties. Do-it-yourself meth laboratories usually make it across the country by people who wish to make a quick buck with the drug. Sometimes, speed is so impure it contains only 1 percent of meth.

Compared to cocaine, crystal meth is a manmade substance. It’s specifically derived from a variety of ingredients that include kitty litter, ammonia, lye, acetone, gasoline additives, muriatic or hydrochloric acid, battery acid, gun cleaners, cold and allergy medications that are available over-the-counter, and drain cleaners to name a few.

Meth comes in the form of a bitter, white powder. You can also get it in pill form. Glass or ice looks like glass fragments, hence the name. It can also appear like white or bluish rocks. Methamphetamine and amphetamine have a similar chemical composition, the latter of which is used to treat the following disorders:

  • Narcolepsy
  • Sleep disorder
  • Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD

How Does Meth Affect the Brain?

Meth, like coke, increases your brain’s dopamine levels. It’s rapid in bringing about higher dopamine levels in your brain, in order to bring about a flash or rush of euphoria inside you. Abusing meth doesn’t create physical dependency, curiously enough. However, the psychological addiction you have to endure when you’re hooked on meth is one of the worst and most vicious out there.

The intense and quick euphoria that you feel when taking meth can lead to changes in your brain chemistry that can give you a crippling mental dependency on the illicit drug. When you’re high on meth, you will tend to exhibit the following signs or symptoms.

  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Euphoria
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • Severe dental problems
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Aggressive and violent behavior

How Is Meth Abused?

You can take meth by the following methods. They’re quite similar to coke, actually.

  • Oral
  • Intranasal
  • Inhalation
  • Intravenous

In other words, you can take meth by swallowing it in pill form, inhaling or snorting its powder form, or injecting it as a solution. Yes, you need to first dissolve the meth powder in water before you can inject it in your system. There are also times when users dissolve meth in alcohol in order to make their resulting high even faster and more intense. One downside to the high produced by meth is that it comes in a flash and fades just as quickly. Therefore, you might use the drug in a “binge and crash” pattern to make the most out of your meth investment.

What are the Side Effects of Meth?

Those who take meth tend to experience the following side effects:

  • Faster breathing
  • Reduced appetite
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased body temperature
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Wakefulness and increased physical activity

Long-term use and abuse of meth can also cause severe dental problems and extreme weight loss. You might also experience the most intense of itches that can result in skin sores. It’s caused by how intense your blood circulation gets to the point that it feels like you have “bugs” under your skin.

It’s also common for long-term meth abusers to suffer from the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Violent behavior
  • Sleeping problems

Withdrawal Symptoms of Meth

If you’re psychologically addicted to meth, you can end up with the following withdrawal symptoms if you were to suddenly stop its use.

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Intense drug craving

Comparing Cocaine and Meth

How does meth compare to cocaine and vice-versa? Meth and cocaine are among the most popularly cited examples of dangerous illicit drugs in the U.S.A. and the world. These stimulants are among the most often abused ones. They’re also known to act on the brain and body of the user in significantly pleasurable and life-changing ways. Even though both drugs impact your brain’s dopamine levels, it’s at times difficult to say how they’re different from one another.

Then again, even though they offer many of the same physiological and behavioral effects, these drugs differ significantly in how they affect the brain. Meth can be considered the more powerful version of cocaine in a certain point of view because of the way it creates stronger, longer-lasting effects to the brain compared to coke. This is because a large percentage of meth remains active and intact in your body longer compared to cocaine, which is actually metabolized completely in your body instead.

  • Slower Metabolizing of Meth: Because methamphetamine takes much longer to metabolize than cocaine, it’s present in your brain longer than its more expensive counterpart. You’re really getting more bang for your buck with meth because of its prolonged stimulating effects. Naturally, because meth stays in your body for a longer period of time, you’re likelier to get addicted to it, the adverse effects it offers are much more intense, and you’re more at risk to develop outright psychosis and similar conditions compared to cocaine usage.
  • Three Times More Dopamine Release: Meth truly is the more impactful version of cocaine in light of the fact that it causes three times more dopamine release than cocaine. It also has a half-life of 12 hours compared to the hour of half-life cocaine has. You should also consider your dosage methods. If you were to smoke meth, this should produce a high that lasts for 8 to 24 hours. In comparison, cocaine only produces a high that lasts for 20-30 minutes, which can leave one gypped in light of how expensive coke is.
  • Affects Different Nerve Mechanisms: According to animal studies, the levels of dopamine boosted by meth are higher than those of cocaine even though both drugs are capable of dopamine increases. This is because meth lasts longer in your system than cocaine, remaining active all the while. It also affects different mechanisms that occur within nerve cells. For instance, cocaine prolongs dopamine activity in your brain by blocking dopamine reuptake. Meanwhile, meth doesn’t only do that but also increases dopamine release for good measure. This results in richer and higher dopamine concentrations within your synapses for much longer periods of time.
  • Limited Medical Use of Cocaine and Meth: Cocaine is a drug that possesses both the properties of an anesthetic and stimulant. Therefore, it can be used for local anesthesia and certain surgical procedures. Meanwhile, as mentioned earlier, meth has a similar chemical composition as amphetamines. Therefore, you can use it for treatment of narcolepsy and ADHD. However, its medical use is extremely restricted and it’s usually recommended for patients to instead use the safer and less restricted amphetamine equivalents.
  • Rich Man’s Drug and Poor Man’s Drug: Cocaine, “The Caviar of Street Drugs”, is linked more to wealth. In popular culture, you have executives, celebrities, sports stars, and models using coke instead of meth. On the other hand, meth is known as the “Poor Man’s Cocaine” or “Biker’s Coffee”. It’s instead the drug of choice for economically depressed areas because its speed variant can be made with ingredients like cater litter, acetone, gasoline additives, drain cleaner, lye, ammonia, battery acid, and OTC cold and allergy medications.
  • Cocaine and Meth Addiction Statistics: Back in 2014, 1.5 million adults in the United States were coke-dependent. In contrast, 570,000 Americans were known meth users in the same year. It was also in 2014 that 6,000 cocaine overdose death happened. Close behind, meth caused approximately 4,000 overdose deaths. Even though these numbers aren’t as alarming as opioid statistics, they’re still highly troubling, especially in light of the millions to half a million people currently under the purgatory of coke-induced or meth-induced stimulant addiction.

In a Nutshell

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Before anything else, it’s important to remember that coke or meth addiction can be treated. Sure, it can cost huge dollar amounts when all is said and done plus the whole ordeal has been known to cripple the lives of not only the addicts but also their families and friends. However, don’t lose hope. It’s a difficult but not insurmountable predicament. This is especially true if you avail of the affordable services of Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Through medical or rehab tourism, you can get inpatient rehab services for significantly lower than stateside treatment, even when you factor in travel costs.

At any rate, methamphetamine and cocaine are both stimulants. However, they’re merely similar to one another by being the same type of drug and ultimately differ in many other aspects even though they belong in the same drug category. It’s like how in a family, the siblings differ from one another even though they’re identical twins or they’re the children of the same mother and father. It’s important to understand how meth and cocaine work, including their long-term effects and inherent dangers, in order to prevent overdose deaths or addiction from these drugs. Although they’re both devastating to your body in similar ways, you can say that cocaine is relatively much safer to use than meth.

Lanna Rehab Can Help You Deal with Cocaine and/or Meth Addiction

Cocaine and meth addictions are among the toughest types of addiction to overcome. Not only are these drugs highly addictive in and of themselves. They’re also quite impactful to your brain, such that even after you’ve kicked the habit their impact will remain with your mind for the rest of your life. With that said, Lanna Rehab is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to a fully secluded method towards recovering from the ravages of the caviar of street drugs and biker’s coffee. The service also includes mental exercises and counseling that will give you the tools you need to better deal with life’s challenges without resorting to drug use to cope with them.

Regardless of the similarities or differences of coke and meth, they’re both highly addictive substances that you should avoid like the plague. If you want to know more about Lanna Addiction Rehab in Chiang Mai, Thailand, then call their 24/7 hotline right now for booking information, travel packages, and price quotes.

Martin Peters has a BA (Hons) Dip HE Dip RN CSAT III and is the Group Program Director Lanna Healthcare. He is a Registered Nurse and Certified Substance Abuse Therapist working in the mental health field since 1994; Martin has had a wide range of experience in management and supervisory roles within established healthcare systems, and has provided consultancy services to a number of private and public sector organizations in the UK and Asia in terms of management, policy writing, accreditation and recruitment. Martin’s addictions experience has been in developing inpatient services in Thailand since 2009, both clinical and operational. He has been instrumental in expanding and developing a non 12 step inpatient treatment centre and opening a further inpatient centre with a 12 step approach, implementing KIPU Electronic Records, strengthening hospital partnerships, introducing a Scholarship for students under the Masters in Addiction Studies Program at The ASEAN Institute for Health Development and working with an international accreditation body. Martin has also been a speaker at several international conferences on addiction, including ASEAN conferences and has also guest lectured at Mahidol University (Thailand), University of Sarghoda (Pakistan) Institute of Medical Sciences (Pakistan) and has been a representative on the CARF Standards Advisory Committee for 2016.In 2015. Martin became a Co-Founder of Lanna Healthcare, launching Lanna Rehab in March 2016 and opening Jintra in January 2018. In June of 2018, Martin was involved in the merger of Lanna and DARA, becoming Thailand's biggest private licensed operator. Martin is currently a Joint and Asia Health Co Ltd Owner Operator of Lanna Healthcare Co Ltd, which under its umbrella manages Lanna Rehab in Chiang Mai, Jintra Rehab in Chiang Mai and DARA Rehab in Koh Chang - all Thailand MoPH Licensed Addiction Facilities providing world-class treatment in Thailand.

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