Last March, the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Cases of the coronavirus were first identified as early as December of 2019 in Wuhan, China and subsequently spread to nearly all corners of the world.
Since the pandemic began, several coronavirus conspiracy theories have emerged. One theory that emerged on social media in January of 2020 was the claim that the illicit drug, cocaine, could cure the coronavirus. Public health experts immediately debunked this claim.
Cocaine cannot cure or “kill” the coronavirus. If you or someone you know is using or addicted to cocaine, this may signal a need for behavioral health treatment.
Here you can learn more about where the claim came from, why cocaine does not cure the coronavirus, and how to seek treatment for cocaine use disorder.
Where Did This Claim Come From?
According to the non-profit fact-checking website, Politifact, the theory that cocaine could “kill” or “cure” the coronavirus was first aired on Facebook and Twitter in January of 2020.
False breaking news alerts created by social media users such as Brian Jonestown Massacre singer Anton Newcombe declared that blow could cure the highly contagious and life-threatening coronavirus that has since caused the deaths of over 300,000 people in the U.S.
These false alerts prompted statements from government officials and medical experts worldwide. French government officials tweeted out statements rebuking claims that cocaine could cure COVID-19.
Don't wait. Get help now.
Call to be connected with a compassionate treatment specialist.(844) 616-3400
Dr. Luke Kane, a general practitioner based in London, told the news outlet Grazia Daily that the suggestion was not only false but “quite terrifying” due to the serious health risks of cocaine use.
Facebook responded to at least one of the trending breaking news alerts on its platform by flagging it, in line with their efforts to combat false information shared on their platform.
Is There A Cure For The Coronavirus?
Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna have developed vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Approval by the FDA means that these vaccines have been deemed effective for preventing the contraction of COVID-19 and are generally safe for most people, with the possibility for some side effects following vaccination.
Since December of 2020, the United States has received millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses, which have been distributed throughout the country.
There are no other cures for the coronavirus that have been identified or verified by public health experts. Several treatments for symptoms of COVID-19 have been approved by the FDA or recommended for use, including the drug remdesivir (Veklury).
To prevent further spread as vaccines are distributed, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following precautions to prevent coronavirus spread:
- wash your hands often
- wear a face mask to protect yourself and others
- avoid crowds of people
- stay six feet away from others when venturing outside (and inside the home, if there are inhabitants who are sick)
- clean and disinfect surfaces within the home frequently
- cover coughs and sneezes
Additional safety guidelines have been issued for settings outside of the home, including workplace settings, healthcare settings, and long-term care facilities.
Side Effects And Dangers Of Cocaine
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is illegal to sell, purchase, or possess in the United States.
This drug primarily comes in the form of a powder or rock crystal (freebase). Cocaine poses several acute and long-term dangers to physical and mental health.
Side effects after taking cocaine can include:
- rush of energy
- mental alertness
- dilated pupils
- increased body temperature and blood pressure
- fast/irregular heartbeat
- muscle twitches
- hypersensitivity to touch, light, and sound
Cocaine is sometimes mixed with other substances such as heroin, fentanyl, and fillers before being sold on the street. This can increase the risk for overdose and other harmful side effects. Not everyone who buys cocaine is informed of added fillers.
Chronic use of cocaine can lead to increased tolerance, dependence, and addiction. This can make it difficult to stop taking the drug and may lead to symptoms of withdrawal with reduced or stopped use.
Cocaine And Harm Reduction During COVID-19
The use of harm reduction strategies has been widely promoted by organizations such as the National Harm Reduction Coalition and the Transform Drug Policy Foundation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many people struggling with drug abuse before the pandemic have lost access to drug sources, which increases the risk for withdrawal and turning to unreliable drug sources.
Access to quality, affordable treatment has also become more difficult. High rates of unemployment, isolation, grief, and domestic difficulties have exacerbated substance abuse and mental health struggles.
Harm reduction advocates such as the National Harm Reduction Coalition and the Transform Drug Policy Foundation have shared strategies to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19, overdose, and other consequences of drug use.
For those who use cocaine, these guidelines include:
- Avoid sharing spoons, straws, pipes, vapes, and other drug paraphernalia.
- Minimize contact with others to reduce the risk for COVID-19 transmission.
- Eat, drink water, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep to prevent health risks associated with overvamping.
- Keep first aid supplies, such as Vaseline, Eucerine, and wound care supplies around in case of strong desires to pick at or scratch the skin.
- Smoking or injecting drugs may worsen respiratory issues associated with COVID-19. Avoid if possible. This may increase risk for respiratory failure with overdose.
FAQs For Cocaine Use And Coronavirus
❓ Does Cocaine Cure Coronavirus?
✔️ No, cocaine does not cure coronavirus. This myth was widely circulated during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, but reports debunked this theory.
The effects of people believing that cocaine use could cure coronavirus were ultimately harmful.
❓ Am I At A Higher Risk For COVID-19 If I Use Cocaine?
✔️ Research has not yet determined whether people who struggle with cocaine abuse or other forms of drug abuse are at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.
Some health conditions and other illnesses weaken areas of the body that may be greatly affected by COVID-19, including some health effects caused by long-term drug use. An example of this could be the effects on the lungs from snorting cocaine.
❓ I Use Cocaine — How Can I Lower My Risk Of Contracting COVID-19?
✔️ Certain harm reduction practices that can protect you against some harmful side effects of drug use can also protect against infection and contraction of diseases, which may include the coronavirus.
Examples of such practices include always sterilizing the injection site with IV drug use, not sharing heroin needles or other needles, always cleaning drug use equipment, and reducing contact with other people in general.
Find Treatment For Cocaine Abuse And Addiction
Cocaine use can be very dangerous. Because drugs like cocaine aren’t regulated, the safety of this drug cannot be determined.
Furthermore, cocaine can become addictive very quickly and can have severe consequences on physical and mental health.
Millions of people in the United States struggle with drug abuse and addiction. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these struggles and has made it difficult for some to access affordable behavioral healthcare.
If you or someone you know is using cocaine, treatment is available. Call our helpline today to learn more about cocaine and cocaine addiction treatment options.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Politifact — Cocaine not shown to treat novel coronavirus
- World Health Organization (WHO) — WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — How to Protect Yourself and Others
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Treatments Your Healthcare Provider Might Recommend if You Are Sick
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts
- Harm Reduction Coalition — COVID-19 Stimulant Use and Harm Reduction
- Grazia — Why Do People Think Cocaine Kills Coronavirus?
- The Intelligencer — CDC: Drug Overdose Deaths in 2020 on Track to Break Record