Skip to Main Content

elaws - employment laws assistance for workers and small businesses

- Drug-Free Workplace Advisor

Please note: The Department of Labor ended the drug-free workplace program in 2010. Accordingly, it does not currently administer a “Workplace drug testing” advisory web page and is not responsible for the content of the linked sites.


Cocaine is the most potent stimulant of organic origin and the most widely used of the stimulants. Although cocaine has been used in the past as a topical anesthetic, its therapeutic uses have almost been eliminated due to the development of safer anesthetics. Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug leading to physical and psychological dependence.


  • dilated pupils
  • increased pulse rate
  • elevated blood pressure
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • tactile hallucinations
  • paranoia
  • seizures
  • anxiety, agitation
  • periods of increased activity followed by fatigue and depression
  • wide mood swings
  • difficulty in concentration


  • Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system. Its immediate effects include dilated pupils and elevated blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and body temperature. In addition, cocaine use can lead to death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.

  • Cocaine powder is sniffed or snorted. The euphoric high tends to last for approximately 30 minutes. Occasional use can cause a stuffy or runny nose, while chronic use can ulcerate the mucous membrane of the nose. Cocaine powder can also be injected into the bloodstream when it is mixed with water. Using contaminated equipment to inject cocaine, or any other substance, can transmit HIV and cause HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and other diseases.

  • Preparation of freebase, which involves the use of volatile solvents, can result in death or injury from fire or explosion. Inhalation of cocaine fumes from freebasing produces effects that are very fast in onset, very intense and momentary in duration.

  • Crack is cocaine that is processed into tiny chips having the appearance of slivers of soap. Crack has become a very popular form of cocaine, since it is inexpensive and relatively easy to use. It is smoked in a pipe or rolled with tobacco in a cigarette. Cocaine can produce psychological and physical dependency, a feeling that the user cannot function without the drug. Many users become extremely depressed when not using the drug, and the craving for the drug is intense. In addition, tolerance develops rapidly.


  • Employees who fall under Federal guidelines such as the Department of Transportation’s testing regulations are prohibited from using cocaine in any form.

  • The addictive nature and cost can lead to workplace theft and/or dealing.

  • Work performance is erratic with periods of high performance and periods characterized by forgetfulness, absenteeism and missed assignments.

Previous       Next

Return to the Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder Menu

Return to the Drug-Free Workplace Advisor Main Menu