Is Cocaine Considered a Narcotic?

Is Cocaine Considered a Narcotic?

Legally, cocaine is considered a narcotic in the United States. Medically, cocaine is not considered a narcotic. Learn more about the differences and how cocaine came to be classified as a narcotic drug.

Medical Narcotic

A medical narcotic causes pain relief starting in the brain. How the brain perceives pain can be impacted by opioid pain relievers (narcotics) which bind to receptors in the brain to block feelings of pain. In most cases, a narcotic medicine should not be used for more than 3 to 4 months.

Legal Narcotic

Narcotics, in legal terms consist of the following:

  • Drugs which dull the senses
  • Popular generic term for drugs which cannot be possessed legally or transported except for medicinal uses (with physician or dentist prescription required).

Cocaine is listed as a legal narcotic under ‘controlled substance’ A ‘Schedule II’ drug under the Controlled Substances Act, cocaine has a high potential for abuse with limited medical usage. Schedule II drugs can lead to potentially severe psychological or physical dependence or addiction. Drugs in this category are considered dangerous and dealing the drugs in Schedule II can result in a felony charge under both state and federal laws.

Addictive Properties

Several properties exist in cocaine which lend to high addiction potential. Cocaine has many ways of being ingested, inhaled or administered into the body. The more rapid the onset of effects of cocaine, the higher the addictive potential (smoking or injection). Cocaine has a short half-life and is broken down in the body rapidly. Drugs with a fast rapid onset and individuals with a fast metabolism will get high quickly and may experience higher rates of addiction and abuse of cocaine.


Some discussion has continued about whether to change the classification of cocaine. Some of the pros and cons demonstrate why this should or should not occur:
Pros: cocaine has a long history of medical use largely ignored by the scientific community. A powerful stimulant, cocaine has been used to treat mental health disorders which leads some to argue for legalization of medicinal cocaine.

Cons: cocaine can be uncontrollable which may devastate a person’s life socially, economically and in other ways. Users of cocaine and crack cocaine can suffer from a variety of health problems. Drug users are six times more likely to suffer a stroke from using drugs which may result in lifetime disability or death. Cocaine abusers also have higher rates of mental disorders and addiction.

Cocaine is highly addictive. Whether or not it is considered a narcotic is irrelevant in terms of how it impacts people negatively who may be unable to control use and feel helpless to quit. Treatment is the best option for an individual who is addicted to cocaine or crack cocaine. It can often take many attempts to quit but it is worthwhile to start by admitting a problem exists and seeking immediate medical attention.

Narcotics are dangerous drugs with highly addictive properties. If you have been struggling to quit narcotic drugs or cocaine, The Villa can help. Our programs and treatment protocol provide a safe, comfortable environment to explore recovery options. Call today to find out how we can help you get started.