Drug and alcohol information for PDHPE students

This guide takes you to key eresources, books and information about drugs and alcohol for PDHPE students.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visitors are kindly advised that this website includes images, sounds and names of people who have passed.

All users should be aware that some topics or historical content may be culturally sensitive, offensive or distressing, and that some images may contain nudity or are of people not yet identified. Certain words, terms or descriptions may reflect the author's/creator's attitude or that of the period in which they were written, but are now considered inappropriate in today's context.

Key to library resources

Access anywhere with a library card In the Library (or anywhere with a Library card for NSW residents)
Available to access in the library Only in the Library
Publicly available online Publicly available



Cocaine is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant, but it can also be chemically synthesised. It is a stimulant drug, as well as a potent local anaesthetic.

Coca leaves have been used for thousands of years in South America for religious, mystical, social and medicinal purposes.

The active chemical was isolated in 1855, and purified and named cocaine in 1860. By the end of the 1800s, cocaine was used in a number of medicines, as well as being an ingredient in the soft drink Coca-Cola.

The drug was banned from use in medicines and beverages in the United States in 1914.

In its pure form, cocaine is a white crystalline powder called cocaine hydrochloride. Cocaine hydrochloride cannot be smoked effectively because it is destroyed at high temperatures; however, if the hydrochloride is removed through a chemical process the drug is converted into freebase , which can be smoked.

Crack is a particularly pure form of freebase cocaine. It often comes in the form of small lumps known as 'rocks'. Crack cocaine is rarely seen in Australia.

Cocaine sold on the street is often cut or diluted with other substances, such as glucose, lactose or baking powder.

Read more about cocaine here.


Drug facts

Use the following websites to find information about specific drugs, including their long and short term effects, how they are used, legal status and information on mixing drugs.

Journal articles

Journal articles are a good source of explanations and discussions of drug and alcohol issues.  There are several eresources with links to journal articles available in the State Library.

A quick guide to drugs and alcohol

Further information from Drug Info

Visit the Drug Info website for free drug and alcohol information for the community of NSW. Drug Info is a partnership between NSW Ministry of Health and the State Library of NSW.