Lidocaine has recently been associated with two deaths in NSW relating to cocaine use, and police drug seizures have found high levels of lidocaine in cocaine. Further hospitalisations from heroin overdose in people using cocaine have occurred across Sydney.


Know the risks

  • Lidocaine (lignocaine) is a local anaesthetic commonly used to cut cocaine. Lidocaine in high doses can stop your heart beating (cardiac arrest). Lidocaine results in numbness similar to cocaine.
  • Heroin can cause rapid and life-threatening overdose, even in a single line of powder.
  • You are at increased risk of overdose if you:
    • continue to use, when you are not getting the desired effect
    • use a high dose
    • use with other drugs e.g. alcohol, benzodiazepines, ketamine, GHB, opioids.
    • use drugs when you are alone.

Effects to look out for

  • No effect or unexpected effects may indicate the presence of other drugs, not just fillers.
  • Use of heroin may result in drowsiness, loss of consciousness, slow/difficult breathing and skin turning blue.
  • High doses of lidocaine can cause dizziness, seizures, coma and cardiac arrest.

Getting help

If you see the warning signs of overdose:

  • seek help immediately from your nearest emergency department or call '000'
  • start CPR if someone is not breathing
  • Naloxone reverse the effects of opioids, use it if you have it. Call '000' even if naloxone is used.

Support and advice

For free and confidential advice:

Take Home Naloxone Program

  • People who use cocaine should consider carrying naloxone, as should people who use opioids. There are increasing cases of opioids found unexpectedly in illicit drugs.
  • Naloxone is a life-saving medication that reverses the effects of opioids (e.g. heroin). It is does not require a prescription and is free for anyone at risk of opioid overdose in NSW. It is available as a nasal spray or injection from some pharmacies and other health services.
  • For participating locations and more information on take-home naloxone visit Your Room: Take Home Naloxone

Call '000' even if naloxone has been administered, naloxone doesn't work for all drugs.

Current as at: Thursday 12 August 2021