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Cutting Cocaine: What are the Harmful Additives Added To Coke

what is cocaine cut

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Although it is allowed to be used for medical purposes, it causes far-from-reality hallucinations that people using it get addicted to it pretty fast because they feel a sudden surge of happiness. Addiction occurs because it stimulates reward center in the hypothalamus in the brain thus inducing an apotheosis in the mood and false sense of accomplishment. Cocaine is being obtained by people of every age, especially youngsters who initially try it for fun but later become addicted to it and readily pay whatever it costs to have some of it.
Cocaine abuse itself is a very dangerous situation. However, nowadays the cocaine being distributed on the street has become a form of slow poisoning due to extremely hazardous additives that it is being cut with. Another problem is the ignorance of cut cocaine dangers.

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Table of Contents

How is Cocaine Cut?

It doesn’t matter which form of cocaine is being manufactured i.e. whether it is injectable, made for smoking or inhalation, dissolved in water or fusion of substances with cocaine is done by the manufacturers. Cutting of cocaine is done with two purposes in mind, either to change texture and color or increase the weight of the product or to increase the intensity of euphoric feeling which is a result of cocaine intake. Pure coke is obtained from processed dried coca leaves. Growing cocaine abuse and potential business opportunity in dealing with cocaine, coupled with difficulties in manufacturing adequate quantities of the substance has compelled dealers to cut cocaine with substances that are not just injurious to health, and they can actually cause death to an enormous amount.

What is Cocaine Cut With?

Mans hand holds plastic bag with cocaine powder.

One batch of pure cocaine is mixed with adulterants either to increase weight and converted into hundreds of small packets as the amount is increased quite significantly by this type of cut and the buyer cannot identify the difference, but it will definitely stimulate the brain in combination with coke. They are added in varying amounts according to the money paid by the buyer.

Some common substances which are added are as follows:
As Fillers
These have an appearance similar to coke hence used to achieve the desired amount.

  • Boric Acid which is an insecticide compound, also used as a disinfectant
  • Creative whose supplements are used by bodybuilders
  • Mannitol which is used by industries for food flavors and in medicine it is used as a diuretic. Its anti-caking properties are the reason it is added to a packet of cocaine
  • Paracetamol
  • Phenacetin is a painkiller being used in cocaine and heroin samples
  • Common powdered sugar

Effect Enhancers
These are some substances which are used because they have chemical properties similar to cocaine thus produce cumulative effects:

  • Levamisole, the most common impurity added in cocaine. Initially, it was added in small amounts now on raids when a batch of cocaine is seized, almost 70% samples have this dangerous drug. It is anthelminthic used for farm animals. It is added as a compound produced by its metabolism called aminorex which acts on receptors producing amphetamine-like effects thus bringing change into force of cocaine making it more desirable in the market.
  • Caffeine, as it is also a stimulant thus it is added to improve quality of the effect
  • Benzocaine, it has similar properties of anesthesia as cocaine, so it is added in the sample.

What Are Cocaine Types?

Following are the different types of cocaine sold:

  • Hydrochloride Salt – It is produced by reacting cocaine with an acid solvent and producing a powdered hydrochloride salt.
  • Freebase cocaine – This is a comparatively authentic form, it uses ammonia and ether in its manufacturing process.
  • Crack Coke Cut – It is called “crack” because it produces a cracking sound when it is heated and smoked. It is also the form in which the maximum additives are added. Additives are added to the cocaine before hydrochloride’s mixes with ammonia, or baking soda is heated to evaporate hydrochloride. It is in the form of hard crystals which are dry and hard.

What Are the Harmful Effects of Cocaine Additives?

Side effects of cocaine are dangerous as it activates the brain in an unnatural fashion and forces it to stay excited for long times, this damages nerves. Its addiction potential is very high and physical and psychological dependence is another worrisome factor as the abuser destroys his body by abusing this medicine. Health effects of additives, nonetheless, are much more than ordinary cocaine. For instance:

  • Levamisole used to be given to humans to eliminate parasitic infection, and it was later declared unfit to be used on humans as it caused a serious medical illness called agranulocytosis. In this condition, white blood cells which are a major part of immunity decrease in numbers so much that a person suffers from a severe immune deficiency.
  • The addition of other anesthetic products such as benzocaine etc. can raise the threshold of anesthesia in an abuser thus complicating surgical and medical procedures. Loss of sensations might start appearing due to sustained suppression of pain sensation.
  • Sudden heart failure, arrhythmias, stroke and liver problems can arise due to injecting fast-acting substances which are taken through intravenous route.
  • Sudden death can occur as a person trying to keep the hallucination state might overdose without realizing.

The effects of additives on a human body range from respiratory tract irritation to stroke and heart attack. So, awareness regarding cocaine abuse and additives should be given to cocaine addicts on every level. Cocaine is a medically prescribed drug in certain scenarios, but it is far more popular due to its addictive nature. It is important to know cocaine use symptoms.
It has its own side effects when it is abused, however, a phenomenon called cocaine cutting has doubled the risk of health problems. Cutting cocaine simply means adding impurities or additives in the sample. It is being cut with substances such as Boric acid, Levamisole, Benzocaine, caffeine, etc., some of which only make the sample heavier while others enhance the euphoric sensation produced by cocaine.

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  1. de Souza L. M. et al. A survey of adulterants used to cut cocaine in samples seized in the Espírito Santo State by GC-MS allied to chemometric tools. Science & Justice. 2016; 56(2): 73-9. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2015.11.006.
  2. Pope J. D., Drummer O. H., Schneider H. G. The cocaine cutting agent levamisole is frequently detected in cocaine users. Pathology. 2018; 50(5): 536-539. doi: 10.1016/j.pathol.2018.03.006.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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