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What Is Cocaine Cut With?

Whether injected, smoked, or snorted, any batch of cocaine you encounter will most likely be altered or cut with some type of additive material.1 Additive material may vary depending on how and where the drug is manufactured and, later, how it is further prepared for its various methods of use.1,2,3

What Substances Are Used as Cocaine Cutting Agents?

The substances used to cut cocaine are broken down into adulterants and substitutes. Adulterants, such as baking soda and laundry detergent, are used to get more doses of cocaine from a batch. Substitutes, such as lidocaine and procaine, produce similar effects to cocaine at a lower cost. Freebase cocaine is made with ammonia and ether, and crack cocaine is made by dissolving it with water and then mixing it with ammonia or baking soda.

Types of Cocaine

Cocaine in its purest form derives from the leaves of the coca plant. This drug is a member of a large general category of other plant-based alkaloid drugs such as caffeine, morphine, and nicotine. Once dried and isolated into an organic form, cocaine appears as a white, crystal-like powder, though it is unlikely you will find pure, uncut cocaine on the street.5

On the street, cocaine generally comes in one of two forms: a base form and a hydrochloride salt form. The base form of cocaine includes any manufacturing process that does not use acid as a neutralizer. To manufacture the salt form, the drug is neutralized with an acid solvent. The final product appears in powder form (the hydrochloride salt), which may be snorted as is or dissolved in water for intravenous use.1

This helps to thin out the batch, which means a dealer has more of the drug to sell. Depending on the type of additive used, the final product can appear off-white or pinkish. The texture of the drug also changes depending on the type of additive used.

Cocaine Additives

Additives used with cocaine come in the form of adulterants and substitutes. Adulterants are generally used to stretch the amount of cocaine used in doses while substitutes work to mimic some of the effects of cocaine but at a cheaper cost. Additives used to cut cocaine may include a range of materials, the most common of which are:4,7,8,9

Adulterants

  • Diltiazem and hydroxyzine: These are blood pressure medications.
  • Levamisole: A de-worming medication for animals and humans, levamisole was taken off the market due to the side effect of severely lowering white blood cell counts. Levamisole is by far the most used cocaine adulterant of the last decade, primarily because its metabolite, aminorex, has stimulant-like properties.
  • Phenacetin and paracetamol: These are close relatives of the pain reliever acetaminophen.

Substitutes

  • Caffeine.
  • Levamisole (as above, due to the stimulant effects of its metabolite).
  • Local anesthetics (e.g., lidocaine, procaine, tetracaine).

Freebase Cocaine Cuts

Unlike the salt form of cocaine, freebase cocaine is a drug with a base form that, due to the drug’s lower melting temperature as a base, can be injected, smoked, or snorted. Instead of the acid neutralizer used to make salt-based cocaine, freebase cocaine involves the use of ammonia as a base agent and ether as a solvent:6

The mixture is then dried to a powder form. In some cases, the ether dries into the final powdered cocaine product. When this happens, the cocaine user can develop burns along the nasal passages and throat.

Freebase cocaine is:

  • Purer than the salt-based form of cocaine. Because it is produced by evaporation, most additives are filtered out during the manufacturing process.
  • More addictive when smoked. Because the drug can reach the brain more quickly than through snorting or injections, this results in a more rapid onset of its stimulant effects.

Crack Cocaine Cuts

Crack cocaine is the most used form of freebase cocaine. The manufacturing process for crack cocaine involves dissolving cocaine hydrochloride in water and then mixing it with ammonia or baking soda.6

Before the mixture develops into rock form, a dealer will often cut the cocaine powder with a readily available additive or adulterant. While it is preferable to use materials that cause little to no damage to the body (such as baking soda, powdered milk, or powdered sugar), these substances can still wreak havoc if circulated throughout the body via injection. The mixture is then heated until the hydrochloride chemical evaporates. Once dried, the drug becomes a rock-like form that “crackles” when smoked.

If you have used crack cocaine on more than one occasion, you may have noticed how crack rocks can vary in color and texture. Crack rocks can appear in brownish or tan-like colors with either a crumbly or hard surface texture.

Dangers of Cocaine Use

The dangers of using cocaine should not be taken lightly. Cocaine use can have several harmful short-term and long-term effects on your body, and the risk of a fatal overdose only increases the longer you use cocaine.

Short-term effects of cocaine use can include:10

  • Extreme mood changes.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Involuntary movements.
  • Overdose and sudden death.
  • Seizures.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Stroke.

Long-term effects of cocaine use can include:11

  • Damage to multiple organs.
  • Higher risk of infection.
  • Mental health issues, including depression with suicidal ideation.
  • Persistent cognitive impairment.

Long-term needle use (intravenous, intramuscular, or subcutaneous administration) may also result in arterial blockages, lung infection, septic emboli, and skin and tissue infections around injection sites.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

There are many cocaine addiction treatment options to choose from. Most rehabilitation programs will assist you through an initial detox period, followed by a combination of individual and group therapy. Treatment approaches for cocaine addiction may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management, community-based recovery groups (e.g. 12-Step programs), and therapeutic communities.12

Cocaine addiction treatment may be provided in an inpatient rehab setting where you live at a facility, or in an outpatient rehab setting where you live at home and attend treatment during the day. Additional amenities may also be provided at luxury rehab facilities and executive rehab facilities.

Does My Insurance Cover Cocaine Addiction Rehab?

Insurance may be top of mind as you think about taking the first step to recovery. The good news is, your insurance provider will likely cover at least part of, if not all, the cost of treatment. The extent of your coverage will vary based on your specific policy, but you can contact your insurance company by calling the number on the back of your card. You can also check your insurance by filling out the form below.

 Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of inpatient and outpatient treatment services. AAC is dedicated to supporting individuals struggling with addiction on their journey to recovery. If you are looking for rehabs near me or information on cocaine addiction treatment, you can contact us 24/7 at to learn more.

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