An increasing number of what’s sold today as “cocaine” contains no actual cocaine. The mixture labeled as cocaine is usually some combination of fentanyl or carfentanil and over-the-counter drugs. This is known as “cutting,” or adding different chemicals to the drug, and can be especially dangerous. So if it’s not really the drug it’s advertised as, how is cocaine made?
Dealers will often cut cocaine with other drugs or substances to increase profits or change the drug’s desired effects. However, these chemicals can be deadly. In some states like Ohio, cut cocaine has led to an increase in opioid overdoses and deaths.
It’s important to understand that any amount of cocaine use is dangerous, no matter how pure or uncut it may be. That said, understanding the dangers of cut cocaine can help prevent accidental overdose or death. Below is everything you need to know about how cocaine is made and used.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a very powerful, addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. Pure cocaine is a flakey white powder, but can also be injected or smoked when in crack cocaine form. Most users of cocaine will snort the drug, as this provides a quick high without the use of any drug paraphernalia. Other names for cocaine include:
Cocaine is currently listed as a schedule II drug. This means that it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.
How Is Cocaine Made?
The process of making cocaine typically requires three major steps. That said, several smaller steps take place before the drug reaches the street. These often involve cutting the drug with other substances or changing the drug to a rock form for smoking.
The first step in how cocaine is made is the obvious growing and harvesting of the coca plant. There are several different strains of the plant, each with its amount of the necessary active ingredient. Once the correct plant is grown, the leaves are soaked in gasoline to help separate the alkaloid from the leaves. The leaves are then hung to dry.
Once dried, the leaves are then soaked in a substance containing lime or other alkaline liquids. This step helps extract the cocaine from the leaves. Next, the leaves are pulled from the mixture and soaked in sulfuric acid to dissolve the remaining leaves.
Finally, the mixture is soaked once again in acid, this time acetone. Acetone is a colorless, highly volatile, and flammable liquid usually found in nail polish remover. Once this is done, what is left is pure, uncut cocaine.
The last step, usually done at the dealer level is cutting or adding different chemicals to the drug.
Why Are Cocaine Cutting Agents Used?
Given the drug’s illicit nature, many dealers have learned how to cut cocaine. A dealer may cut their cocaine with other drugs to change or intensify the effects of the drug. This is typically done to get users hooked more quickly so that they will buy more frequently. A dealer may also cut their cocaine with less addictive chemicals to sell less of the actual drug and make more money.
Cutting agents can change the form, texture, or color of the drug, and can make it easier to consume. While pure, uncut cocaine appears salt-like and powdery, typical additives used to cut cocaine can make the drug appear light pink or off-white. Cutting cocaine can be especially dangerous and can lead to overdose or even death.
Common cocaine cutting agents include:
- Laundry detergent
- Boric acid
- Local anesthetics like procaine or lidocaine
- Tylenol or aspirin
- Levamisole (a cattle dewormer)
Using cocaine that has been cut with any substance can be extremely dangerous, even if that cutting agent seems safe. Some cocaine that has been cut to increase its addictive qualities can even carry a lethal dose of fentanyl. Even chemicals like caffeine or creatine can harm the mucus membrane in the nose and can have different effects on the body and brain when inhaled. Without knowing what’s in cocaine, it’s impossible to take in a way that is even remotely safe.
Side Effects of Cocaine
Cocaine sends high levels of dopamine, the chemical responsible for feeling pleasure, to your brain. This sudden build-up of dopamine causes intense feelings of energy and alertness, called a high.
Some short term effects of cocaine use can include:
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, and sight
- Intense feelings of happiness
- Decreased appetite
Frequent use of cocaine can lead to serious health complications. These can include some of the following:
- Chronic headaches
- Convulsions and seizures
- Heart disease, heart attack, and stroke
- Mood swings
- Lung damage
- HIV or hepatitis if injected
- Bowel decay if swallowed
- Loss of smell, nosebleeds, and trouble swallowing
Given cocaine’s addictive properties, users typically experience strong cravings for the drug. However, frequent cocaine use can lead to the brain developing a tolerance. This means to reach the same desired high, stronger doses are needed. This can lead to addiction or overdose.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment In Ohio
If you or a loved one is suffering from cocaine addiction, then the time to get help is now. At Ridgeview Hospital, located in Middle Point, Ohio, we understand how difficult it can be to take that first step. We also understand that addiction is often accompanied by mental illness. When someone with mental illness has a substance use disorder, it’s referred to as a co-occurring substance use disorder. At Ridgeview Hospital, we’re no stranger to co-occurring disorders, which is why we offer our patients a wide array of evidence-based, effective treatment options that help treat the underlying causes of addiction.
Treatment for co-occurring disorders starts with a dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis programs are an effective way to treat addiction and mental illness simultaneously. At Ridgeview Hospital, our dual diagnosis program allows for patients to safely detox from drugs or alcohol in a safe, caring environment. This not only reduces the chances for relapse, but also gives our patients the highest likelihood of recovery, and that is always our first priority.
Along with dual diagnosis treatment, we also offer a number of different treatment options that can help you overcome your co-occurring substance use disorder. These treatment options can be provided alongside addiction counseling to help provide you with the best possible care. Some of our treatment options include:
For answers to your questions about cocaine, or to get more information on how is cocaine made, reach out to us by calling 419-968-2950. You may also contact us online using our confidential contact form. However you chose to reach out, we’ll be here ready to help you on your way to a healthy, meaningful recovery.