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What is cocaine made out of? Cutting Agents, Components, Side Effects & Treatment Options

What is cocaine made out of? Cocaine Cutting Agents

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 what is cocaine made out of?

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, cutting 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 cutting 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 made out of? 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:

what is cocaine made out of
What is cocaine made out of? An increasing number of what’s sold today as “cocaine” contains no actual cocaine.
  • Coke
  • Snow
  • Blow
  • Rock
  • Crack

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.

What is cocaine made out of?

What is cocaine made out of? 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.

What is cocaine made out of?
What is cocaine made out of? The process of making cocaine typically requires three 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.

Why Are Cocaine Cutting Agents Used?

What is cocaine made out of? 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
  • Laxatives
  • Fentanyl
  • Carfentanil
  • Caffeine
  • Boric acid
  • Amphetamines
  • Local anesthetics like procaine or lidocaine
  • Creatine
  • Tylenol or aspirin
  • Levamisole (a cattle dewormer)

What is cocaine made out of? 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 it 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
  • Anger/irritability
  • Decreased appetite
  • Paranoia

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 cocaine addiction or cocaine overdose.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction 

The treatment for Cocaine Addiction must address the context of polydrug users in order to be effective. As stated by The National Institute on Drug Abuse in the piece ‘Cocaine Research Report. How is cocaine addiction treated?’,

“In 2013, cocaine accounted for almost 6 percent of all admissions to drug abuse treatment programs. The majority of individuals (68 percent in 2013) who seek treatment for cocaine use crack and are likely to be polydrug users, meaning they use more than one substance. 

Those who provide treatment for cocaine use should recognize that drug addiction is a complex disease involving changes in the brain as well as a wide range of social, familial, and other environmental factors; therefore, treatment of Cocaine Addiction must address this broad context as well as any other co-occurring mental disorders that require additional behavioral or pharmacological interventions”.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction is focused on behavioral interventions that can be used in order to manage this substance dependence in an effective way. There are no medicines that work as substitutes for powder cocaine, crack cocaine and other stimulants of this kind. However, currently, there are some pharmacological advances.

What is cocaine made out of?
What is cocaine made out of? The treatment for Cocaine Addiction must address the context of polydrug users in order to be effective.

Pharmacological Approaches

Currently, there is no US. Approved medications, drug administration, or a specific diet to treat Cocaine Addiction. However, researchers are exploring a variety of neurobiological targets. 

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse,  several medications marketed for other diseases show promise in reducing cocaine use within controlled clinical trials. Among these, disulfiram, which is used to treat alcoholism, has shown the most promise. Scientists do not yet know exactly how disulfiram reduces cocaine use, though its effects may be related to its ability to inhibit an enzyme that converts dopamine to norepinephrine.

However, disulfiram does not work for everyone. Pharmacogenetic studies are revealing variants in the gene that encodes the DBH enzyme and seems to influence disulfiram’s effectiveness in reducing cocaine use. Knowing a patient’s DBH genotype could help predict whether disulfiram would be an effective pharmacotherapy for cocaine dependence in that person.

Cocaine Addiction Vaccine

Researchers have developed and conducted early tests on a cocaine vaccine that could help reduce the risk of relapse. The vaccine stimulates the immune system to create cocaine-specific antibodies that bind to cocaine, preventing it from getting into the brain. In addition to showing the vaccine’s safety, a clinical trial found that patients who attained high antibody levels significantly reduced cocaine use. However, only 38 percent of the vaccinated subjects attained sufficient antibody levels for only 2 months.

Researchers are working to improve the cocaine vaccine by enhancing the strength of binding to cocaine and its ability to elicit antibodies. New vaccine technologies, including gene transfer to boost the specificity and level of antibodies produced or enhance the metabolism of cocaine, may also improve the effectiveness of this treatment. A pharmacogenetics study with a small number of patients suggests that individuals with a particular genotype respond well to the cocaine vaccine—an intriguing finding that requires more research.

Behavioral Interventions

Many behavioral treatments for Cocaine Addiction have proven to be effective in both residential and outpatient settings. Indeed, behavioral therapies are often the only available and effective treatments for many drug problems, including stimulant addictions. However, the integration of behavioral and pharmacological treatments may ultimately prove to be the most effective approach.

  • Contingency Management: One form of behavioral therapy that is showing positive results in people with cocaine use disorders is Contingency Management (CM), also called motivational incentives. Programs use a voucher or prize-based system that rewards patients who abstain from cocaine and other drugs. On the basis of drug-free urine tests, the patients earn points, or chips, which can be exchanged for items that encourage healthy living, such as a gym membership, movie tickets, or dinner at a local restaurant. CM may be particularly useful for helping patients achieve initial abstinence from cocaine and stay in treatment. This approach has recently been shown to be practical and effective in community treatment programs. Research indicates that CM benefits diverse populations of cocaine users. For example, studies show that cocaine-dependent pregnant women and women with young children who participated in a CM program as an adjunct to other substance use disorder treatment were able to stay abstinent longer than those who received an equivalent amount of vouchers with no behavioral requirements. Patients participating in CM treatment for cocaine use who also experienced psychiatric symptoms—such as depression, emotional distress, and hostility—showed a significant reduction in these problems, probably related to reductions in cocaine use.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): is an effective approach for preventing relapse. This approach helps patients develop critical skills that support long-term abstinence—including the ability to recognize the situations in which they are most likely to use cocaine, avoid these situations, and cope more effectively with a range of problems associated with drug use. This therapy can also be used in conjunction with other treatments, thereby maximizing the benefits of both.
  • Therapeutic communities (TCs): Drug-free residences in which people in recovery from substance use disorders help each other to understand and change their behaviors—can be an effective treatment for people who use drugs, including cocaine. TCs may require a 6- to 12-month stay and can include onsite vocational rehabilitation and other supportive services that focus on successful re-integration of the individual into society. TCs can also provide support in other important areas—improving legal, employment, and mental health outcomes.

Regardless of the specific type of substance use disorder treatment, it is important that patients receive services that match all of their treatment needs. For example, an unemployed patient would benefit from vocational rehabilitation or career counseling along with addiction treatment. Patients with marital problems may need couples counseling.

Once inpatient treatment ends, ongoing support—also called aftercare—can help people avoid relapse. Research indicates that people who are committed to abstinence, engage in self-help behaviors, and believe that they have the ability to refrain from using cocaine (self-efficacy) are more likely to abstain. Aftercare serves to reinforce these traits and address problems that may increase vulnerability to relapse, including depression and declining self-efficacy.

Scientists have found promising results from telephone-based counseling as a low-cost method to deliver aftercare. For example, people who misused stimulants who participated in seven sessions of telephone counseling showed decreasing drug use during the first 3 months, whereas those who did not receive calls increased their use. Voucher incentives can boost patients’ willingness to participate in telephone aftercare, doubling the number of sessions received according to one study.

Reclaim Your Life From Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction is a serious disease that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up California can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from cocaine addiction with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] Cocaine Addiction » Drug Alcohol Addiction Rehab ( –

[2] ‘Cocaine Research Report. How is Cocaine Addiction treated?’ – National Institute on Drug Abuse (