Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America and grown in places like Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. This illegal substance, also known as “coke,” is commonly used as a recreational drug due to its stimulating effects on the central nervous system. The ingredients in cocaine are what make it so addictive, and understanding what is in cocaine can help us better understand the dangers of this drug and how to address addiction.
The History of Cocaine
In the early 1900s, cocaine was the main active ingredient in many tonics and elixirs used to treat a variety of illnesses and pain management. It was even an ingredient in the early recipes of Coca-Cola.
Research has since shown that cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance that can alter brain structure and function if used repeatedly.
Today, cocaine is a Schedule II drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse, but it can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some eye, ear, and throat surgeries.
The Ingredients in Cocaine
Cocaine is made from the coca plant, but the end product contains many other substances besides the active ingredient. The leaves of the coca plant are first processed into a paste and then further refined to create cocaine hydrochloride, which is the most commonly used form of cocaine.
Some of the ingredients found in cocaine include:
- Chemical solvents used in processing, such as gasoline and kerosene
- Other alkaloids from the coca plant, including benzoylecgonine and ecgonine
- Diluents, which are added to increase the amount of cocaine available for sale (these can range from harmless substances like sugar to dangerous ones like laundry detergent or other drugs)
If cocaine is sold in a “cut” form, it means that it has been mixed with other substances to increase its weight and potency. This makes it even more dangerous as the individual may not know exactly what they are ingesting.
Crack cocaine is created by processing the drug with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water, then heating it to remove the hydrochloride to produce a smokable substance.
The term crack, which is the street name given to freebase cocaine, refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked.
Cutting Agents and Adulterants
Street dealers often dilute or cut cocaine with non-psychoactive substances such as cornstarch, talcum powder, flour, or baking soda to increase their profits.
They may also adulterate cocaine with other drugs like other anesthetics or amphetamine, another psychoactive stimulant.
Some of these substances, such as fentanyl, are extremely dangerous.
Dealers also often cut their supply of cocaine with substances to enhance its effects, such as:
- Caffeine – This can create similar but weaker effects
- Lidocaine – This is prescribed to treat heart arrhythmias, and whem mixed with cocaine, it enhances cocaine’s numbing effects
- Procaine – This is a local anesthetic that can cause skin reactions if consumed illicitly
- Phenacetin – A painkiller and fever reducer banned since 1983 for being a carcinogen.
- Levamisole – Originally used for veterinary purposes, this is another ingredient that has proven to be dangerous for humans.
- Mannitol – This is a diuretic used to treat hypertension, but it can cause allergic reactions or respiratory issues when inhaled.
It is virtually impossible for someone using cocaine recreationally to tell the difference between cocaine cut with other ingredients and pure cocaine. Even experienced buyers may not be able to tell the difference. Today, dealers are increasingly cutting cocaine with fentanyl, an extremely powerful opioid. Fentanyl-laced cocaine has led to a growing number of overdose deaths.
How Treatment for Cocaine Addiction Can Help
At Honey Lake Clinic, we understand that substance abuse is a complex and dangerous mental health concern. Our experienced staff, licensed therapists, psychologists, and psychiatric specialists strongly believe that faith-based treatment, encompassing mind, body, and spirit, will provide you with the long-lasting tools and knowledge to find freedom from substance abuse.
With a beautiful and tranquil 650-acre lakeside setting, a safe medical environment, 24-hour nursing, doctors, and psychiatric specialists all administering care from a Christian worldview and perspective, Honey Lake Clinic is a unique solution for mental health.