What Substances Do Drug Dealers Actually Cut Cocaine With?

Common cocaine additives include baking soda, boric acid, caffeine, creatine, laundry detergent, laxatives, or local anesthetics. More on the associated risks and dangers of cutting coke with these substances here.

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ARTICLE OVERVIEW: It’s common for drug dealers to cut their drugs as a means of boosting profit. Sometimes, the cutting agents are very dangerous for both the brain and body and can result in severe health risks. This article aims to identify which substances are used to cut cocaine and to described the dangers involved. At the end, we invite your questions.


Table of Contents:

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug derived from coca plants which are native to South America. The drug is classified as a Schedule II due to its high potential for abuse which can lead to serious physical or mental health problems. The big difference between a Schedule II drug in comparison to Schedule I is that Schedule II are used medically. In fact, health care providers may use cocaine for a variety of purposes, such as local anesthesia during surgery.

However, since cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs we know, there’s less of a chance you’ll find it in a hospital. Instead, street cocaine comes as a white, crystal powder with a variety of nicknames such as:

  • Blow
  • Coke
  • Crack
  • Rock
  • Snow

Typically, people snort cocaine through the nose or rub the powder into the lining of their gums. Some people smoke cocaine after it’s been processed to create a rock-like formation. This is known as Crack. Others will go as far as to dissolve the powder and inject it into their veins. Those who inject the drug may do so in combination with heroin – known as a Speedball – as a means of experiencing both a stimulating and soothing high.

The main psychoactive effects of cocaine are as follows:

  • Confidence
  • Dilated pupils
  • Exhilarations
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased energy
  • Increased temperature
  • Indifference to pain and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mental alertness
  • Paranoia
  • Sexual arousal

Dangers in Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine changes the chemistry of the brain and body. Cocaine speeds up the central nervous system (CNS) when it enters blood vessels (typically found in the nose) and then makes its way into the bloodstream. As a result, this allows the chemical to travel throughout the entire body.

Within the brain, cocaine produces large amounts of dopamine. Since an excessive amount of dopamine builds up, a cocaine high is very powerful. However, on the other end of the spectrum, the body isn’t able reproduce significant amounts of dopamine on its own after regular cocaine use. Therefore, the brain becomes reliant on cocaine for this production and the user becomes addicted.

Cocaine abuse can cause a range of short and long-term effects on the body and brain. Those who use for a long period of time risk the following:

  • Brain chemical imbalance
  • Chronic infections
  • Constructed blood vessels
  • Heart problems
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of smell
  • Nasal deformity
  • Nausea
  • Nose damage (septal perforation)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Over-excitability
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss

Overdose Signs

Furthermore, people who abuse cocaine are at high risk of overdose. This will occur when too much of the drug is taken and causes a potentially lethal overstimulation of the body and brain. It’s important to know that cocaine is responsible for a large number of emergency room visits as sudden death is always a possibility. Especially for first-time users.

It’s expected that people who overdose will feel an amplification of cocaine’s normal effects and, therefore, may not be entirely aware of what’s happening to them. It’s important to inform yourself of the signs of a cocaine overdose in case it happens to you or someone you love.

Signs of cocaine overdose include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Extreme body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Psychosis
  • Tremors

These symptoms can lead to one of the following fatal consequences:

  • Heart attack
  • Seizure
  • Stroke

If you are witnessing someone overdose, it’s important to call 911 immediately! A cocaine overdose can be reversed under the proper medical supervision.

What Do Dealers Mix With Cocaine?

Drug dealers cut cocaine with a variety of substances to increase profit. For example, let’s say someone has a gram of cocaine. They can double that gram by cutting it with a gram of something else – preferably, something similar to the white, powdery appearance of cocaine.

The danger in mixing cocaine with other substances is drug dealers is that the user usually doesn’t know what’s in the product. Furthermore, the cocaine could’ve gone through multiple dealers and, therefore, gone through multiple cuts. This means the user could be taking in multiple substances.

The following are a list of some common cocaine additives and information into how they affect the body. The reason dealers choose these substances is due to their resemblance to cocaine itself.

Baking Soda

The purpose of baking soda is to act as a chemical levener. Its ingredients in combination with acid create bubbles which allow for baking goods to rise. Dealers use baking soda with cocaine as a means of processing it into what’s known as crack cocaine. When someone intakes crack, it can cause a lung disorder called hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Boric Acid

Cocaine may be added with boric acid as a means of amplifying the effects of the drug. However, this substance is so toxic, experts have considered it a dangerous poison. Too much of boric acid alone can lead to death.


Since caffeine is also a stimulant, it may be added to cocaine as a means of heightening its effects. In fact, the way in which both stimulants effect the brain and body are quite similar. The only difference, caffeine is much less powerful than cocaine.


Creatine is commonly used by people who desire to build muscle as it’s a compound form in protein metabolism and already naturally produced within our living tissues. Dealers might cut it with cocaine because it has a similar appearance and is easily accessible.

Laundry Detergent

Like creatine, laundry detergent is added to cocaine for the sake of bulking up the supply. Though it doesn’t add to the effects felt by the user, it makes the drug more dangerous.


The primary use of laxatives is to treat constipation through the inducement of bowel movements. Sometimes, people abuse laxatives for the sake of losing weight. Likewise, with creatine and laundry detergent, it’s another cheap substance which looks similar to cocaine and has no added effects.

Local anesthetics

The difference between anesthetics and local anesthetics is the locality is meant to hit a specific area of the body. For example, when you get a cavity filled at the dentist, they’ll give you a local anesthetic as a means of hitting the specific area of the cavity. Chemically, it’s very similar to cocaine and, therefore, dealers mix the two substances as a means of boosting profit and effect.

The BBC posted a full list of impurities found in cocaine after being seized by police. These include the above and following:

  • Adulterant
  • Benzocaine
  • Diltiazem
  • Dimethylterephthalate
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Lignocaine (also known as lidocaine)
  • Mannitol
  • Paracetamol
  • Phenacetin
  • Sugars
  • Tetramisole hydrochloride

It should be noted, drug dealers don’t just mix cocaine with other substances to make a profit. Sometimes, they’re looking to provide an alternate drug and use these substances in order to change it into a different form.

Crack Cocaine

The most common alternate form to cocaine is crack. This is a form of cocaine which is processed with baking soda or ammonia. In turn, this develops the substance to transform into a more powerful, smokable “rock” form. Users nicknamed this derivative of cocaine to the crackling sound heard when the drug is heated up.

Since crack is a more potent form of cocaine, it also comes with further risks. The effects of crack are short, usually lasting about 5 to 15 minutes. After the high dies off, a hard crash follows causing users to instantly have a strong desire for more. Inevitably, people struggling with a crack addiction will take hit after hit in order to sustain the high – a behavior known as “binging”. The short-term effects of crack cocaine include:

  • Aggressiveness and paranoid behavior
  • Constricted peripheral blood vessels
  • Depression
  • Dilated pupils
  • Euphoria
  • Hyper-stimulation
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Intense cravings
  • Overdose – sudden death

Over time, people facing a crack addiction face further complications. The following are the long-term effects of crack abuse:

  • Aggressiveness and paranoid behavior
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Brain seizures
  • Death
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Heart attack or heart disease
  • Increased participation in risky behavior
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances
  • Reproductive damage (such as infertility)
  • Respiratory failure
  • Severe depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Stroke

Sometimes, crack cocaine might be advertised to users as cocaine. On the streets, cocaine has more value and, therefore, a drug dealer might fool a customer in order to make more of a profit. Still, both drugs are highly addictive and dangerous towards your health. If you or someone you know is struggling with either a cocaine or crack addiction, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

Basics of Treatment

If you or someone you love is currently struggling with a cocaine addiction, you’ll want to seek help as soon as possible. Due to the health risks and potentially fatal consequences of too much cocaine use. Though treating a cocaine addiction is difficult, we promise you have the ability to do it!

Cocaine treatment tends to follow the following steps:

1. A Medical Assessment

Reputable treatment facilities seek out to give you the best treatment which meets your needs. In order to figure this out, they will perform an assessment to get to know everything about your addiction. By taking different tests and asking a variety of questions, medical professionals will be able to collect information on your current condition and, therefore, offer you the best treatment to fit your needs.

2. A Medical Detox

We’ve discussed how cocaine changes the way in which the body and brain function. Therefore, in order to reverse the effects and let your body learn how to naturally function again, you must undergo withdrawal.

Though cocaine withdrawal isn’t usually dangerous, it’s important to enter a detox facility. Suicidal thoughts, paranoia, or hallucinations can occur in chronic or high-dose users. Sometimes, extreme thinking can lead you to hurt yourself or others…even if you’re mildly dependent. Under medical supervision, you’ll get the best medical treatment in the safest environment. In turn, this may ease withdrawals in comparison to if you did them on your own. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

◦ Agitation
◦ Anxiety
◦ Apathy
◦ Confusion
◦ Cravings
◦ Depression
◦ Dysphoria
◦ Fatigue
◦ Hunger
◦ Irritability
◦ Paranoia
◦ Restlessness
◦ Remorse
◦ Sleep deprivation
◦ Unpleasant dreams

3. Psychotherapy or Talk Therapy

Once you’ve finished detox, you’re going to have to face problems concerning your thinking and mental health. These include how to handle day-to-day life stressors and cravings. The purpose of psychotherapies is to teach you how to handle these emotions without the use of cocaine. Furthermore, due to your cocaine addiction, you may have developed mental health issues which need to be addressed. Psychotherapies used in addiction treatment include:

◦ Behavioral Therapy
◦ Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
◦ Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT)
◦ Contingency Management
◦ Dialectical Behavior Therapy
◦ Group Therapy
◦ Family Therapy
◦ Individual Counseling
◦ Integrative Approach
◦ Motivational Interviewing
◦ Multidimensional Family Therapy
◦ Narcotics Anonymous (NAA)

4. Pharmacotherapy (Medications)

Sometimes, depending on the severity of your addiction, you might be offered a medication in order to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. When it comes to cocaine withdrawal, the following medications might be prescribed:

◦ Amantadine
◦ Antidepressants
◦ Bromocriptine
◦ Desipramine
◦ Diazepam

5. Educational Services

As you go through talk therapy, you’ll also need to prepare to re-enter your day-to-day life. In order to keep informed on how to stay sober, you’ll be offered educational meetings where they’ll continue to inform you of the dangers of cocaine addiction and how to prevent relapse. You’ll also learn more about the science of neurotransmission and how cocaine works in the brain. The idea is that knowledge of what’s causing the “high” makes it less mysterious. Then, you can work towards more healthy alternatives for pleasure.

6. Aftercare Services

Aftercare includes ongoing counseling, sober living, and support group attendance. Some treatment centers schedule regular, weekly check-ins with your lead therapist. Eventually, you’ll need to leave rehab behind and start living on your own. A support system designed for after treatment which helps maintain sobriety.

Where to Find Help

Finding help for cocaine addiction can be difficult. You may not know where to turn or who to talk to about your addiction. The truth of the matter is, there are a variety of options available for you. The first person you’ll want to discuss this with is your doctor or physician. He/she will have all the information you need in order to find the best addiction treatment facility in your area.

From there, you can begin researching different types of treatment programs and their requirements. This is for the sake of finding which one is best for you. If you want a more precise search, there are internet search engines at your disposal:

Furthermore, you’ll want to stay on the lookout for support groups either outside or within your treatment program. The people involved in these will help you along the recovery process and make sure you stay sober.

If you need to reach out to someone immediately, here are some hotline numbers to contact:

  • Call our hotline listed on this page.
  • National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI): 800-729-6686
  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hope Line: 800-475-HOPE (4673)
  • National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service: 800-622-4357
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or 800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
  • Substance Abuse Helpline (available 24/7): 800-923-4327
  • Relapse Prevention Hotline: 800-RELAPSE (735-2773)

When you’re ready to look for treatment, we’re always glad to help! Feel free to give us a call. We can help talk through your options. We understand addiction. Confidential, empathetic hotline operators are ready to take your call.

Let’s verify your coverage for treatment at an American Addiction Centers location. Your information is always confidential.

Your Questions

If you have any further questions pertaining to what substances dealers cut with cocaine or how to treat a cocaine addiction, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any advice to give on these two topics, we’d also love to hear from you.

We try to reply to each comment in a personal and prompt manner.

About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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