Cutting cocaine results in its reduced purity. Cocaine is adulterated with a variety of other substances to produce larger volumes. Recently, studies have shown the levels of some of the chemicals to be increased. Testing samples of cocaine is a good way to ensure that purchased cocaine contains safe levels of these cutting agents. The most common cutting agents are listed here:
Levamisole is used as a dog and cattle wormer. This anti-parasitic was estimated by the US DEA to be in 70% of all cocaine analyzed. This number is up 30% from 2008.
Phenacetine is an analgesic. In 1983 it was withdrawn from US after it proved to be correlated to cancer and kidney damage.
Benzocaine and Lidocaine are both used in UK as a dental anesthetic. It is also used to numb pain in throats and sunburn.
Procaine is a local and topical anesthetic. It is also known as Novocain. It is an alternative to Lidocaine. Like Lidocaine, Procaine is a vasodiluter, with none of the addictive properties associated with cocaine. Procaine is also found in the drug MDMA.
Mannitol, inositol, pectin, glucose, maltodrextrin, lactose, saccharin, aspirin, and ketamine are also common additives in cocaine.
Higher levels of levamisole, phenacetine and/or ephedrine in cocaine poses a potential hazard to health. The presence of increased levamisole levels in cocaine has resulted in the Levamisole Induced Necrosis Syndrome, in which death to some or all cells result from the ingestion of cocaine adulterated with high levels of levamisole. Phenacetine, also known as ephedrine imitates cocaine’s action on the body by giving the user the feeling of increased energy. Levamisole can damage the immune system and has resulted in several probable cases of agranulocytosis.
Cocaine in the Body
The presence of levamisole, phenacetine and/or ephedrine in cocaine determines its purity or toxicity, and effects the action of metabolites within the body, and may also determine the ability of the body to handle the metabolic process. After initial ingestion, cocaine is then distributed absorbed throughout different areas of the body. These smaller quantities of the drugs then activate the brain giving the user feelings of euphoria. Metabolites are the waste product produced from the metabolic process of the body burning fat. When fat molecules are burned, the metabolites from the cocaine will be released into the blood where they then enter into the liver and kidneys, two major filtering organs through which all the body’s waste will eventually pass. Two major metabolites are involved in cocaine’s effects on the body, and its detection. Benzoylecgonine is the main metabolite of cocaine. Testing for this metabolite if more common than the testing of cocaine because this metabolite is rarely found within the blood streams of healthy individuals. In the event that large amounts of alcohol where also ingested with cocaine, the metabolite cocaethylene will also form. This metabolite is the ethyl ester of benzoylecgonine and is primarily responsible for the feelings of local anesthesia and increased energy. As the reader may surmise, the detection of these by-products, or metabolites, is possible through the blood or urine, where they are flushed out of the body. The amount of time which this takes varies for different types of drugs, however cocaine typically stays in the system for 2 to 4 days after use. Benzoylecgonine has a threshold value of 2 ng/mL or more to produce a positive test result, which means that even minute amounts of cocaine can be detected. The risks of cocaine abuse are many, however these cutting agents increase risks of complications and possible overdose.
Video example – showing ecstacy but works very similarly to any drug test kit