Cocaine – What Is It Cut With?
A number of substances can be used to neutralize or mitigate the harshness of cocaine, prior to consumption. While some of these additives are considered to be generally innocuous, others can induce unwelcome side-effects, not to mention some of the side-effects caused by the active components contained in the natural form of the drug. A few reasons exist as to why cocaine, in its powder form, is diluted in the first place, as opposed to crack cocaine/free base, where a number of procedures are used to extract any impurities in order to restore its original composition. Pure unadulterated cocaine is nearly impossible to snort without severely damaging sinus tissue and causing profuse nosebleeds, which is one of the reasons why cocaine is generally mixed with less abrasive supplemental powders.
Once extracting the paste (tropane alkaloid) from the coca leaf and letting it dry naturally, the acetone wash method is most commonly used to minimize its acrid base. Even at this point, the drug still has a sharp bite to it, which is when other additives are used before the drug is sold on the black market.
Mannitol, also known as mannite or manna, is a white crystalline substance derived from the flowering ash plant. Once dried and ground up, it bears a sweet taste and is often added to powdered cocaine as a neutralizer. Also known as a baby laxative, one of the main side-effects of snorting cocaine mixed with mannitol includes mild to severe cases of diarrhoea. Mannitol is also known as an adulterant or filler, which serves two purposes: one as a neutralizer and the other, increasing the weight of the drug to maximize profits for dealers.
Simple sugars such as dextrose and lactose (a milk sugar) are commonly found in adulterated cocaine shipments. Used chiefly as fillers and/or neutralizers, these substances present very few or no dangers at all if imbibed through the nostrils.
Lidocaine is a powdery white substance also used for cutting cocaine; in liquid form, it is used in dental offices and hospitals as an anaesthetic or numbing agent, which can produce the same numbing effect when added to cocaine. Lidocaine is generally harmless when used in smaller doses; much like lidocaine, benzocaine and procaine belong to the same group of analgesics and numbing agents that have no apparent lasting side-effects. These three caines are also known as substitutes, as they are capable of mirroring the numbing effects of cocaine.
Phenacetin is still being used to cut cocaine, yet clinical research suggests that its side-effects on the human body can become quite serious in nature. Originally used as a painkiller, phenacetin has been linked to various types of cancer, renal failure, and other kidney-related disorders. As a result, phenacetin has been a banned substance in many first-world nations since the late twentieth century, yet it is still sold on the black market in large quantities.
Cocaine can also be cut with amphetamines, given that the type of amphetamine used resembles a white powdery substance; illegally manufactured speed or crank fall into this category. Aside from the stimuli provided by the cocaine, these mixtures can elevate blood pressure and heart rate levels significantly.
More recently, Levamisole is being widely used as a cocaine adulterant; its intended functions are geared towards de-worming livestock and as an anti-parasitic deterrent for aquarium fish, yet it is also known for suppressing the growth of malignant cancerous cells in humans. When blended with cocaine and snorted, the risks of immune system suppression and developing cardiovascular toxicity are seemingly apparent, yet further research may be required to validate these postulations.
Acetaminophen can also be used to buffer cocaine and is commonly synonymous with Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain relief and/or fever-reducing medications. Aspirin, whether generic or otherwise, can also add extra weight to and further reduce the purity of any given cocaine shipment.
Caffeine ranks somewhere in the middle of frequently used cocaine adulterants, which can also act as a deceptive substitute, given the fact that its natural stimulant properties coincide with adding an energetic boost to the system.
Boric acid, commonly used as an insecticide, has also been found in seized shipments of cocaine. One of the primary reasons for using boric acid is cosmetic, as the compound often resembles the appearance of cocaine crystals. Known for being highly poisonous, huffing boric acid-laced cocaine can cause a number of neurological and physical disorders to occur.