Because of the euphoric high, extreme focus, and confidence boost they give users, both cocaine and crack cocaine are highly addictive and very dangerous street drugs. Despite this, many manufacturers and dealers will often cut the drugs they make and sell with other drugs or chemicals, many so toxic that they’ve caused poisoning and death among users. Others become cocaine abusers, with many seeking cocaine addiction treatment.
Why Are Cutting Agents Used?
There are many reasons that cocaine and crack dealers use cutting agents. Dealers who have just starting to sell a product might use a cutting agent to intensify the high so that customers will buy from them. Once they’re hooked, the dealers use less powerful cutting agents so that customers get less of a high from a dose than before, causing them to buy more from the dealers to get the same high.
Cutting agents are also used during times when fewer drugs are available from suppliers, due to interception and seizure at border crossings or when a major bust has occurred. This allows dealers to keep selling until their supplies are restored.
When a high number of drug seizures occur in a given year, the average purity of cocaine decreases, which increases the amounts of cutting agents used. Such was the case in 2008; according to the 2010 World Drug Report, the purity of street cocaine in North America was only around 56% due to a high number of seizures for that year.1
Common Cutting Agents Used as Stimulants and Dilutants
When a dealer wants to increase the intensity of the drugs they’re selling, stimulant cutting agents will be used. These stimulants are typically inexpensive and readily accessible. They are usually the same color and texture of cocaine. Stimulant cutting agents can include:
- Benzocaine and Lidocaine (pain relief medications)
Other street drugs like LSD, marijuana, and heroin can also be used as stimulant cutting agents. When dealers want to add bulk to the cocaine they’re selling to sell less of the drug for more money, they’ll often use the following agents, also known as visual dilutants, which also have the same appearance and texture of cocaine:
- Laundry detergent
- Boric acid
- Meat tenderizer
- Levamisole (a cattle dewormer)
Using cocaine that’s been cut with any substance can be dangerous, even if a cutting agent seems safe. Items like laundry detergent contain several chemicals and are not meant for ingestion. Even agents that can be ingested, such as caffeine and meat tenderizer, can burn the mucous membranes in the nose and can have a different effect on the body and brain when they are inhaled than when consumed orally.
No Cocaine Is Safe
Even without cutting agents, cocaine can be addictive or fatal even in small amounts. If someone you love or you are addicted to cocaine, BlueCrest Recovery Center’s cocaine outpatient program can help; learn more about our drug rehabilitation programs by calling (973) 298-5776.