Cutting cocaine may help drug dealers’ bottom line, but it can be extremely risky for addicted people because they don’t know what is going into their bodies.

Learning how to cut cocaine is something most drug dealers do, and there’s a good reason for that. It allows dealers to increase their profits, often at their customers’ expense. Cutting cocaine may help drug dealers’ bottom line, but it can be extremely risky for users that don’t know what’s going into their bodies. Know the dangers of cocaine cutting agents and what people commonly cut cocaine with.

Cutting cocaine may be beneficial for drug dealers and their bottom line, but it can be extremely risky for people who use their drugs because they don’t know what is actually in the cocaine they’re using.

Cut Cocaine Can Be Even More Deadly

Using cocaine that’s cut with other drugs or substances can be fatal as it increases the risk of negative side effects and overdose. It also makes it harder to treat an overdose when a hospital or rehab center’s medical team can’t immediately know what was taken without tests.

Article at a Glance:

  • By itself, cocaine is a risky and often deadly substance to use.
  • Combining it with cocaine cutting agents adds more risk and unpredictability.
  • Cocaine can be cut with a wide variety of agents, ranging from methylphenidate and amphetamine to creatine and laundry detergent.
  • Because most people do not test the cocaine they buy on the streets, they’re ultimately gambling in a very dangerous way.
  • As pure cocaine becomes increasingly less common, cocaine cuts are a growing problem that contributes to more dangers and deaths.

How Pure Is Most Cocaine?

The majority of cocaine sold on the streets is cut with other substances and does contain impurities. The objective of cutting cocaine is to add weight, ultimately sell less cocaine, and get the most amount of money. In 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration recorded the average purity level of seized cocaine was only 61.5%.

The variation in substances cocaine is cut with makes it even more dangerous than it otherwise is. There is no way to determine if the cocaine you purchase has other things added to it.

What Is Cocaine Cut With?

There are multiple ingredients used to cut cocaine, some are more dangerous than others. For example –

Cutting Cocaine with Visual Additivities or Dilutants

The primary objective of these cutting agents is to make it appear as if someone is buying more cocaine than they actually are. These substances aren’t intended to change the overall effects of the drug. Some of the most common visual additives include:

  • Laxatives
  • Caffeine
  • Creatine
  • Laundry detergent

Sometimes boric acid is used for cutting cocaine, as are local anesthetics. These items are selected as cutting agents because they come in white powder form, so it’s essentially impossible to determine if they’ve been added to street drugs.

The agents listed above aren’t always harmful, but they can eventually be over time and cause additional health problems beyond the risks of the cocaine itself. For example, if you’re regularly ingesting laundry detergent, it can build up in the arteries and cause blockages that affect the liver, brain, or heart.

Cutting Cocaine with Other Drugs or Chemicals

Other stimulants may be used as cutting agents, such as caffeinemethylphenidate, and amphetamine. Since cocaine is also a stimulant, these agents can cause the drugs’ effects to be more noticeable, even when there’s less of the actual cocaine.

Local anesthetics can include things like procaine and lidocaine, and they have a numbing effect. They don’t taste any different than cocaine, which is why they’re often used to cut cocaine.

It may also be cut with levamisole, which is used to kill parasites and deworm animals. This substance is included because it has effects similar to a stimulant and it’s inexpensive. Levamisole is toxic to humans and can lead to painful skin lesions, skin necrosis (death), renal failure, and seizures.

These aren’t the only things used as cutting agents, but they are some of the most common.  It’s also possible that dealers are cutting cocaine with other illegal drugs like marijuanaheroinLSD, and PCP, which can change or heighten the cocaine’s adverse effects.

If you or a loved one live with cocaine addiction or are using the drug recreationally and want to stop, it’s time to seek professional help. The Recovery Village provides care to those struggling with substance abuse. Reach outto one of our knowledgeable representatives today to learn how you can start on your path to recovery.

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Editor – Melissa Carmona
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN
Benjamin Caleb Williams is a board-certified Emergency Nurse with several years of clinical experience, including supervisory roles within the ICU and ER settings. Read more

U.S. Department of Justice. “2019 National Drug Threat Assessment.” December 2019. Accessed June 23, 2020.

Lee, Kachiu; et al. “Complications Associated With Use of Lev[…]ic Health Challenge.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, June 2012. Accessed June 23, 2020.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.