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Cocaine Identification: How to Identify Cocaine in Its Different Forms

a man sits and takes note as a woman talks to him about the benefits of inpatient cocaine addiction treatment

In Mississippi over the last few decades, the widespread issue of cocaine addiction has been impossible to ignore. From Southaven to Biloxi cocaine continues to be a popular drug of use.  A lot of pieces of pop culture lead us to believe that the consumption of cocaine represents luxury, glamour, and the “rockstar” lifestyle. This false narrative hides the ugly reality: cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug that can ravage the body and mind of people who consume it. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 15% of American adults have tried some form of cocaine at least once. While a majority of these people will not end up with a harmful cocaine habit, this helps us get a better idea of the actual scope of the issue in the United States. Cocaine addiction treatment and being able to identify cocaine in its different forms can help you ensure that a loved one doesn’t continue down the path toward harmful substance addiction.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine hydrochloride, or simply cocaine, is a stimulant drug that is processed from the South American coca plant. Humans have been consuming the leaves of the coca plant (Erythroxylon coca) dating back thousands of years when South American natives would chew on the leaves to experience their stimulant effects. Doctors in the early 20th century would even utilize cocaine as a local anesthetic because of its numbing effect on the skin. While cocaine as we know it has been around since the early 1900s, we saw a massive influx of the drug into the streets of Mississippi and across the United States during the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. During these decades, cocaine became big business, leading to a sharp increase in the number of drug traffickers. Cocaine sold as a drug goes by many names in the cities and towns of Mississippi, commonly called street names. Some of these street names include:

  • Coke
  • Snow
  • Blow
  • C
  • Yayo
  • Powder

During the 1980s, we also saw the widespread distribution of cocaine in a new form called “crack cocaine” or simply “crack.” This form of the drug is produced when pure cocaine is mixed with baking soda and water, then heated up to create a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction causes the substances to seize up into a hard disk that is broken up and sold.

What Does Cocaine Look Like?

The most common form of cocaine that is shown in popular media is a fine, white powder. It can also come in the form of tan, pinkish, or grey powder as well. In the case of crack cocaine, the drug will come in the form of grey, tan, or white pebbles or “rocks.”

How Is Cocaine Consumed?

Cocaine in powder form is most commonly consumed by snorting it up the nostril. The drug enters the bloodstream through the mucous membranes in the sinuses, leading to a rapid onset of the drug’s effects. Cocaine can also be dissolved in a liquid solution and injected into the veins. This method of ingestion is particularly dangerous and very often leads to a cocaine overdose. Cocaine can also be smoked, especially when it has been processed into crack cocaine. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound the drug makes as it’s heated up and smoked.

What Does Cocaine Smell Like?

The process of creating powdered cocaine from the leaves of the coca plant involves using industrial solvents such as gasoline. Often, residual odor from these solvents remains on the powder itself. Some people have described cocaine as smelling like ozone or “electricity,” similar to the smell that occurs when lightning strikes nearby. Because cocaine can enter the bloodstream through the mucous membranes of the nose, it is never recommended that you attempt to identify cocaine by smell.

The Dangers of “Cut” Cocaine

The danger of cocaine, as well as many other street drugs, is that there is no way of telling what the white powder has been “cut” with. “Cutting” the drug is the process of mixing pure cocaine with inactive substances that don’t add to the stimulant effects of the cocaine but do increase the weight and volume. Street dealers will use this technique to increase their profit margin. Some common substances used to cut cocaine include:

  • Talcum powder
  • Powdered sugar
  • Corn starch

Sometimes, substances that add to the drug’s effects, strength, and danger are mixed with cocaine. Some of these dangerous substances include:

  • Procaine (a local anesthetic that mimics the numbing effect of cocaine)
  • Various amphetamines (other stimulant drugs — “uppers” or “speed” — that increase the strength of cocaine)
  • Heroin and other opioids (in what is known as a “speedball”)

Cocaine Laced with Fentanyl

Over the last decade or so, more and more overdose deaths have been caused by cocaine that is laced with fentanyl. Fentanyl is a Schedule II synthetic opioid drug that is reported to be 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine. A fatal dose of fentanyl is around the 2-milligram range, meaning that it takes a very small amount of the drug to lead to a fatal overdose. Because of this, scientists have created strips that test for fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

Cocaine Rehab Starts with Detox

Rehab for cocaine addiction starts with detox. While detoxing from cocaine is not as dangerous as detoxing from other drugs, it can still be extremely uncomfortable and require medical supervision. At Woodland Recovery Center, our goal is to help the detox process along by making it as comfortable as possible. Many people who habitually consume cocaine also consume other harmful substances, particularly alcohol. Many find that the sedative effects of alcohol help to combat the cocaine “come down.” The cocaine detox process is more complicated if the person is also addicted to alcohol or other substances. That’s where our compassionate medical professionals come in. Our staff is well-experienced in dealing with the complications that come along with polysubstance addictions. Not only can detoxing at our cocaine addiction treatment center in Mississippi help reduce the intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms, but our controlled environment also provides support for the psychological effects that can often keep someone from successfully completing this process. Our team will help you decide if a formal cocaine detox is necessary.

Reclaim Your Health from the Grips of Cocaine Addiction

If you or someone you care about is looking for cocaine addiction treatment in Mississippi, we are here for you. With a wide range of care options, we can help people through every stage of their recovery journey. To learn more or to get started, contact us today at (888) 956-6369.