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What is Cocaine Cut With?: Adulterants & Cutting Agents

Posted on November 13, 2023

What is Cocaine Cut With?: Adulterants & Cutting Agents

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that is illegal in the UK. Some nicknames you may have heard for cocaine are: Coke, Charlie, sniff, crack, rocks, percy, flake, blow, white, snow, and stones.

Some of these nicknames come from the different types of cocaine, which are crack, freebase, and coke.

Crack looks like small lumps of powder, which is why it is also known as ‘rocks’. Freebase is a crystallised powder, and coke is a fine white powder. As for the smell, crack cocaine has been compared to burnt rubber, while cocaine powder could be described as bitter.

Cocaine is used recreationally due to the ‘high’ it produces. It is usually split into lines and snorted, but it can also be injected or smoked. All of these methods are dangerous, but injecting cocaine is the riskiest.

In terms of the effects of cocaine, they are usually felt within five minutes to half an hour, and they last up to half an hour.

Finally, if you possess cocaine in the UK, you face up to 7 years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both. If you supply cocaine, you face life in prison, an unlimited fine, or both (1).

What are the Symptoms Of Cocaine Use?

Most people experience euphoria when they use cocaine, and this is often their reason behind taking it. For this reason, cocaine is often viewed as a ‘party drug’.

Some other symptoms of cocaine use can be: decreased appetite, irritability, restlessness, dilated pupils, headaches, nosebleeds, mood swings, hypertension, paranoia, increased energy, and sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch.

Long-term cocaine use, or bingeing cocaine, can lead to: lung damage, seizures, heart problems, delusions, sexual problems, bowel decay, hallucinations, and HIV.

What are the Statistics Of Cocaine Use in the UK?

Cocaine is one of the most common illegal substances used in the UK. This country even has the title of the highest cocaine rates in Europe.

In 2017-2018, 2.6% of people aged 16-59 used powdered cocaine, whereas the figure was only 2.4% in 2013-2014 (2). As for crack cocaine, the prevalence in 2017-2018 was 0.1%.

The year-on-year rise of cocaine use has been recorded at 15% between 2008-09 and 2018-2019 (3).

The people who are most likely to use cocaine are young adults, and this applies in the UK, Europe, and the US. 10% of young people in a treatment facility are recovering from a cocaine addiction (4).

Cocaine use is also extremely high among drug users in the UK, with 70% of this group using cocaine (5).

What are the Statistics Of Cocaine Deaths in the UK?

Deaths from cocaine have been on the rise in the UK since 2012. In 2012, there were 139 deaths from cocaine, which rose to 371 in 2016, and 840 in 2021 (6).

How Did the Pandemic Affect Cocaine Use?

Snorting drugs with a dollar bill

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us were more isolated than ever before. This led to a spike in drug use, and cocaine was no exception.

Many people became depressed at the prospect of not being around other people and not having anything to look forward to, and they turned to cocaine as a way of experiencing joy.

Another reason cocaine use may have spiked during the pandemic is that it was much easier for drug users to hide their behaviour from others (7). They didn’t have to get sober before family gatherings or even work, so they had less of a reason to avoid cocaine.

It is true that some people reduced their cocaine use over lockdown, as it was harder to access drugs, they faced less peer pressure, and they may have felt generally less stressed by not having to commute to work or attend social events they didn’t want to go to.

However, they are in the minority.

Why is Cocaine Dangerous?

Cocaine is dangerous because you cannot predict how you will react to it. Some people can take cocaine over many years and they never experience serious illness. However, others can use cocaine just once, and go into cardiac arrest (8).

Another reason cocaine is so dangerous is that it is highly addictive for lots of people. You may become dependent on the drug after using it just once or twice, which is not the same for every drug. This may partly explain the high cocaine use statistics in the UK.

Finally, you are putting your body under a lot of stress when you use cocaine over a long period of time.

Not only could you develop heart problems, as we have already mentioned, but you are risking:

  • High blood pressure
  • Overdose
  • Psychosis
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Seizures
  • Memory issues
  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory problems
  • Nose collapse
  • Panic attacks
  • Slow reaction times
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Concentration issues

Does Cocaine Have a Medical Use?

medically assisted detox

Yes, cocaine has a medical use. It is sometimes used as an anaesthetic. It used to be used to treat pain caused by a wide variety of illnesses, but this was stopped due to the risk of cocaine dependency in patients.

Cocaine-based sprays are also sometimes used to treat nosebleeds, or to numb the nose before surgery. This will only ever happen in a medical setting, as doctors cannot prescribe medications with cocaine to patients.

Can Cocaine Be Laced?

Yes, cocaine can be laced. This is another potential danger of using cocaine; you don’t know whether it might have been cut with another substance that is more addictive and/or riskier.

Even if the other substance is not as dangerous as cocaine, you are putting yourself more at risk by mixing substances.

What is Cocaine Cut With?

Cocaine can be laced with other substances, which are known as cutting agents in this context. There are three types of cutting agent: diluants (which reduce the amount of active ingredient), contaminants (by-products of the drug production), and adulterants (added ingredients to produce a greater effect).

Some cutting agents do not pose a threat to your life, but they are not good for you. These include: laxatives, laundry detergent, talcum powder, creatine, local anaesthetics, baking soda, boric acid, flour, and caffeine.

Cocaine can also be cut with other addictive substances, such as amphetamines. This increases the risk of dangerous symptoms, withdrawal symptoms, addiction, and death.

Another substance that has been associated with cocaine is levamisole, which treats parasitic worm infections in animals. When cocaine is cut with levamisole, it weakens the immune system and can lead to severe infection.

Finally, in recent years, there has been a spike in people using cocaine that has been laced with fentanyl, a highly addictive opioid, particularly in the US. However, the problem is certainly not non-existent in the UK, as it is very easy to cut cocaine with fentanyl (9).

Fortunately, cocaine is currently purer than it ever was, so it is less likely to be cut with other substances. However, there are more cutting agents available than in the past (10).

How Can You Tell When Cocaine is Laced?


It is very difficult to find out whether your cocaine has been laced. Most substances that cocaine is cut with are also white powders, so they are disguised in cocaine.

This is one reason to avoid cocaine use; you are risking a drastic reaction to cocaine every time you take it, not only because it is a dangerous, addictive drug, but because you will not know whether it has been cut with another harmful substance.

You can check whether cocaine is laced with a particular substance by getting a drug testing kit. However, this would only rule out one substance.

Home Detoxing For Cocaine Addiction

If you are addicted to cocaine, you could have a home detox, and this could take away your physical symptoms within a week. This of course depends on how severe your problem is, and how long you have been using cocaine for, as the symptoms can persist for longer in more chronic addictions.

You will have to deal with withdrawal symptoms when you detox from cocaine, but they will be reduced if you take the medication prescribed to you, and if you adopt healthy habits during the detox e.g., sleeping well, drinking lots of water, eating healthily, and resting.

Outpatient Treatment For Cocaine Addiction

For people with a more complex or severe cocaine problem, outpatient treatment is going to be more effective than a home detox, as there is the addition of therapy. The vast majority of cocaine users experience psychological symptoms of addiction, and going to therapy can help to reduce or eradicate them.

It is also better for people with a more severe addiction to be monitored while they have their detox, rather than to do it alone. This is because they will receive medical attention much quicker if they start to experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures.

Private Rehab For Cocaine Addiction

A blue and neutrally decorated bedroom

Many people in the UK attend private rehab for a cocaine addiction, so if you choose this option, you are likely to meet other people at rehab who have struggled with the same problem.

Rehab usually involves a personalised treatment plan with an initial medical detox and regular therapy sessions, both on your own and with other patients. This lasts around 28 days, unless you decide to skip either the detox or therapy.

A full 28-day stay at drug and alcohol rehab is the most expensive option for cocaine addiction treatment, but it is also the most effective. If you choose a low cost option, you could end up losing more money overall if you relapse and seek further treatment.

To find out which rehabs near you treat cocaine addiction, contact us on 0880 088 66 86 or fill out this form for free advice.

To meet our team, head to this page, where you will find information about our CEO, holistic therapist, head of content strategy, head of admissions, and consultant psychiatrist.

FAQs About Cocaine Rehab

Below, we offer some FAQs about the cocaine rehab process:

1. Where are cocaine rehabs located?

There are rehabs that are equipped to treat cocaine addiction all over the UK. If you live in a big city, the availability is likely to be wider, but there are still cocaine rehabs in small towns and villages.

Most cocaine rehabs will be in a quiet area, so even if they are in a big city, they will most likely be located on the outskirts. This provides patients with more privacy, and it allows them to relax at the treatment centre without the noise of the big city.

How can I register my interest in cocaine rehab?

The easiest option is to get in touch with us and allow us to do all of the research for you. As we are a referral service, we will listen to your needs and match you with a fitting cocaine rehab in your desired location.

However, if you want to arrange your rehab stay alone, you can research the treatment centres in your chosen area, and contact them to ask about their facilities and their treatment.

Please keep in mind that there are some rehab scams, and if you ask us to complete a referral for you, you will not be a victim of a scam. This is because we only work with official rehab facilities with excellent treatment results.

If you are researching rehabs on your own, make sure to read the reviews of the rehab facility, and do not just read the reviews on the website. If you know someone who has spent time at rehab, your best bet is to speak to them to see if they would recommend their facility.

Are there rehab facilities just for cocaine addiction?

There do not tend to be rehab facilities in the UK that are designed for just one addiction, including cocaine addiction. This is because the treatment provided by rehab centres is sufficient for every addiction. The only difference is that some substances do not require a detox, and others do.

This means that you have more options for treatment, as you do not have to find a rehab that specialises in cocaine addiction. However, if you want to ensure a prospective private rehab has treated cocaine addiction in the past, or currently, we can find this out for you.

Could I go to self-help meetings instead?

No one can force you into inpatient treatment, so you can make the decision to go to self-help meetings instead. However, if you do this, you would have to accept that your chances of recovery would be much lower.

This is because there is a greater risk of relapse when you are only attending meetings every so often, rather than having daily meetings at rehab. Self-help meetings can be great for accountability, but it is too easy for you to slip away and return to your addiction without anyone knowing.

A better decision would be to find a self-help meeting that you can attend when you leave rehab. At this point, you would be in a stronger position to resist temptation, so regular self-help meetings may be all you need to stay sober.

In fact, you could request that self-help meetings are a part of your aftercare plan. The rehab you attend could help you to find a self-help meeting for drugs, or even specifically cocaine, in your area. Some popular self-help groups are: Narcotics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and 12-step.

Will there be individual therapy at cocaine rehab?

Yes, there will definitely be individual therapy at cocaine rehab. This is combined with group therapy, and sometimes family therapy. Individual therapy gives you privacy to talk about deep, personal issues that you may not want to disclose in a group setting.

It is also a great opportunity to discuss the struggles you have that are related to cocaine. While in a group setting you may want to stick to talk about temptation, withdrawal, and relapse, you may prefer to discuss things like abuse, trauma, neglect, grief, and guilt in your individual therapy sessions.

Can I stay active at cocaine rehab?

Yes, you can definitely stay active at cocaine rehab, and this will be heavily encouraged. Many drug rehabs have gyms that you can go to every day, and sports facilities to enjoy in the allocated leisure time.

What’s more, plenty of cocaine rehabs have large grounds for people who would rather stick to a daily stroll than an intense gym session.

What is the food like at cocaine rehab?

As there is an emphasis on healthy living at rehab, the meals are all homecooked and healthy. You will get three of these meals a day, which will keep you nourished as you tackle the long days filled with therapy sessions, exercise, and socialising.

The food is different at every rehab facility, which is why it is so important to research each centre before you select one. You can ask to see a sample of a weekly menu, photos of the food, and descriptions of the types of food they serve.

It is also important to mention if you have any allergies so the facility can accommodate you appropriately.

Can my family visit me at cocaine rehab?

Often, your family will be allowed to visit you at cocaine rehab. However, they will not be able to pop in whenever they wish, as there will be set visiting times. If you are allowed to take devices in with you, you can keep in touch with your family over the phone.

On the other hand, sometimes rehab facilities do not allow family visits or devices, so you would have to prepare to be completely away from home for 28 days. If you would not be comfortable with this arrangement, you can request to attend a rehab centre that allows family visits, or even family therapy.


[1] Drugs penalties

[2] The white stuff: why Britain can’t get enough cocaine

[3] Just How Serious is the UK’s Cocaine Addiction?

[4] Young people’s substance misuse treatment statistics 2019 to 2020: report


[6] Number of drug-related deaths due to cocaine use in England and Wales from 1993 to 2021

[7] ‘It could get really messy’: Finance workers’ cocaine use spikes in lockdown

[8] What Effects Does Cocaine Use Have on Your Heart?

[9] Is Britain heading for an opioid crisis?

[10] Cocaine Insights 2021 2

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