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What is Cocaine Cut With? Adulterants & Cutting Agents

3 min read · 6 sections

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is made from the leaves of the coca plant.1 top However, products sold as cocaine may be cut with different and potentially dangerous substances. 

This article will discuss the practice of cutting cocaine with different agents and additives, the risks of using cocaine, and how to find treatment.

Why is Cocaine Cut?

Drug manufacturers and dealers often cut cocaine with other substances to increase their profits by enabling them to sell a higher volume of product.2

The person who purchases cocaine may not be aware that they are buying cocaine cut with other substances.2 abstract This can place them at risk of using substances that can be harmful and possibly deadly.1,2

Can You Tell if Cocaine is Cut?

Adulterants in cocaine often have a color, taste, and consistency that is essentially indistinguishable from “pure” cocaine.2 Substances that dealers use as a cutting agent for cocaine are often chosen because they can mimic the bitter taste of cocaine, or because they have a similar melting point.2

For this reason, it is likely someone will not be able to tell if cocaine is cut with other substances, even ones such as fentanyl that dramatically increase the risk of fatal overdose.2,1

Forms of Cocaine

There are 2 main forms of cocaine that people use in different ways. This includes:2

  • The powder form of cocaine, which is typically snorted, injected, or consumed orally.
  • Crack cocaine, also known as freebase cocaine, which is a crystal or rock-like form of cocaine that is smoked.

Any type of cocaine can contain adulterants or cutting agents.2

Common Cocaine Cutting Agents & Additives

People who think they are using pure cocaine can actually be ingesting a wide range of substances, some of which are dangerous.2 According to a 2017 study published in The Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy, common cutting agents and additives found in cocaine include:2

  • Local anesthetics.
  • Amphetamines.
  • Synthetic cathinones (sometimes called “bath salts”).
  • Analgesics.
  • Caffeine.
  • Hydroxizine.
  • Levamisole.

Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine

Cocaine is increasingly being cut with fentanyl, a deadly opioid that is the driving force behind the overdose epidemic in the U.S.3

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.3 A white powder like cocaine, fentanyl is a relatively inexpensive drug to produce and distribute since it can be synthesized in clandestine labs (heroin and cocaine are derived from plants and usually arrive in the U.S. from overseas locations).4,6 

Fentanyl may be added to cocaine or other drugs to increase their potency. However, a very small amount can cause fatal overdose, especially when the person using the drug is unaware the product contains fentanyl.4

Risks of Using Cocaine

Whether it’s cut or not, using cocaine can cause serious health effects, such as:1

  • Constricted blood vessels.
  • Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
  • Bizarre or erratic behavior.
  • Restlessness, irritability, anxiety, or paranoia.
  • Tremors.
  • Vertigo.
  • Heart attack.
  • Headaches, seizures, strokes, and coma.
  • Infections like hepatitis C or HIV.
  • Decreased responses in the immune systems.7
  • Damage to organs in the body.
  • Overdose.

Chronic cocaine use over time can develop into stimulant use disorder, the clinical term for cocaine addiction.1

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

There are no medications approved to treat cocaine addiction, however there are other evidence-based methods that have helped many people with cocaine addiction get sober and remain in recovery.1 how is cocaine treated stimulant addiction can take place in various rehab settings, and can involve:

  • Various forms of behavioral therapy, which help people make positive changes to the thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that contribute to cocaine addiction.1,8
  • Peer support, such as participation in self-help groups like Cocaine Anonymous (CA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA).1

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is a leading provider of evidence-based treatment in the U.S., with rehabs located across the country. We offer medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, counseling, treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression or anxiety, and aftercare. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine addiction, please call to speak to a caring admissions navigator about your treatment options, or to ask any questions you may have about rehab. You can also verify your insurance coverage by filling out the confidential form below.


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2024, April 4). Cocaine.
  2. Kudlacek, O., Hofmaier, T., Luf, A., Mayer, F. P., Stockner, T., Nagy, C., Holy, M… & Sitte, H. H. (2017). Cocaine adulteration. Journal of chemical neuroanatomy, 83-84, 75–81.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2024, April 4). Fentanyl facts.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, June 1). Fentanyl drugfacts.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). The facts about fentanyl.
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Fentanyl test strips.
  7. Abbott, S., Apergis-Schoute, A. M., Döffinger, R., Ersche, K. D., Hagan, C. C., & Jones, P. S. (2014). Aberrant disgust responses and immune reactivity in cocaine-dependent men. Biological psychiatry, 75(2), 140–147.
  8. Kampman K. M. (2019). The treatment of cocaine use disorder. Science advances. 5(10): eaax1532.
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