The Chemicals in Street Cocaine
Cocaine in Australia has an average purity of 20 per cent – so what’s in the other 80?
Most cocaine users know their coke is cut with fillers at some point in the production process, but you may be alarmed to find out to what extent, and with what substances.
Cocaine is adulterated at virtually every step in the supply chain as everyone from suppliers to distributors to street-level dealers are eager to increase their cut. Each time cocaine changes hands, substances are added to increase its volume and create a false semblance of potency. By the time it reaches you in Australia it has been transported at least twice, then cut (even more significantly) by local dealers. Cocaine purity levels in Australia are often as low as 9 per cent.
So what are you snorting?
Levamisole, a dewormer that used to be used for humans but is now only used for livestock as it has been found to cause an HIV-like autoimmune disorder called agranulocytosis, is becoming an increasingly popular cocaine adulterant. Levamisole also causes vasculitis, which causes the skin to turn black and manifest legions in some cases. This is the drug behind the flesh-eating cocaine scare.
Coke also typically contains caffeine, benzocaine or lidocaine to replicate its anesthetic and stimulant effects. Each of these additives, of course, comes with its own set of side effects.