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Identifying Cocaine: What You Should Know

The ability to identify drugs can be a powerful tool to have at your disposal.

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What if you were offered an unfamiliar substance at a party? Or what if you found some questionable residue around the house indicating a loved one could be battling a substance use disorder?

For this blog, we’re going to examine cocaine and how you can identify it and its effects.

No matter how much cocaine is ingested, it can be dangerous, and it’s no secret that you can develop an addiction.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Cocaine speeds up your whole body. You may feel full of energy, happy, and excited. But then your mood can change. You can become angry, nervous, and afraid that someone’s out to get you. You might do things that make no sense. After the high of the cocaine wears off, you can crash and feel tired and sad for days. You also get a strong craving to take the drug again to try to feel better.”

Cocaine is currently a Schedule II controlled substance in the United States, which means it has a high potential for misuse that may lead to severe dependence. While cocaine has been used for medical purposes in the past, it is rarely used that way today.

Let’s take a look at a quick list of identifiers you may find helpful if you believe you or someone you know has come in close contact with, or developed an addiction to, cocaine.

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1) Spotting Powdered Cocaine

Cocaine is typically identified as a white, crystalline powder.

Powdered cocaine is typically snorted through the nose or rubbed into the gums. Some people may also dissolve the powder in water and inject it into their bloodstream.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), people often mix cocaine with things like cornstarch, talcum powder, or flour to stretch the cocaine and increase their profits. Cocaine can also be mixed with other dangerous drugs, such as the stimulant amphetamine or synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Since synthetic opioids are hard to spot when mixed with cocaine, they can lead to potentially fatal overdoses.

Similarly, cocaine is sometimes mixed with heroin to create what is known as a “speedball.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the cocaine manufacturing process takes place in remote labs where the cocaine undergoes a series of chemical transformations. Today, Colombia produces about 90% of the cocaine powder reaching the United States. Cocaine entering the U.S. usually comes through Mexico.

2) Recognizing Crack Cocaine

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Crack cocaine, simply known as crack, comes in the form of what are called “rocks” due to their hard texture. They can come in shades of colors such as white, yellow, brown, and pink.

Crack is made by mixing cocaine with water and baking soda, and the resulting mixture is dried and broken into chunks.

There are differing reports as to what crack smells like. Some report a burnt plastic smell, while others say there really is no typical aroma.

Crack rocks vary in size but are usually smaller than a penny.

Crack is usually smoked through a glass pipe, or what’s known as a crack pipe. Crack pipes usually have a small bulb at the end of them, and if used, they can have a brownish residue left inside of them.

Much like the powdered form, crack cocaine can be mixed with other drugs like marijuana and heroin.

3) Street Names for Cocaine

In some cases, the sale, purchase, or use of cocaine can be disguised by using street names.

According to the DEA, street terms for cocaine include:

  • Coca
  • Crack
  • Coke
  • Crank
  • Flake
  • Rock
  • Snow
  • Soda Cot

While these are just a few common names for the drug, it should be noted that other names can be and are used.

4) The Effects of Cocaine

Many people who take cocaine do so to increase the levels of dopamine (the feel-good chemical) in the brain.

The NIH explains, ”Normally, dopamine recycles back into the cell that released it, shutting off the signal between nerve cells. However, cocaine prevents dopamine from being recycled, causing large amounts to build up in the space between two nerve cells, stopping their normal communication. This flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit strongly reinforces drug-taking behaviors.”

Over time, you may need to consume more cocaine to achieve the desired high, which is why it can be so dangerous.

Other short-term effects of cocaine can include:

  • Extreme happiness
  • High energy levels
  • Mental alertness

The high from snorting cocaine usually lasts between 15 and 30 minutes, while the high from smoking crack cocaine can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.

Long-term effects may include:

  • Nosebleeds (from snorting)
  • Asthma and other respiratory (breathing) problems (from smoking)
  • Coughing (from smoking)
  • Loss of smell (from snorting)
  • Higher risk of infections (from smoking)

More serious side effects of cocaine use include heart attack and stroke.

5) Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Whether it’s you or a loved one battling an addiction to either form or cocaine, the earlier it’s spotted, the better.

Signs of addiction are:

  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Poor job performance
  • Inability to stop using the drug
  • Strained relationships
  • Financial problems
  • Excessive time spent using the drug

Cocaine addiction can also put you at a higher risk of an overdose. Overdose can be identified by a high body temperature, loss of body control, irregular heartbeat, and difficulty breathing.

6) Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal occurs when someone who regularly takes the drug stops. This happens because the brain is trying to learn to function without it.

Cocaine withdrawal typically produces the opposite effects of its high. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Decreased energy levels

Get the Help You Need Today

Here at Vertava Health Ohio, we understand your situation is unique, which is why we create treatment plans just for you.

Our inpatient cocaine rehab program will address the symptoms of your addiction and daily-life contributors that may affect it. We use evidence-based treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy to help change thoughts and behaviors that lead to unwanted or unhealthy habits.

We also offer recreational activities as a healthy alternative to cocaine use.

No one should ever have to face addiction alone. Whether it’s you or a loved one, we’re here to help every step of the way.

Don’t let addiction control your life. Call us today at (888) 481-7821.

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