What is Cocaine Made Of?

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive and illegal stimulant that is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America.

The Foundation for a Drug-Free World reports that cocaine is the second most trafficked substance of all the illegal drugs, and to date, 756 metric tons of it have been intercepted and seized by various international law enforcement agencies. Cocaine is rarely sold in its purest form because producing it is a fairly labor-intensive process, and individual manufacturers want to make as much money as possible from each batch of the drug.

American Addiction Centers provides 24-hour professional medical detox and treatment in a comfortable and supportive environment. If you are struggling with cocaine misuse or addiction, please reach out to one of our admissions navigators at right now. 

Where Does Cocaine Come From?

As mentioned briefly above, cocaine is derived from the coca plant, which can be found in several South American countries. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Colombia is the main producer of cocaine, but Peru, Bolivia, and Chile also make and distribute significant amounts of the drug. Today, despite more resources than ever before, cocaine is still being produced in South American countries, as it remains illegal to grow coca plants in the United States. Plus, the environment throughout the U.S. is not conducive to growing these plants, which is why it usually comes from outside sources, such as other countries.

What is Cocaine Made Of?

All cocaine contains the extracts of the erythroxylum coca plant’s leaves, as well as some form of cutting agent. This cutting agent can vary based on who is producing the cocaine, but often includes talcum powder, sugar, baking soda, caffeine, or even other addictive substances like heroin or fentanyl.

How Is Cocaine Made?

There are essentially three main steps to making cocaine. After the leaves are harvested and soaked, the base for the powdered drug is extracted through one of two extraction methods, and the resulting crystallized substance is dried into bricks. Here is a more detailed step-by-step process for making cocaine:

  • Step 1: Workers harvest the coca leaves.
  • Step 2: The leaves are soaked in gasoline.
  • Step 3: The gasoline is drained.
  • Step 4: The cocaine base is dried.
  • Step 5: The dried substance is dissolved in a solvent.
  • Step 6: Excess solvents are removed, and it is dried into bricks.

Cocaine Additives

People who purchase cocaine off the street — which is essentially the only option that most users have — are rarely getting pure cocaine. The drug is typically diluted with at least one foreign substance during the manufacturing process to increase profits, and additional substances may be added at every step of the distribution process. For example, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the typical purity of cocaine found in the United Kingdom in 2012 was less than 40 percent. Some of the substances used to dilute cocaine, like baking soda, are essentially harmless, but other times, potentially harmful drugs, like levamisole, are added to the final product.

Street cocaine comes with 60% mixture of baking soda or Levamisole

Levamisole is an anthelminthic that is used to kill parasitic worms in livestock. According to a report originally published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, complications associated with levamisole-laced cocaine include:

  • Neutropenia, or a low count of white blood cells called neutrophils.
  • Agranulocytosis, which is a deficiency of granulocytes in the blood and can lead to an increased risk of infection.
  • Joint pain.
  • Skin lesions.
  • Skin necrosis.

Instead of diluting their stash of cocaine, some distributors and dealers prefer to use it to create crack cocaine, which is the crystal form of cocaine and can be made from facilitating a chemical reaction between powder cocaine and baking soda.

Getting Help for Cocaine Addiction

Learning what is in cocaine hopefully will make some of its users pause before using again. If you or a loved one are ready to give up cocaine, we’re here for you. Give us a call at to be connected with one of our rehab admissions navigators who can answer any questions you have, including those about insurance and how to pay for rehab. We can also inform you about our levels of care, including medical detox and inpatient treatment and whether or not our programming is right for you.

Both cocaine and crack cocaine are incredibly addictive, but if you or a loved one is struggling with a dependence on either, it is never too late to seek help. Contact our inpatient rehab in New Jersey right now to get the help you or your loved one deserves.


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