What Does Cocaine Smell Like? Effects of Cocaine Addiction

Learn what cocaine smells and tastes like and what factors influence its taste, smell and taste including cutting agents and treatment options available for cocaine abuse. Read more about the treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with cocaine and crack addiction.

What Does Cocaine Smell Like?

Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous stimulant that has become one of the most abused drugs in the U.S. Cocaine is a dangerous and highly addictive stimulant that has become one of the most abused drugs in the U.S. Because of this, it is vital that anyone who is concerned they may have a loved one addicted to cocaine ask the question “what does cocaine smell like?”. Identifying the smell of cocaine can help you in pinpointing what sort of treatment your loved one needs.

What is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. For thousands of years, people in South America have chewed and ingested coca leaves (Erythroxylon coca) [1], the source of cocaine, for their stimulant effects. The purified chemical, cocaine hydrochloride, was isolated from the plant more than 100 years ago. In the early 1900s, purified cocaine was the main active ingredient in many tonics and elixirs developed to treat a wide variety of illnesses. Before the development of synthetic local anesthetic, surgeons used cocaine to block pain. However, research has since shown that cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance that can alter brain structure and function if used repeatedly.

Cocaine is also known as benzoylmethylecgonine [2]. Benzoylecgonine is the compound tested for in most substantive drug and alcohol tests. When combined, alcohol and cocaine can produce chemical reactions in the body that create a substance called cocaethylene — a byproduct of cocaine. This substance can increase the power of the effects and the risks of each substance – and can cause an overdose or death. This substance also stays around for a much longer time in the body than cocaine, and its toxic effects last longer.

What does pure cocaine smell like? The purity of the cocaine, as well as the chemicals, solvents, and additives combined into it, have a profound effect on the smell of the drug. Cocaine hydrochloride, for example, is sometimes used during certain types of nasal or throat-passage surgeries as an anesthetic. This means that taking a puff of cocaine may reduce your ability to ‘smell’ cocaine, as redundant as it sounds.

Factors that Influence the Smell of Cocaine

Cocaine Cutting Agents

What does cocaine smell like? Several cutting agents are used in the production of street-quality cocaine to reduce costs and alter the cocaine effects on the brain and body.

Some commonly used cocaine cutting agents include:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Creatine
  • Caffeine
  • Powdered local anesthetic such as procaine
  • Boric acid
  • Fentanyl
  • Laxatives

What does crack cocaine smell like? The smell of crack cocaine may be slightly different depending on the mixing of cutting agents and ingredients used to manufacture the cocaine base.

Difference Between Powder Vs. Crack Cocaine Smell

How does cocaine smell like? The smell of cocaine will be affected by the type of cocaine. Powder cocaine, which is normally snorted or dissolved into a solution and injected, is one form of the drug. Another form is freebase cocaine, which results from removing the hydrochloride from cocaine, leaving a solid, crystal rock that users smoke. This form is also known as crack cocaine.


Powder Cocaine Smell

What does pure cocaine smell like? Powder cocaine emits an almost sweet, flower-like scent. However, you may also pick up on scents of additives what does pure cocaine smell like which may give it a chemical-like or metallic odor. Common additives to cocaine include baking soda, corn starch, flour, talcum powder, and acetone or other solvents. The quick lime added to cocaine production can leave a chemical residue that smells like freshly cut limes.

Why does cocaine smell like gasoline? The smell of gasoline does not indicate purity, cocaine smells like gasoline indicates the manufacturers are cutting corners and using gasoline instead of e.g. Naptha or hexanes. Why does cocaine smells like vinegar? Most illegal drug traffickers and procurers cut cocaine with some of the same ingredients, including creatine, caffeine, benzocaine, laundry detergent, Novocain, and fentanyl. These additives and cutting agents can produce a wide range of cocaine smells like gas or vinegar.

Crack Cocaine Smell

What does crack cocaine smell like? When people smoke crack cocaine, they melt the solid rock and inhale the vapors. Some have associated this smell with burnt plastic, burnt rubber, or a skunky smell.  Some people report that crack cocaine smells like engine oil. The similarity between these two substances is due to their shared chemical composition. The odorous sulfuric acid is also added to cocaine when making crack cocaine. That can make cocaine smells like vinegar.

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Cocaine Addiction Statistics

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020. Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020. In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

5.2 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020

Source: NIH

1.3 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020.

Source: NIH


In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

Source: NIH

Cocaine Drug Fact Sheet


Cocaine is a stimulant drug obtained from the leaves of two Coca species native to South America, Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense.

Common Street Names for Cocaine

Cocaine base (smokable): Base, black rock, crack, electric kool-aid, rock, gravel, purple caps, Scotty, scramble, supercoke, twinkie, window pane, yam

Cocaine HCl: Aspirin, Big C, blow, coconut, coke, devil’s dandruff, flake, Florida snow, foo-foo dust, happy dust, lady, nose candy, white dragon, white lady, yao

Cocaine paste: Basuco, bazooka, pasta

Cocaine + heroin: Belushi, bipping, blanco, boy-girl, dynamite, goof ball, he-she, murder one, sandwich, snowball, speedball

Cocaine + marijuana: 51, banano, bazooka, blunt, C & M, candy sticks, caviar, champagne, cocktail, cocoa puff, crack bash, dirties, geek-joint, Greek, lace, P-dogs, premos, primo, Sherman stick, woo blunts, woolie

Cocaine + MDMA (ecstasy): Bumping up

Cocaine + MDMA + LSD: Candy flipping on a string

Cocaine + morphine: C & M

Cocaine + heroin + methamphetamine + flunitrazepam + alcohol: Five-way

Short Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Extreme happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Some long-term health effects of cocaine depend on the method of use and include the following:

  • snorting: loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing
  • smoking: cough, asthma, respiratory distress, and higher risk of infections like pneumonia
  • consuming by mouth: severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • needle injection: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, skin or soft tissue infections, as well as scarring or collapsed veins

How Does Pure Cocaine Taste Like?

Regardless of which additives, chemicals, and cutting agents are used in its production, cocaine always has a bitter and numbing taste, similar to that of peppercorns. The taste of cocaine is often described as bitter. The more bitter tasting the cocaine, the more potent the drug. While cocaine powder is not typically consumed in this manner, people will put cocaine in their mouths to check its purity. Specifically, a person will rub cocaine on their gums when checking purity.

Cocaine that has not been cut will typically numb the gum line when a small amount is rubbed across it. However, sometimes the cocaine will be cut with a numbing agent so that the result will be the same, and the person may have less pure cocaine without knowing it.

What Does Cocaine Look Like?

Whether it comes in a powder or rock form, cocaine tends to be an off-white to pinkish or beige color. Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, native to South America. The coca plant has to be processed to extract the cocaine from the plant. Usually, solvents or acids are used to remove the cocaine hydrochloride from the leaves.

What does coke smell like? Cocaine hydrochloride tends to be in varying shades of white, but this color can still be different than the cocaine that is sold on the streets. Many drug dealers add cutting agents to cocaine to increase profit or make cocaine seem more potent than other types of cocaine. This added substance can change the color of cocaine. Talcum powder or baby laxatives will make cocaine look white. Other substances, such as powdered caffeine or procaine, can change the hue of the drug significantly and make cocaine look less white.

What Does Cocaine Taste Like?

What does coke taste like? One of the most straightforward ways to identify cocaine is by the way it tastes. However, we never recommend that you taste cocaine to identify the drug. People usually describe the taste of cocaine as very tart and bitter. How does cocaine taste? Cocaine has a distinctive bitter taste and often causes numbing when it touches the mouth. Additives and fillers may change how it tastes or may mimic the flavor perfectly.

What is coke supposed to taste like? While people who use cocaine typically snort or inject cocaine. Why do people taste cocaine? Many taste cocaine to see how pure it is. How does cocaine taste in mouth? Others rub excess powder cocaine on their gums because it produces a numbing effect. The more potent and more pure cocaine is, the more bitter it will taste.

What does pure cocaine taste like? The purity level of cocaine is affected by a couple of factors, most especially by any additives or cutting agents that it contains. Common cutting agents for cocaine include talcum powder, fentanyl or other opioids, flour, corn starch, and laundry detergent. Cocaine can also be affected by substances or chemicals that were used during the manufacturing process. For example, if either kerosene or cement were involved in the production, the cocaine will then have more of a petroleum taste.

What Does Crack Taste Like?

The many forms of cocaine can make it difficult to identify. However, taste can play a key role in the identification process, even among different types of cocaine. For example, while all types of this drug have a bitter taste, freebase cocaine tends to be the most bitter. This can help differentiate it from pure cocaine, as they often look nearly identical. What does crack cocaine taste like? Crack cocaine, the rock formations of this drug, is rarely consumed orally, even for identification. However, it can be easily identified by the burnt plastic smell that is given off when it is smoked.

Snorting Cocaine 

Cocaine can be administered in a variety of different ways, including injection, smoking, and snorting (insufflation), but the third method is much more popular than the others. This may be due in part to the population of casual coke users — individuals tend to use cocaine on a whim at parties or buy it to have a good time on the weekend. Smoking or injecting the drug takes a more concrete commitment, which doesn’t hold with the casual nature of snorting coke.

Snorting cocaine has proven to be an effective way to experience a quick onset of the effects. The nasal passages are lined with blood vessels and are home to mucous membranes that aid in the absorption of cocaine into the bloodstream. This is also why opioid pain medications and other drugs may be crushed up and taken in the same manner.

With this drug, the substance quickly enters the bloodstream, cocaine causes the blood vessels to contract, stimulates the brain, and prompts the release of dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric feelings that make cocaine “high” a sought-after experience for users. Most people know that long-term cocaine use can have lasting effects on the brain, but what about in the short term? As it turns out, it doesn’t take long for the nose to be at risk.

Effects of Snorting Cocaine on Your Nose

It’s important to understand that you should never touch or smell any suspected illegal drugs without wearing gloves, or bringing the suspected drugs close to your face to smell, as you could inhale them. If they contain harmful additives such as fentanyl, this could have an adverse effect.

If you are snorting cocaine, you must understand that the nose has a fragile blood supply, which is shut off by cocaine use. This process is called vasoconstriction (closing off of blood vessels). When the blood vessels constrict, the blood supply is compromised, delivering less oxygen to the tissues of the septum. With low oxygen, the septum lining starts to die.

Nasal Perforation

Snorting cocaine has become a common form of drug abuse in the United States. Although cocaine can be administered through a variety of routes, the intranasal route is the most common. This preference for insufflation (snorting) exposes the nasal mucosa to the intense vasoconstrictive effects of cocaine and the myriad of caustic additives with which it is often mixed, thus causing varying degrees of damage to the nasal tract. These adverse effects range from pinhole perforation to different degrees of mucosal ulceration, destruction of septal cartilage, and in extreme cases, destruction of nasal and maxillary bones.

Indications of Deviated Septum

Repeated constriction of the blood vessels of the nasal mucosa leads to soft tissue and osteocartilaginous necrosis. The exposed septum (deviated septum from cocaine) may soon become infected, and if left untreated, the ensuing chondritis causes a septal perforation of varying size. With each repeated cocaine insufflation, this perforation expands. The perforated septum loses its supportive function and subsequently the nose collapses, retracts, and becomes shorter.

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Cocaine Addiction

Before cocaine addiction develops, users generally develop a physical dependency on the drug at the outset. The brain becomes physically dependent on the drugs within a short period after first starting crack. Once physical dependency sets in, users begin to experience cocaine withdrawal effects. With continued drug use, cocaine withdrawal symptoms worsen and happen more frequently.

Users will experience some cocaine withdrawal symptoms as soon as the initial high is gone. It is for this reason that cocaine addiction is considered high-risk. The cocaine user will need to use it again to overcome the “let down” of cocaine withdrawal after a “high”. As with most highly addictive substances, tolerance is built up with each use, and more is needed to achieve the same euphoric state that the user desires.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), a few criteria that may indicate a generalized crack use disorder (cocaine addiction) include:

  • Taking crack in more significant amounts or over a more extended period than intended
  • Craving, withdrawal, and tolerance
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to decrease or control crack use
  • Continued crack cocaine use despite social or interpersonal problems associated with its use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the crack effects
  • Recurrent cocaine use that results in problems at work, school, or home

If users meet two or more of these criteria, they likely have a crack use disorder and should seek the proper help from a professional.

Cocaine and Physical Addiction

Unlike heroin or other narcotics, cocaine has no outward physical withdrawal symptoms. Some users addicted to cocaine undergoing withdrawal have reported fatigue and sleep disturbances, but overall, cocaine’s addictive qualities may not occur in the body. While cocaine has no proven physically addictive qualities, it can still affect the body in other ways. 

Long-term use of cocaine may cause:

  • Cocaine overdose. In general, cocaine overdose depends on a person’s tolerance to cocaine. it takes a different dose of cocaine to cause an overdose in any person. Anything higher than five grams has been proven to cause heart attacks.
  • Cocaine and the heart. Cocaine use is always potentially deadly. The effects of crack cocaine increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. All of these changes strain your cardiovascular system.
  • Cocaine effects on the brain. Heavy cocaine use can lead to seizure disorders and other neurological conditions. Cocaine use slows the glucose metabolism in your brain as well. That can cause the neurons in your brain to work more slowly or die off.
  • Cocaine and depression. Cocaine use can cause damage to mental health. Cocaine directly interferes with dopamine being reabsorbed by neurons. One of the symptoms of a crack cocaine comedown is severe depression. 
  • Sex and cocaine. Cocaine is a potent dopamine agonist, and chronic crack abuse may result in hyperprolactinemia or a dopamine deficiency with sexual dysfunction. Crack cocaine and alcohol often leads to decreased libido and performance.
  • Cocaine perforated septum. A cocaine perforated septum or a “cocaine septum hole” is a condition that is commonly caused by sniffing or snorting cocaine through the nose.

Even sporadic use can lead to health complications such as high blood pressure, hardened arteries, bowel gangrene, and loss of gray matter in the brain due to the expansion of the brain’s reward center. Because cocaine eliminates appetite, many who use cocaine are also malnourished.

Cocaine and Mental Addiction

This is where cocaine hooks you because it all happens in your head. Cocaine interacts with dopamine receptors in the brain each time you use it, increasing dopamine levels and boosting the central nervous system. Cocaine is a drug that frequently results in overdosing, and high levels of use since users take more and more to attain the desired high, which can last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. The brain’s regular dopamine communication breaks down due to this frequent use. 

In the end, it alters how the brain processes rewards and prevents the user from appreciating the things in life that used to bring them joy, such as delicious food, the company of friends, or their preferred book or movie. Things they formerly enjoyed lost their importance, and they now only care about getting more cocaine and high to feel good. 

As a result, many cocaine users between highs or trying to quit might experience significant despair, leading to suicidal thoughts and the possibility of self-inflicted harm. Anxiety, agitation, hostility, irritability, paranoia, and mood changes are frequent withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine is sometimes referred to as the “rich man’s drug” therefore, people are psychologically and financially impacted. Due to the enormous costs, some become bankrupt, while others borrow money from friends and family and cannot repay it.

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Cocaine Withdrawal

A person addicted to cocaine who has developed a physical and psychological dependence on it may experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms when quitting. During withdrawal, the former user will often experience many uncomfortable symptoms, such as paranoia, depression, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, or vivid, unpleasant dreams. The psychological and physical symptoms of withdrawal will vary depending on many individual factors, such as the user’s tolerance, metabolism, length of addiction, the severity of addiction, and the presence of underlying mental health conditions or other addictions.

Cocaine and Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol and cocaine don’t negate the effects of one another. Instead, they mask the effects, making people unaware of how intoxicated they are. As cocaine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the collective pressure they put on your body and mind can be dangerous. Some people use alcohol and cocaine simultaneously to increase the effects of both substances. However, this combination can easily lead to life-threatening consequences such as overdose or alcohol poisoning.

People who struggle with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are especially at risk of substance abuse and polysubstance patterns. Research has shown that a particular demographic is more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder, people with bipolar disorder. This is because of the attempt to modulate mania linked with the condition.

Polysubstance abuse is, unfortunately, more common than we like to think, and one drug does enough harm to the body alone when abused. Both drugs can cause damage to the user’s body and social and emotional well-being while also increasing their risk of long-term, chronic health issues or overdose. The health dangers of one drug are enhanced by polysubstance use and co-occurring disorder.

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What is Cocaine Detox?

Cocaine detox is the first step in the rehabilitation process. It happens when a cocaine user stops taking drugs and starts a recovery program. While going through the cocaine detox process without relapsing, the cocaine user must experience a number of withdrawal symptoms. Medical staff or treatment professionals will work to stabilize the patient throughout this challenging time. After completing a cocaine detox program where the patient is stabilized and receives counseling and therapy to assist their recovery from cocaine addiction, the user will finally be prepared to enter a long-term residential facility.

Detoxing From Cocaine

Many individuals who try to quit using cocaine alone believe they can manage their withdrawal symptoms alone. Unfortunately, self-medication doesn’t work to lessen cocaine withdrawal symptoms and typically makes addiction and substance misuse problems worse. It’s important to remember that cocaine detox should be done under medical supervision to ensure the user’s safety and avoid any possible negative effects from a relapse.

How to Detox Cocaine?

There are no medications FDA-approved for cocaine detoxification at the moment. This means no medicines will be administered to the user while detoxing to lessen cravings. Some effective medications can still treat other cocaine withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, paranoia, or despair. During cocaine detox, doctors may prescribe various medications to help the addict feel better.

How to get cocaine out of your system faster? No matter how severely addicted you may be to cocaine, help is available! Choosing a drug detox program to assist you in sobriety is the first step in your recovery. Despite the odds, you have a number of options at your disposal to assist you in achieving and maintaining sobriety. First, consider the intensity of your addiction; if you often use cocaine, a residential facility or a cocaine detox program that includes 24-hour care may be suitable for you.

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs.  Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of cocaine addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of cocaine withdrawal

Cocaine Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated cocaine detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the cocaine detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Cocaine Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using cocaine and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.


Many rehab programs will also have early morning classes or programs. Group sessions occur during inpatient rehab, as do individual therapy sessions. Family therapy may be part of inpatient rehab when it’s feasible. Alternative forms of therapy may be introduced during inpatient rehab, like a holistic therapy program, yoga for addiction recovery, or an addiction treatment massage therapy.

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our opioid addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Cocaine Rehab Near Me

Cocaine addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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