Cocaine was first extracted from the leaves of the coca plant in the mid-1800s. It was considered safe at first, but the recreational use of cocaine soon became a crime internationally. Continue to read more to learn about what is cocaine made out of.
By We Level Up NJ Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: February 27, 2023
What is Cocaine Made Out of? History of Cocaine
The leaves of the coca plant Erythroxylon coca have been used as a stimulant in South America for over 4000 years. Cocaine was first isolated from the leaves in the mid-1800s. 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.
It was considered safe and used in toothache drops, nausea pills, energy tonics, and, of course, the original “Coca-Cola” beverage. However, research has since shown that cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance that can alter brain structure and function if used repeatedly.
Since 1961 the International Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs has made the recreational use of cocaine a crime internationally. The resurgence of cocaine’s popularity occurred in the 1970s during the disco era and then in the 1980s with the advent of crack cocaine.
Cocaine is listed as a DEA schedule II controlled substance because it has a medical use, but it also has a high potential for abuse.  Cocaine has long been known for its quick numbing abilities. For this reason, many early medicines, such as toothache drops, nausea pills, and pills to ease sinus pain, emphasized their pain relief qualities. The drug still has limited use in medicine today as a local anesthetic. It is occasionally used in medical procedures as a topical anesthetic for skin lacerations, nose or throat surgeries, and dental procedures.
What is Cocaine?
Is cocaine a stimulant or depressant? Cocaine is a severely addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. It increases the natural chemical messenger (dopamine) levels in brain circuits related to the control of movement and reward. Cocaine comes in a few different forms. The most common is a fine, white powder. It can also be made into a solid rock crystal. Today, cocaine is a Schedule II controlled substance, which means that it has a high potential for abuse but can be administered by a doctor for legitimate medical uses, such as local anesthesia for some ear, eye, and throat surgeries. 
Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug used by 14-21 million people worldwide.  In 2018 there are 874,000 new cocaine users.  Since cocaine is combined or ‘cut’ with other chemicals, people have no idea if the dose will be weak or strong. These other chemicals may include fillers, such as paint chemicals, cornstarch, fentanyl, and its analogs, which are added purely to boost profits.
No matter how much cocaine is taken, it is dangerous. Some of the most common serious problems include heart attack and stroke. Addiction recovery professionals recommend facing cocaine addiction with a long-term treatment plan that promotes positive decision-making and overall health improvements that include learning coping skills.
How Do People Use Cocaine?
People snort cocaine powder through the nose, or they rub it into their gums. Others dissolve the powder and inject it into the bloodstream. Some people inject a combination of cocaine and heroin, called a Speedball. The high a single dose of cocaine produces lasts only a few minutes to an hour, encouraging repeated use, which can result in a cocaine overdose. A cocaine overdose can result in permanent physical damage to the brain, heart, and, circulatory system. Stopping cocaine can cause withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbances, and agitation. Cocaine addiction is difficult to recover from, but it can be treated.
Different Types of Cocaine
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca bush (Erythroxylum coca), the main ingredient in cocaine. The leaf extract is processed to produce three different types of cocaine:
- Cocaine hydrochloride: A fine white powder with a bitter, numbing taste. Cocaine hydrochloride is often mixed, or ‘cut’, with other substances such as lidocaine, talcum powder, or sugar to dilute it before being sold.
- Freebase: A white powder that is purer than cocaine hydrochloride. Freebase cocaine has a higher level of lipid solubility, and because of this, it enters the bloodstream and brain much faster than other forms of the drug. As a result, the high is faster than snorting cocaine, and it’s similar to or sometimes faster than injecting it. Most individuals also feel that the high from freebase cocaine is more intense.
- Crack: Crystals ranging from white or cream to transparent with a pink or yellow hue. It may contain impurities. Crack is the crystalline solid form of cocaine that has grown in popularity in the last few decades. The name crack cocaine came from the crackling sound the rock makes when it’s being heated. It is created using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water instead of ammonia to remove hydrochloride from cocaine. Like freebase cocaine, it is then heated and smoked. A lot of times users get the drug that they think is pure cocaine but is in fact combined with other dangerous substances, such as fentanyl or synthetic opioids.
What Type of Drug is Cocaine?
Cocaine is what type of drug? Street cocaine is an illegal stimulant. Stimulants speed up messages between your body and brain. They increase your energy and level of alertness. It is also considered a psychoactive drug. Psychoactive drugs are drugs that affect the central nervous system (CNS), altering its regular activity.
Some would ask, “is cocaine an amphetamine?” The answer is no. But both drugs share two critical properties with other addictive drugs: they are reinforcing when administered acutely (i.e., drug use entails repeated drug use) and produce compulsive use if administered chronically with adequate dose and frequency. 
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant that directly affects the brain. It’s made from the dried leaves of the coca plant.
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Cocaine Drug Facts
In its natural form, when cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, it is a hydrochloride salt. The substance is refined into a paste and then eventually processed into a white powdery substance. The powdery substance is most often snorted, mixed with a liquid, injected, or smoked.
Crack cocaine is essentially the same substance as powdered cocaine but in a different form.
On average, crack is neither more nor less expensive per pure unit than powder cocaine. Prices are not equal in every city every year, but crack is equally likely to be more or less expensive, and the differences are not large relative to variation in prices of both forms of cocaine between cities and over time.
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Due to the unregulated, illicit way street drugs are manufactured, it’s difficult to know every single accurate ingredient that’s included in the final cocaine drug.
What’s the Difference Between Crack and Cocaine?
DEA Cocaine Drug Facts Sheet Publicly Made Available for Substance Use Disorder Awareness
Cocaine Addiction Statistics
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Coca leaf is the raw material for the manufacture of the drug cocaine, a powerful stimulant, and anesthetic extracted chemically from large quantities of coca leaves.
At first considered a safe stimulant and nerve tonic, coca’s addictive and destructive properties became apparent within 30 years of its introduction as a pharmaceutical product. When cocaine reappeared in the 1970s it was touted as the champagne of drugs because it was expensive, high status, and said to have no serious consequences. The price dropped steadily, and by the mid-1980s, six million Americans used it on a regular basis. Cocaine was gradually rediscovered to be highly addictive and dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Deaths from drug overdose continue to contribute to mortality in the United States. The rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine has increased in recent years. What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Colombia is the largest grower of the coca bush. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that Colombia is the main source of cocaine seized in the United States.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine was stable between 2009 and 2013, then nearly tripled from 1.6 per 100,000 in 2013 to 4.5 in 2018.
Individuals of all ages use cocaine—data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 27,788,000 U.S. residents aged 12 and older used a form of cocaine at least once in their lifetime. (Slightly more than 6 million of these individuals used crack cocaine.)
Among people aged 12 or older in 2021, 0.5% (or about 1.4 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in the past 12 months
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What is Cocaine Made Out of? How is Cocaine Made? Infographic
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? An increasing number of what’s sold today as “cocaine” contains no pure cocaine. The drugs labeled as cocaine are mostly some combination of fentanyl or carfentanil and counterfeit over-the-counter drugs.
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How is Cocaine Made?
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Crack is made by cooking cocaine powder with baking soda, then breaking it into small pieces called rocks. It got its name because it crackles when it is heated and smoked. Coca, which is mainly grown in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, is a highly addictive drug that is processed in jungle laboratories where the coca is extracted from the leaves to produce cocaine.
Different methods are used to make cocaine. In one method, dried coca leaves (the main ingredient in cocaine) are soaked with lime water or other alkaline liquids and then extracted with gasoline in metal drums. Workers use sulfuric acid to extract the dissolved cocaine and form a liquid solution to which lime or other alkaline liquids is added, leading to the precipitation of coca paste. Workers then add acid and potassium to remove impurities, followed by bicarbonate, to cause the base to separate. The base is further dissolved in a solvent like acetone and then soaked again in acid. Finally, the cocaine paste is filtered through a cloth to separate, then dried.
Alternately, the base can be dissolved in a solvent, such as acetone, ether, or ethyl acetate, and heated in a bath of hot water. Methyl ethyl ketone is another solvent that workers add to the hot liquid mixture, along with hydrochloric acid, leading to cocaine hydrochloride crystallizing in the solution. Solvents are pressed out by hand, followed by a hydraulic press, then the mixture is heated in a microwave to create cocaine powder.
Powdered cocaine can be further processed into crack by first mixing it into a solution of either ammonia or a combination of baking soda and water, then heating that mixture to create a substance that forms rocks for smoking. Alternately, an alkali substance can be mixed into a heated liquid cocaine solution that then settles to the bottom of a solid. Some adulterants, or cutting agents, can be filtered out through the creation of crack cocaine.
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What is in Cocaine?
What is cocaine made out of? Cocaine contains a chemical substance called benzoylmethylecgonine. It is found in the leaves of the Erythroxylum coca plant, which is the main ingredient in cocaine. Technically cocaine is the alkaloid found inside the leaves. Although there are 200 varieties of this plant, only two of them contain enough cocaine for refining. This alkaloid is a very powerful stimulant and people used it for centuries before it became a popular high-end drug.
Unfortunately, due to its illegal nature, no one knows much about the actual cocaine plant. United States scientists often resort to studying other plants and making assumptions about cocaine. When considering what cocaine is made out of, you also have to consider how it is made, why people use it, and what the problems with cocaine are.
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine is a very powerful, addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant. Pure cocaine is a flakey white powder, but can also be injected or smoked when in crack cocaine form.
The filler ingredients that are cut into cocaine vary greatly, which adds to the danger of the drug. Among the additives used are:
- Additives with psychoactive or numbing effects can greatly increase the risk of using the drug concoction sold as cocaine.
- Poisonous fillers cause harm through toxicity but don’t have any psychoactive effects.
- White powders merely mimic the appearance of cocaine and weaken the effect of cocaine.
Although it is relatively rare for poisonous ingredients to be mixed into cocaine, the dangers are severe. Cocaine-containing poison is known among users as a “death hit” because it can be lethal. Strychnine is a toxic ingredient that is sometimes mixed with cocaine. It is used in rat poison and can kill humans. Psychological symptoms of strychnine poisoning are similar to the negative effects people sometimes experience from cocaine. These include anxiety, restlessness, agitation, and an increased startle response.
Dealers have been mixing a variety of street drugs with fentanyl. It is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic that is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin. As fentanyl is not even the same kind of drug as cocaine, it might not seem to make sense that it would be used to cut street cocaine. However, this really is happening, possibly because of the intense euphoria that both drugs induce in users.
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What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine processing includes many substances, and the drug is cut with other drugs by dealers to extend batches. Some of these substances, such as fentanyl, are extremely dangerous and deadly.
As with other drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit and other brain systems, which may lead to addiction. The reward circuit eventually adapts to the extra dopamine caused by the drug, becoming steadily less sensitive to it. As a result, people take stronger and more frequent doses to feel the same high they did initially and to obtain relief from withdrawal.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Treatment for cocaine side effects due to abuse and addiction typically involves cocaine detox and therapy in an inpatient rehabilitation program. These programs greatly increase your chances of a successful recovery, even though psychological dependence on cocaine is a serious condition that is difficult to overcome. This determination is based on a number of factors including the severity of the addiction, living environment, and psychiatric and medical needs. If you are suffering from cocaine side effects and considering treatment for cocaine addiction, it is helpful to seek a substance abuse evaluation from an addiction professional to determine the right type of support.
Making the decision to find cocaine addiction treatment is the first step toward recovery. It is also the most important step. Once you admit to struggling with addiction, the only way to go is forward. The brain does not simply go back to normal when the drug use stops and it could take several supports, therapy, counseling, and treatment methods in order to help you effectively overcome the disease. Not everyone needs cocaine addiction treatment, but such help is beneficial to those who have suffered adverse reactions to their sustained drug use, including cocaine overdose.
Treatment for cocaine addiction may include:
- Medically Assisted Detox
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
- Support groups
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
- Aftercare support
Now that answered the question “what is cocaine made out of?”, we’ve learned how it can be cut with fentanyl and rat poison that can lead to overdose and death. Treatment begins with recognizing there is a problem. Once you decide you want to do something about your drug use, the next step is to get help and support. If you or a loved one is struggling with stimulant abuse issues and addiction. We Level Up NJ addiction specialists are standing by to help. Call us today for treatment resources, each call is private and confidential.
Top 5 What is Cocaine Made Out of? FAQs
What is the main ingredient in cocaine?
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine hydrochloride crystal is the main psychoactive ingredient in cocaine and it is responsible for producing the cocaine high.
What type of drug is cocaine?
What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
What plant is cocaine made from?
Coca leaf is the raw material for the manufacture of the drug cocaine, a powerful stimulant, and anesthetic extracted chemically from large quantities of coca leaves.
What are the different types of cocaines?
The three different types of cocaine are cocaine hydrochloride, freebase cocaine, and crack cocaine. What is cocaine made out of? and how is cocaine made? Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant. Cocaine comes as a white powder, which can be dissolved in water. It is available as a powder or liquid.
What is cocain made out of?
Cocaine is made from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America.
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Search We Level Up NJ What is Cocaine Made Out of? Detox, Mental Health Topics & Resources
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 NIDA. What is Cocaine? National Institute on Drug Abuse website. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine. May 2, 2022, Accessed February 27, 2023. In relation to the topic: “What is cocaine made out of?”
[3-4] Cocaine Drug Fact Sheet – Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
 Kalivas PW. Cocaine and amphetamine-like psychostimulants: neurocircuitry and glutamate neuroplasticity. Dialogues Clin Neurosci. 2007;9(4):389-97. DOI: 10.31887/DCNS.2007.9.4/pkalivas. PMID: 18286799; PMCID: PMC3202508.
 How pure are street drugs? – https://www.drugwise.org.uk/how-pure-are-street-drugs/ In relation to the topic: “What is cocaine made out of?”
 Crack Cocaine – National Drug Intelligence Center In relation to the topic: “What is cocaine made out of?”
 Polysubstance Use Facts – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
 Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction DrugFacts – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
 Jahan AR, Burgess DM. Substance Use Disorder. [Updated 2022 May 5]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK570642/ In relation to the topic: “What is cocaine made out of?”