Fake Cocaine, Identification, Risks, & Effects of Addiction

Because fake cocaine is addictive and likely more powerful than real cocaine, if you take it over a long period of time, your body can become dependent on it.  Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with fake cocaine addiction.

Fake Cocaine, Risks & Effects of Addiction

Bath salts, the psychoactive designer street drugs that emerged in the United States in 2010, have left a trail of alarming reports. In June and July 2017, law enforcement authorities made multiple undercover purchases of crack cocaine from one dealer in Baltimore, MD. In September 2017, official laboratory results indicated that two of these purchases tested as N-ethylpentylone Hydrochloride, a synthetic cathinone (“bath salts”) derivative classified as a Schedule I Controlled Substance Analogue [1].

Fake cocaine or “bath salts” is a designer drug that may contain substances such as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) and is available online as a chemical. People who use it typically snort the powder to get high. As a result, it often goes by the nickname “fake cocaine.” Bath salts are basically amphetamine derivatives and carry all the same cardiovascular risks, which include hypertension, tachycardia, hyperthermia, diaphoresis, seizures, arrhythmias, and respiratory distress. And they can be deadly for people with underlying cardiovascular disease.

Cases of myocardial infarction, stroke, cerebral edema, coma, cardiovascular collapse, and death have been reported in people using bath salts. The effects of the drugs also vary based on the route of administration; they can be swallowed, snorted, injected, or inserted into the rectum or vagina.  The effects are likened to those of methamphetamine, MDMA, and cocaine. Fake cocaine can also lead to feelings of anxiety and agitation. Aggression and suicidal thoughts can also occur.

Dangers of Fake Cocaine

Sold under names such as White Lightning, Cloud 9, or Ivory Wave, bath salts represent a category of illicit drug that typically contains combinations of various synthetic cathinones, including 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), mephedrone, and methylone.

The most worrisome effects are the extreme neurological and psychiatric changes—paranoia, terrifying hallucinations, psychosis, self-destructive and violent behavior—that occur in users of bath salts. Despite these effects, some users continue to use the drugs. 

Compared to a drug like ecstasy, bath salts are much more dangerous. Users are ending up in psych wards bound with restraints because they are going to do harm to themselves and to others. The drug may trigger schizophrenia or acute psychosis in young people with underlying disease. 

The enduring high and extreme behavior may stem in part from the insidious combination of the compounds in bath salts. While mephedrone acts like methamphetamines in increasing dopamine concentrations, MDPV mimics the way in which cocaine inhibits the reuptake of dopamine, resulting in the brain staying flooded with dopamine

Where Fake Cocaine Comes From

People were abusing a synthetic cathinone in Russia and eastern Europe for several decades before the drug appeared in western Europe and the United Kingdom in the 2000s. And cathinone, an alkaloid derived from east Africa’s khat plant, has been chewed by people for hundreds of years for its stimulant effect.

Synthetic cathinones, more commonly known as bath salts or fake cocaine, are human-made stimulants chemically related to cathinone, a substance found in the khat plant. Khat is a shrub grown in East Africa and southern Arabia, where some people chew its leaves for their mild stimulant effects. Human-made versions of cathinone can be much stronger than the natural product and, in some cases, very dangerous.

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Fake Coke Addiction Statistics

In July 2012, the U.S. Government passed Pub.L. 112- 144, the Synthetic Drug Abuse Prevention Act (SDAPA), that classified a number of synthetic substances under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. SDAPA placed these substances in the most restrictive category of controlled substances.

Cannabimimetic agents, including 15 synthetic cannabinoid compounds identified by name, two synthetic cathinone compounds (mephedrone and MDPV), and nine synthetic hallucinogens known as the 2C family, were restricted by this law. In addition, methylone and ten (10) synthetic cathinones that were subject to temporary control were permanently controlled by DEA through the administrative process.

Another synthetic cathinone, N-ethylbentylone, was temporarily controlled in 2018. Other synthetic cathinones may be subject to prosecution under the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act which allows these dangerous substances to be treated as Schedule I controlled substances if certain criteria can be met.


According to a report issued by SAMHSA, synthetic cathinones were responsible for over 22,000 ER visits in 2011.

Source: SAMHSA


In 2012, calls about Bath Salts to poison control centers peaked with 2,697 and declined each year after that.

Source: NIDA


1 in 5 high-school seniors that make up 1% of those misusing bath salts had used them at least 40 times in the past year.

Source: DEA

Fake Coke or Bath Salts Drug Facts Sheet

What is it?

Synthetic stimulants sold online, convenience stores and “head shops” under various brand names. Resemble Epsom salts and labeled “Not for human consumption.” Erroneously sold as bath salts, plant food and research chemicals.

Street Names

Bliss, Blue Silk, Cloud Nine, Drone, Energy-1, Ivory Wave, Lunar Wave, Meow Meow, Meph, Ocean Burst, Pure Ivory, Purple Wave, Red Dove, Snow Leopard, Stardust, Vanilla Sky, White Dove, White Knight, White Lightning,

How is it used?

Sniffing/snorting, orally, smoked, or put into a solution and injected.

What is their origin?

Synthetic cathinones are manufactured in East
Asia and have been distributed at wholesale
levels throughout Europe, North America,
Australia, and other parts of the world.

What does it look like?

Websites have listed products containing these
synthetic stimulants as “plant food” or “bath salts,”
however, the powdered form is also compressed
in gelatin capsules. The synthetic stimulants are
sold at smoke shops, head shops, convenience
stores, adult book stores, gas stations, and on
Internet sites and often labeled “not for human

Which drugs cause similar effects?

They cause effects similar to those of other
stimulants such as methamphetamine, MDMA,
and cocaine.

How Does Fake Cocaine Affect the Brain?

A study found that 3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), a common synthetic cathinone, affects the brain in a manner similar to cocaine, but is at least 10 times more powerful. MDPV is the most common synthetic cathinone found in the blood and urine of patients admitted to emergency departments after taking bath salts.

Synthetic cathinones (fake coke) can produce effects that include:

  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others
  • Hallucinations—experiencing sensations and images that seem real but are not
  • Increased friendliness
  • Increased sex drive
  • Panic attacks
  • Excited delirium—extreme agitation and violent behavior

How Does Fake Cocaine Affect the Body?

Adverse or toxic effects associated with the
abuse of cathinones, including synthetic
cathinones, include rapid heartbeat; hypertension.
hyperthermia; prolonged dilation of the pupil of
the eye: breakdown of muscle fibers that leads to
release of muscle fiber contents into bloodstream.
teeth grinding; sweating; headaches; palpitations.
seizures; as well as paranoia, hallucinations, and

Is Fake Cocaine Addictive?

Yes, synthetic crack also known as fake cocaine, can be addictive, Animal studies show that rats will compulsively self-administer synthetic crack. Human users have reported that the drugs trigger intense, uncontrollable urges to use the drug again. Taking synthetic crack can cause strong withdrawal symptoms that include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Problems sleeping
  • Paranoia
Because synthetic coke are addictive and likely more powerful than real cocaine, if you take it over a long period of time, your body can become dependent on it.  Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with trazodone addiction.
Because synthetic coke are addictive and likely more powerful than real cocaine, if you take it over a long period of time, your body can become dependent on it. 
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How to Tell if Cocaine is Real?

Fake cocaine can also come in multiple different forms, not just a powder. You may find it in capsules, tablets, or small crystals made to look like crack cocaine. It can look shockingly like the real thing. How to tell if cocaine is fake?

Color – One way to tell fake cocaine from the real thing is the color. Fake cocaine is often brown or light tan compared to the real thing which is usually a white powder.

Packaging – You may also be able to tell fake from real based on what’s on the outside of the bag. Fake cocaine will may have “bath salts,” “for novelty use only,” “plant food,” or “not for human consumption” on the outside of the bag

What Does Pure Cocaine Look Like?

It can be hard to tell if cocaine is considered pure simply by looks since it can easily be cut or mixed with substances that look similar. Some of these include things like baby powder, flour, or sugar in some instances and even other drugs or illegal substances. It can be tricky to know if what you have is pure or not by looking or by any other methods that are readily available.  This is part of what makes use so dangerous as you may not know what is in the drug you are going to ingest, inhale, or inject into your body.

Is Cocaine a Synthetic Drug?

Synthetic drugs differ from organic ones in that they are produced via chemical synthesis. Synthetic drugs are designed to mimic organic botanical compounds, but they often contain highly processed chemicals. The body has difficulty recognizing synthetic drugs, which makes them harder to process and metabolize. For this reason, these drugs are more likely to induce toxicity and adverse side effects.

Organic drugs are natural substances extracted from plants and animals. Examples of them include marijuana, heroin, opium, cocaine and hallucinogenic mushrooms. Neither synthetic nor organic drugs are more dangerous than the other, because both of them have potential for abuse. When either type of drug is abused, overdose, adverse side effects and addiction are all possible. However, a recent flood of synthetic drugs has emerged on the drug abuse scene, so many people are more concerned about abusing these substances.

Is Cocaine a Designer Drug?

Designer drugs are man-made drug compounds developed to mimic the effects of illegal drugs. Many designer drugs are a combination of several drugs. Designer drugs are made to avoid classification as illegal. They are often designed to be undetectable on drug tests. Most designer drugs try to imitate cocaine, ecstasy, and other stimulants.

For some users, these drugs are appealing simply because their legal status is a little unclear. Chemists have worked hard to develop drugs that don’t contain the hallmarks and attributes that drug enforcement communities look for. So that means some drug users can get high with these substances without facing arrest or some other form of consequence.

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Common Side Effects of Using Fake Cocaine

People typically snort the white powder to get high, but it can also be smoked or taken orally. How are synthetic drugs taken? Typically, synthetic coke loses its potency when mixed with a solution, so it’s not commonly injected. However, more recent DEA reports do include this method.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, bath salts can cause:

  • Excessively rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Kidney failure
  • Dehydration
  • Breakdown of muscle tissue

In addition, there are reports of death due to the abuse of this class of drugs

Fake cocaine is likely made with synthetic cathinones or “bath salts.” Just like real cocaine.
Fake cocaine is likely made with synthetic cathinones or “bath salts.” Just like real cocaine.

Signs of Fake Cocaine Abuse

The use of fake cocaine can lead to erratic and unpredictable behavior. Many of the signs that someone is using fake cocaine are similar to cocaine itself. Some of the common signs of use include:5

  • Changes in mood
  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Anger or agitation
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Violent behavior
  • Presence of drug paraphernalia
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Financial problems

While fake cocaine is anecdotally linked to violent behavior, not enough is yet known about its precise effect to suggest that using it can lead to homicidal behavior.

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Can Fake Cocaine Lead To Overdose?

As an illegal street drug, synthetic cocaine comes in unpredictable formulations that can be spiked with other drugs. When this drug is snorted in binges, the body can become overwhelmed and may be unable to adequately process the high volume of drug in their system. The body may react to the excess of coke with overdose effects that can result in cardiac damage and death.

Overdose symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Severe agitation
  • Psychosis (hallucinations and paranoia)
  • Rapid and irregular heartbeat

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Fake Cocaine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing fake 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 fake 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 fake cocaine withdrawal. 

Fake Cocaine Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated fake 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 fake 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 Fake 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 fake 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.

Fake Cocaine Rehab Near Me

Fake 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 fake cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

Bath salts continue to be sold on the Internet and in retail stores, camouflaged under names such as stain remover, research chemicals, plant food, and insect repellent. 
Bath salts continue to be sold on the Internet and in retail stores, camouflaged under names such as stain remover, research chemicals, plant food, and insect repellent. 
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