Dangers Of Cutting Cocaine With Fentanyl

Fentanyl is being added to a lot of the cocaine sold in the U.S. today. Cocaine laced with the opioid fentanyl can be deadly, yet addiction treatment can save the life of someone struggling with illicit drug abuse.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


The main danger of using fentanyl as an additive in cocaine is that it increases the chances of an overdose. It is very easy to overdose on fentanyl because it is so potent.

Fentanyl also has heroin-like effects and is very addictive. People who are using cocaine, which is already very addictive, could be at even higher risk for addiction if it is laced with fentanyl.

People using fentanyl-laced cocaine could end up addicted to both cocaine and opioids, without even knowing it. As their tolerance to both increases, so does the risk for overdose.

Why Cocaine Is Cut With Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid drug. This means that instead of using the poppy plant to make the drug, it is made in a lab.

It has the same effects on the brain as other opioids like heroin and morphine. Fentanyl is extremely potent. It is up to 100 times stronger than morphine, and up to 50 times stronger than heroin.

Some fentanyl-related substances like carfentanil are up to 10,000 times more potent than morphine.

There are two types of fentanyl: pharmaceutical and illicit. Pharmaceutical fentanyl is used in hospitals as a legal drug to treat severe pain.

Illicit fentanyl is made by drug dealers and is often added as an adulterant to drugs like cocaine and heroin to enhance the effects of the drugs and extend the high.

The Process Of Cutting Cocaine With Fentanyl

Cocaine production starts with the leaves of the coca plant and ends with the white powder that people who use the drug are familiar with.

Fentanyl has a powder form, and this is usually the form that is mixed into cocaine.

Mixing fentanyl into cocaine is very simple and it can happen before the drug is trafficked into the U.S. Or, individual drug dealers in the U.S. may do it themselves.

Since both substances can appear as a white powder, fentanyl is simply mixed into cocaine once it is in its powder form.

How Cocaine Cut With Fentanyl Is Used

Cocaine cut with fentanyl is used in the same ways as normal cocaine. People using cocaine often have no idea that the drug has fentanyl in it.

Powder cocaine is primarily used by snorting, or less commonly, by using water as a solvent and injecting it.

However, other forms of the drug, such as freebase, can be smoked. Freebasing cocaine requires the drug’s powder form to be processed into a more pure cocaine which can be smoked.

Additionally, crack cocaine is made by adding baking soda and water to the powder form of the drug, and boiling it down into a solid. Crack cocaine is also smoked.

Any form of cocaine can have fentanyl in it.

The Dangers Of Using Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine

Side effects of cocaine and fentanyl can both be extremely dangerous. Combining the two drugs is particularly deadly.

Physical Effects Of Cocaine Cut With Fentanyl

Cocaine is a stimulant drug, while fentanyl and other opioids have more of a sedating effect. One of the tell-tale signs of fentanyl-laced cocaine is feeling both increased energy and extreme sedation.

These physical effects can result from using fentanyl-laced cocaine:

  • high blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • slurred speech
  • nodding off
  • problems breathing
  • unconsciousness
  • lung problems

Mental Effects Of Cocaine Cut With Fentanyl

Cocaine laced with fentanyl has unique mental effects, including:

  • sedation
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • euphoria
  • depression
  • anxiety

Overdose Deaths Related To Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine

The main problem with fentanyl-laced cocaine is overdose deaths. A tiny amount of fentanyl can cause an overdose.

As more street drugs are laced with fentanyl, overdose deaths have skyrocketed. More people between the ages of 18 to 45 died from fentanyl overdose last year than any other cause.

This means that fentanyl overdoses killed more 18-45 year-olds than car crashes, cancer, COVID, or heart disease. Many of these deaths were due to cocaine cut with fentanyl.

Other Common Cutting Agents Used With Cocaine

Cocaine can be cut with any number of substances.

These adulterants may act as fillers, diluting the cocaine to increase profits of the dealers. They can also increase the potency and make it more addictive, or alter its effects to make it more desirable.

Among the most common agents are local anesthetics which have a numbing effect that can lead people to believe that the cocaine is very pure or high-quality.

The following are all common street cocaine cutting agents:

  • levamisole
  • lidocaine
  • phenacetin
  • procaine
  • benzocaine
  • boric acid
  • cornstarch
  • laundry detergent
  • amphetamines

Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one has a cocaine drug addiction, there are treatment options that can help. Cocaine addiction treatment should happen at a certified treatment center.

Treatment may start with detox before moving to inpatient care. Inpatient treatment is a critical step where people with substance use problems can get back on their feet.

The best treatment centers use evidence-based treatment methods. These methods of treatment give people the best chance at making a full recovery from addiction.

Find A Rehab Center For Substance Abuse

Bedrock Recovery Center is a top-of-the-line inpatient addiction treatment center located in Canton, MA.

We specialize in helping our clients achieve mental, emotional, and physical stability in the early stages of their recovery.

Are you ready to begin your road to recovery? Call our helpline today to learn about your treatment options through Bedrock.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) https://www.cdc.gov/stopoverdose/fentanyl/index.html
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
  5. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Cocaine-2020_1.pdf

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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