What Does Cocaine Look Like?

Cocaine can look differently depending on what form it is in. Identifying cocaine by appearance is not always possible, because it can look like other substances. Cocaine drug use can be dangerous, but addiction treatment can help.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Cocaine can look completely different depending on what form the drug is in. All cocaine originally comes from the leaves of the coca plant, a shrub found in South America.

Most people think cocaine looks like a white powder. However, powdered cocaine is just one form of the drug, called cocaine hydrochloride, that is commonly taken by snorting.

Cocaine can be processed in different ways and take on different appearances. It can also include adulterants that alter the way it looks.

Identifying Cocaine By Appearance

Appearance is never a reliable way to identify cocaine.

If you are worried that a loved one is using this dangerously addictive drug, verify your fears with more information than just a substance you find and suspect to be cocaine, such as signs and symptoms of cocaine use.

The Color Of Cocaine

Cocaine can range in color depending on its form and additives. It may take on a white, yellow, brown, or opaque hue.

Pink cocaine is a bright pink powder that actually contains no cocaine. It is a synthetic party drug and pink cocaine is simply its street name.

Cocaine powder is usually, but not always, white. Crack cocaine takes on a milky brown, yellow, or white coloring.

Different Forms Of Cocaine

There are many different forms of cocaine, with the most popular forms being powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and freebase cocaine.

Both freebase and crack cocaine involve further processing of powder cocaine. Freebase is processed with ammonia, while crack cocaine is boiled with baking soda and water.

Powder cocaine usually looks like a fine white powder such as cornstarch or baking soda. Crack cocaine comes in the form of crystal-like, small “rocks”. Freebase cocaine looks similar to crack.

The Look Of Cocaine Cutting Agents

Cocaine is almost never pure. It is commonly cut with other compounds that can alter its appearance.

Common cutting agents include:

  • cornstarch, baking soda, or talcum powder (used to dilute cocaine and increase street dealers’ profits)
  • other drugs like amphetamines or the deadly opioid fentanyl (used to enhance effects and make the drug more addictive)
  • toxic agents like laundry detergent and boric acid
  • local anesthetics like lidocaine, benzocaine, and procaine

Effects Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is an extremely dangerous and addictive stimulant drug. It temporarily raises the levels of dopamine in the brain, which is what leads to addiction.

Cocaine has several side effects, including:

  • increased blood pressure
  • fast heart rate and/or irregular heartbeat
  • increased body temperature
  • increased risk of heart disease and heart attack (cardiac arrest)
  • nosebleeds and damage to mucous membranes
  • increased risk of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis
  • intense cravings for the drug
  • sleep problems
  • tremors and seizures

Addiction Treatment Programs For Cocaine Abuse

Cocaine substance use is a very serious problem. Addiction can lead to cocaine overdose, which might be fatal if the drug is laced with other, more severe drugs of abuse. Treatment programs for addiction can save your life.

Cocaine treatment usually starts at an inpatient treatment center. Here, people struggling with drug abuse can focus all of their energy on recovery.

In inpatient treatment, healthcare is combined with behavioral improvements and therapy to help people get back on their feet and prepare them for returning to daily life, drug-free.

Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Are you looking for an addiction treatment facility on the east coast for yourself or a loved one? Bedrock Recovery Center, located just outside of Boston, MA, is one of the nation’s top treatment centers.

Bedrock focuses on evidence-based treatments and aftercare planning to ensure that our clients have the best chance at a successful recovery.

Call our helpline today to learn more about our treatment programs.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What are the short-term effects of cocaine use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What is Cocaine? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
  4. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine 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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