What Is Cocaine And Where Does It Come From?

Cocaine is a dangerous illegal drug. It comes in many different forms and can be taken in a variety of ways. Cocaine drug addiction requires treatment at a certified treatment center.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


Cocaine is a stimulant drug that can produce an intense and euphoric “high”. It is also one of the most addictive drugs. Cocaine addiction can greatly affect a person’s life.

Cocaine is derived from leaves of the coca plant, which is mainly grown in South America. Countries like Bolivia, Peru, and Columbia are all major producers of cocaine.

Many people don’t know that cocaine used to have legitimate medical uses as a local anesthetic. Cocaine hydrochloride comes in a liquid solution and was previously used by doctors to numb the nasal passages.

Cocaine hydrochloride was first extracted from the coca plant over 100 years ago. It was used widely as a medicine and was even found in Coca-Cola in the drink’s early days.

However, because cocaine is so addictive and has so many adverse side effects and dangers, it is outlawed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug in the same family of drugs as amphetamines and methamphetamine (meth).

It is most commonly found in a white powder form, although different forms of cocaine can have many appearances, and may include a white, flake-like substance.

People use cocaine in its powdered form mainly by snorting it. Cocaine powder can also be melted down into a liquid form and injected. This is a more uncommon way to use the drug.

Cocaine is often “cut”, or mixed, with other substances by dealers and drugmakers in order to increase their profits. Common cocaine cutting agents include flour, talcum powder, and cornstarch.

Where Cocaine Comes From

Cocaine is a chemical that is derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which comes from South America.

In order to extract cocaine hydrochloride from coca leaves, they are soaked in gasoline or another chemical solvent. Next, the leaves are processed with lime to further the extraction.

As the extraction process continues, the leaves are strained out and the chemical mixture is dried. This dried form is where pure powder cocaine comes from.

Where Different Types Of Cocaine Come From

Cocaine does not only come in a powder form. It has other forms, which might be taken in a different way and can produce slightly different effects.

Powder Cocaine

Powder cocaine could be pure cocaine hydrochloride extracted with the method explained above. Usually though, by the time it hits the streets, the cocaine has been cut with other substances.

Freebase Cocaine

Freebase cocaine requires further processing of cocaine hydrochloride. Using ammonia, cocaine hydrochloride is processed to an even more pure form, cocaine sulfate.

Freebase cocaine comes in a solid, crystal-like form. It cannot be melted and injected, but it is easily smoked. People usually smoke freebase cocaine using a pipe.

Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is also a further processed form of powdered cocaine. To make crack cocaine, the powdered form is usually boiled with baking soda or another substance and water.

Eventually, a solid forms and this solid is broken into smaller pieces. Crack cocaine is usually heated and smoked using a pipe.

The drug’s name comes from the “crackling” sound it makes as it is heated up. This form of cocaine is particularly addictive.

What’s In Cocaine?

Any of the different types of cocaine can be cut with other substances.

These substances are commonly added to cocaine:

  • cornstarch
  • flour
  • talcum powder
  • caffeine
  • methamphetamine
  • opioids (including fentanyl)
  • laundry detergent
  • creatine
  • procaine (a local anesthetic)
  • boric acid

Cocaine is a dangerous and addictive drug on its own. Some of the additives that are commonly cut into the drug make it even more dangerous.

Effects Of Cocaine Use

Cocaine drug use is harmful, and cocaine addiction can lead to many side effects. Long-term use of cocaine affects nearly every part of the body, as well as mental health.

Short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • intense, euphoric high
  • anxiety
  • panic
  • constricted blood vessels
  • increased body temperature
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • heart attack
  • seizure
  • stroke

In addition to the short-term effects, long-term effects of cocaine substance abuse include:

  • increased risk of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis (especially if injecting the drug)
  • intense cravings for cocaine and withdrawal symptoms when not using it
  • chronically high blood pressure
  • increased risk for heart disease
  • psychosis
  • depression
  • chronic runny nose and nosebleeds
  • holes and/or infection in the septum

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one has a cocaine addiction, drug addiction treatment is a necessary intervention.

Seeking treatment at a certified rehab center is the first step towards recovery from addiction.

Rehab for cocaine addiction might include:

  • detox
  • inpatient cocaine rehab programs
  • medically assisted treatment
  • behavioral health services
  • outpatient care

Find A Rehab Center For Cocaine Use Disorder

Bedrock Recovery Center is an inpatient addiction treatment center located outside of Boston, MA. We offer treatment plans for any adult with addiction to cocaine and other drugs.

Bedrock Recovery Center is proud to be one of the east coast’s top addiction treatment facilities. We serve clients from many cities, including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C.

Call our helpline today to learn how you can start your road to addiction recovery.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
  4. 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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