You’ve had your worries and concerns about your loved one’s actions. Then you stumble across something troubling.
A small bag with a powdery white substance in it.
Could it be cocaine?
Cocaine is unlike a lot of other drugs in that, due to popular culture, a lot of us have seen it on TV or in classic movies like “Scarface” or “Pulp Fiction.”
Still, it can be hard to determine if what you’re seeing is actually cocaine. Many drugs, mostly pills, are crushed into powder form and snorted.
How do you know if it’s cocaine? Without a direct reference, it’s easy to doubt yourself.
Let’s start with the basics.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant that is incredibly addictive. It’s made from the South American coca plant and reached its peak of popularity in the 1980s and 1990s. It hasn’t gone away, though.
As with other stimulants, using cocaine increases a person’s alertness, attention, and energy.
Cocaine goes by many street names, like coke, snow, powder, blow, or simply “c”.
Cocaine can be dangerous by itself, but when combined with other drugs — which is called polysubstance use — it can be deadly. Cocaine is often mixed with heroin in what is called a speedball.
How To Tell If Its Cocaine
Cocaine isn’t the only substance that can appear as a white, or off-white, powder. It also isn’t the only drug that can look like crystals, either. So how can you determine if the substance you found is or isn’t cocaine?
Can I Identify Cocaine By Sight Alone?
Just as it appears in films, cocaine is a fine, white powder. Identifying it can be difficult, though.
In many instances, drug dealers cut (dilute) the drug with other materials like baking soda, flour, cornstarch, or even talcum powder.
This alone makes identifying cocaine by sight difficult because it closely resembles many everyday products.
An easier way to determine if the product is cocaine based on sight is to take in the surroundings and what the substance is being stored in.
Often cocaine is sold in small bags or containers. The substance will also likely be hidden for the simple reason that your loved one doesn’t want you to come across it — and it’s an expensive drug to lose or have stolen.
Still, many other substances are often turned into a powder and can be mistaken for cocaine.
What Does Cocaine Smell Like?
This is something that may seem like a funny question. When you think of cocaine, you think of it being snorted.
Snorting cocaine as a fine, white powder is the most common way of using it because of the rush felt by most when the drug enters the mucous membranes lining the nose.
So by asking what it smells like, you can see how there is confusion.
Wouldn’t I have to snort it to know the smell?
It’s recommended that you do not attempt to sniff a substance if you think it’s cocaine for two reasons:
- You could consume the product if you sniff for a smell.
- There isn’t a clear answer to the question of what it smells like.
It isn’t weird to wonder if you can identify cocaine by the smell, however.
Some claim cocaine has the smell of gasoline or paint. Others claim it smells like electricity, which is a smell that’s different for each person.
To get a smell but not sniff the product, some will try to taste the substance. This too, of course, is not recommended. It can cause numbness to the gums or tongue and will still be felt.
What does Cocaine Taste Like
While smelling cocaine to try and identify it isn’t the best option, unfortunately, neither is tasting it. Cocaine can be laced or “cut” with various other products or substances by the dealer, but the cocaine itself has been described as having a very bitter taste.
One of the ways people may choose to use the substance is orally, most commonly by rubbing it on their gums, so tasting it to identify if it is or isn’t cocaine isn’t a safe option.
You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered what the difference between cocaine and crack cocaine is. Crack cocaine is a combination of crack and baking soda, heated together, which forms crystals. These are usually consumed by smoking them.
Crack cocaine has a high propensity for addiction because it is smoked. Smoking cocaine delivers the drug faster and in higher amounts to the brain via the lungs. Unlike insufflation (snorting) powder cocaine, smoking crack cocaine produces an intense rush, often referred to as a “Bell Ringer”. The way that crack cocaine is produced and used creates intense highs and lows. Those intense feelings make stopping use without help difficult.
Is My Loved One Using Cocaine?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 5.5 million Americans had used cocaine within the past year.
While the most recognized periods of cocaine use are tied to the 1980s and 1990s, the cocaine problem is still common in the world today. As time passes, new drugs take over our focus, but the old drugs do not simply go away.
So what should I look for?
The side effects of cocaine use are fairly universal. Because cocaine is a stimulant drug, there are a number of things you may notice about someone who has used it.
The physical symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to touch, light, or sound
- Paranoia (fear that others don’t like or want to harm them)
- Increased alertness
The signs of a cocaine overdose include:
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Confusion, seizures, tremors
- Anxiety attacks
- Panic attacks
If you believe someone you love is suffering from an overdose of cocaine, call 911 immediately.
What is Treatment for Cocaine Use Like?
Cocaine rehab typically follows a general path that begins with detox. The detox period may include a mix of symptoms including:
- Severe anxiety
- Insomnia (can’t sleep)
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
During the detox period of cocaine addiction treatment, it’s important to have a team of professionals prepared to assist you through your discomforts.
With their help, the detox process can be made much easier.
Once symptoms begin to subside, treatment can truly begin by digging into the roots of the addiction rather than treating the addiction alone.
By working with therapists at a center like Shadow Mountain Recovery in New Mexico, you’ll receive evidence-based treatments and alternative treatments to help you heal.
How Shadow Mountain Can Help
At Shadow Mountain, a person will receive holistic treatment that comes along with the relaxing, nurturing, and serene environment at our locations in Sante Fe, Albuquerque, and Taos.
When tasked with overcoming an addiction to cocaine, you must have a dedicated team behind you who will help guide you through the steps of treatment.
At Shadow Mountain, you’ll receive a mix of evidence-based treatments like:
- Personalized therapy sessions
- cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Group therapy
- Life skills training
- Anger management
- Work skills
- Education classes
- Communication skills
And optional alternative therapies like:
- Tai Chi
- Exercise classes
- Healthy cooking classes
With your input, we’ll create a personalized treatment plan that cannot be matched elsewhere and will set you on the right path toward recovery. And we offer alternatives to 12-step programs.
Call Shadow Mountain Today
If you’re reading this today and you or someone you know is in need of treatment for cocaine addiction, don’t wait any longer to step up to the plate and receive treatment.
It’s a massive step to make the call, and it can be scary. But we’re here for you and want you to feel welcomed by our team with open arms.
We have the means to help.
Call us today at 800-203-8249 to learn about the process of getting admitted to one of our unique centers or to simply ask questions that this article did not answer for you.