How To Identify Cocaine: What It Looks, Tastes & Smells Like

Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is addictive and deadly. It also can be a challenge to identify when people encounter it. If they suspect someone in their household is using drugs, they can look for cocaine in its various forms—powder, flake, or rock—or the paraphernalia involved in its use—spoon, straw or tube, needle, or pipe. It also has a distinct smell and taste. Once identified, then rehab can be considered.

Cocaine belongs to a family of drugs known as stimulant drugs. Stimulant drugs heighten the body’s activity through escalating one’s energy, alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure. The illicit drug is procured from the leaves of the coca bush which is found originally in  Andes Mountain region of South America. If a person is wondering how to identify cocaine, the Erythroxylum coca bush leaf extract is used to produce the powdery or rock-like white substance known as cocaine.

What cocaine looks like

Cocaine can appear in a variety of ways. Once it is pulled out of coca leaves it can be found in flake and rock shape before it is purified into a feathery white powder, similar to baby powder. Cocaine is a flaky, hard material that is obtained by adding ammonia or baking soda and water to cocaine hydrochloride and then heating it up. The street name for cocaine is “crack”,”freebase”. This name is given to cocaine because of the crackling sound it makes when the mixture is heated. The result of heating the mixture is a solid substance. That solid substance is removed from the liquid mixture and broken into chunks. These chunks make cocaine appear to look like white rocks that vary in shape and size. Cocaine can also appear in the form of a white powder. Cocaine in the form of white powder is referred to as cocaine hydrochloride. This form of cocaine is the most common way cocaine is sold.

Does Cocaine Have a Smell

Cocaine smells a few different ways. It can produce a metallic, chemical, burning plastic, or even sweet floral fragrance depending on whether or not it is heated up and what it is mixed with. The smell of cocaine depends on the chemicals used to make the cocaine. When cocaine is heated it can produce a chemical or even metallic scent. Crack cocaine that is not cooked tends to have more of a flowery smell. This makes sense considering it is procured from the leaves of a coca bush. Crack cocaine that is heated with fire tends to give off the smell of burning plastic.

What Does Cocaine Taste Like?

Unbeknownst to many people cocaine has a very distinct and long-lasting taste. Cocaine hydrochloride has a bitter and numbing taste that can remain on the individual’s tongue and lips for an extended amount of time. Additionally, the taste of cocaine may vary depending upon the ingredients that are mixed into the substance.

Cocaine And Paraphernalia – What To Look For

When trying to determine if someone is using cocaine there are four main types of paraphernalia that are commonly used. These include a needle, pipe, small spoon, and a straw or tube. The needle is a syringe that is used to inject the liquefied drug directly into the body. The pipe can be made out of wood, acrylic, glass, metal, plastic, or ceramic materials. A pipe that is used to smoke cocaine will have a bulb on the end. Most people tend to use some kind of pipe that can withstand the heat of a flame to smoke their cocaine. The inside of the pipe will have a tiny piece of shredded metal wool that is used to hold the tiny cocaine rocks in place while they are being warmed up. A small spoon is sometimes used to portion and hold the cocaine as well as to snort it directly. The small tube can be a short plastic straw, rolled up dollar bill or paper. That material is used to snort the powdered version of cocaine. Also, for crack pieces that are larger, it is common to find a razor blade, tiny mirror, or another flat surface that can be used for cutting rock pieces into a smaller size. In order to store and smoke cocaine, plastic bags, aluminum foil, and a lighter are commonly used items.

Help For Cocaine Addiction

Getting the right help as early as possible for cocaine addiction is important because this drug can cause serious harm to a person’s body. Drug addiction is a complex disease that involves many changes in the brain. It also impacts a person’s environment in which they live, social interactions, family and lifestyle. Currently, there is no drug in the United States that has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat individuals addicted to cocaine.

However, there are other treatment options that have been shown effective in helping individuals overcome their addiction to cocaine. One treatment option is a 12-step program that can help individuals who are addicted to cocaine  to overcome their affliction and maintain abstinence. Individuals can benefit from the support by knowing that there are other people going through the same recovery process and sharing their unique stories with others who are experiencing a common issue.

Behavioral treatment is another form of help for individuals who are addicted to cocaine use. It has been proven to be effective for both residential and outpatient settings. One form of behavioral treatment is contingency management. Contingency management is a program that uses a prize-based system that rewards individuals who are recovering from their cocaine addiction by refraining from cocaine use. Individuals who are addicted to cocaine will then take some form of  drug test to make sure that they have not been using cocaine. If the recovering individuals test negative, signifying that they have not been using cocaine, they will receive chips or points that can be exchanged for items which inspire a healthy lifestyle. Contingency management has been proven to help a diverse scope of people who use cocaine.

Another form of behavioral treatment that helps individuals to overcome their cocaine addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to help individuals impede relapse and aids in continual abstinence from using cocaine. This therapy helps individuals who are addicted to cocaine to find connections between their thoughts ,feelings and actions and increase their awarenesss about the drug and help them cope with a range of problems associated with using the drug.


Medical disclaimer:

Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.

Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.

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