Synthetic Cocaine: Dangers Of Fake Cocaine

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Fake cocaine or synthetic cocaine produces a similar effect to real cocaine (but more powerful), but the two substances have different chemical structures. Synthetic cocaine can produce side effects that are just as numerous and as dangerous as real cocaine.

Synthetic Cocaine

Synthetic cocaine, also called fake cocaine or plant food, is best understood as a different drug from hydrochloride cocaine (regular cocaine).

While the two drugs have similar effects and even some similarities in chemical structure, they are different types of cocaine chemically and in terms of their effect on people.

Synthetic cocaine is regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule I drug on the list of controlled substances because it has no medical use.

Both cocaine and fake cocaine can lead to addiction, health risks, and side effects.

What Synthetic Cocaine Looks Like

Synthetic cocaine usually looks similar to regular cocaine when in powder form.

It can have a color that ranges from white to brown (the color regular cocaine takes on when drug dealers cut it with additives).

Unlike white powder cocaine, you may find synthetic cocaine sold as a capsule or tablet, even as rock-like crystals similar to crack cocaine.

What’s The Difference Between Synthetic Cocaine And Pure Cocaine?

There are a number of differences between synthetic cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride and one of the primary differences is their source.

Cocaine is derived from the coca plant in native South American countries such as Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia, all of which border the Amazon basin.

Coca leaves are made into a paste that is then transformed into powder.

Synthetic cocaine, called “bath salts,” is made from synthetic cathinone that is related to natural cathinones from the Khat plant native to eastern Africa.

The chemical structure of synthetic cocaine, which is 3.4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), bears a resemblance to amphetamine or methamphetamine stimulants.

In addition to selling it as cocaine, drug dealers may also sell it as MDMA (when it is actually neither).

How People Use Fake Cocaine

Fake cocaine drug use happens in many of the same ways as normal cocaine use.

People typically use fake cocaine in one of the following ways:

  • smoking
  • snorting
  • injecting
  • swallowing

Does Synthetic Cocaine Have Different Effects Than Real Cocaine?

In general, synthetic cocaine affects people similarly to real cocaine but in a stronger way. Synthetic cocaine is 10 times stronger than regular cocaine.

Part of the reason for the difference is that synthetic cocaine, like other synthetic drugs, has psychoactive properties.

Short-term effects of synthetic cocaine include:

  • increased friendliness
  • increased paranoia
  • increased sex drive
  • hallucinations
  • excited delirium
  • agitation
  • violent behavior
  • panic attacks

What Are The Dangers Of Synthetic Cocaine Use?

Synthetic cocaine substance abuse comes with a range of dangers.

These dangers can affect a person’s physical and mental health more broadly and require hospitalization because synthetic cocaine is not fit for human consumption.

Long-term side effects of synthetic cocaine abuse include:

  • cognitive impairment
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • chest pain
  • heart attack
  • kidney failure
  • liver failure
  • mental health disorders
  • respiratory failure

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

Synthetic cathinones in general and synthetic cocaine, in particular, are addictive and require addiction treatment from a qualified facility.

Medication-assisted treatment has not been developed for stimulants like cocaine, but other treatments are available.

Therapeutic modalities and programs used to treat cocaine abuse include:

  • contingency management (CM)
  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • motivational incentives
  • motivational enhancement therapy
  • inpatient cocaine addiction programs
  • outpatient services
  • detox programs

Find Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs

If you are battling a cocaine addiction or a synthetic cocaine substance use disorder, don’t wait to get help until the severity of the drug’s effects becomes devastating.

You or your loved one can find addiction treatment centers in your state and quite possibly even in your region.

Get started on your addiction treatment today by calling our helpline for more information.


Canton, Massachusetts

Bedrock Recovery Center


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Plymouth, Massachusetts

Ohio Recovery Center


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Spring Hill Recovery Center


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