Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Just when you thought it was safe to do cocaine...

It seems like everything fun in life always has its downsides.  Eating junk food makes you fat.  Having sex can potentially lead to STDs or pregnancy.  Driving fast in your car can cause wrecks and tickets.

But now, out of the blue, it turns out that all our wonderful cocaine is adulterated with a chemical that causes your skin to rot off.  We all heard in high school hygiene class about how doing cocaine can burn holes in your nose and maybe even you've heard or seen someone who could pull a handkerchief from one side of their nose out the other (which would be totally worth it, in my opinion).  But now it seems cocaine cartels are just getting sloppy with their cutting agents and are resorting to only want to make the drug look nice, but not feel nice.  For shame, FARC! Pablo Escobar would be rolling over in his grave.

In a report in the June 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dumyati and doctors from the University of Rochester Medical Center discuss two cases involving women with a history of cocaine use who came to the hospital for help when they noticed purplish plaques on their cheeks, earlobes, legs, thighs and buttocks.
Their profiles were typical of toxicity with levamisole, the doctors reported. The medication is a veterinary anti-worming agent, approved for use in cattle, sheep and pigs. It was once used to treat cancer, autoimmune diseases and kidney problems in humans, Dumyati said. It's no longer approved for use in people in the United States, she said, because of adverse side effects.
But it's often used to cut cocaine, before distribution to the user, she said. "Almost 80 percent of the cocaine coming into this country has levamisole mixed in," Dumyati said.
Levamisole is a previously used deworming agent for livestock and apparently has some nasty side effects.  It was used in humans until the first part of the 21st century (which, as it happens, was just a couple years ago) until it was pulled because they found out it wasn't that great.

When you buy cocaine, you always want it to look rocky in texture so you would know it hasn't been too cut or adulterated with other crap (not that I would know).  But, apparently, levamisole is added specifically to make it look less rocky.  I guess the cocaine buyers of the world are becoming less educated.

That's a shame when you think about it, because there are all kinds of cool and interesting things you could cut cocaine with to improve its bioavailability, enhance its route of administration, give it more potency and so forth.  Probably a lot of the stuff doesn't cost too much anyway.  If you ever wonder into a  head shop to get out of the rain you may notice they sell large tubs of the B vitamin, inositol.  This isn't because the customers of these types of shops are interested in their overall health and want to increase their B vitamin intake.  Inositol is a common cutting agent of cocaine because it not only looks similar to cocaine, but it enhances the effects of the drug through some of it's weird mood enhancing benefits that are poorly understood.  Caffeine powder would be another obvious choice to increase the stimulating effects of the cocaine.  A cyclodextrin is a molecule that looks like a donut and an added drug can be placed in the center.  Acting as a simple sugar it absorbs very readily through the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth and helps enhance bioavailability of the drug, making delivery better than without it. [1]

For those who were so inclined, cut cocaine can usually be reduced to remove most of the adulterants, and levamisole would be no exception.  Depending on the molecular weight of the substance, just running it through a coffee filter might help.  But with all that trouble, it might simpler just to brew up a simple cup of tea.  Just keep everything in moderation!

Contaminated Cocaine Can Cause Flesh to Rot: Yahoo News 

[1] Tolson, David.  HPBCD Basics.  Retrieved 6/2/10

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