NCIDU 2010 – Day Two – Adulteration of illicit drugs and Analysis of crack cocaine

NCIDU 2010 – Day Two

What do we know about the adulteration of illicit drugs? Claire Cole, Honorary Lecturer for Public Health

Claire began by distinguishing between Adulterants, Contaminants and Dilutants.

Adulterants – pharmacologically active ingredients

Contaminants – by-products of manufacturing

Dilutants – inert substances added to provide bulk

There are perception and myths around the adulteration of drugs that include the idea that there are adulterants added at every step. Apparently the evidence does not actually comply with the perception that all adulteration is ‘haphazard or toxic’.

She then divided the substances again: –

Benign substances – which add bulk and are relatively cheap and in low doses relatively safe such as Caffeine, Sugar, Paracetamol

Enhancing or Mimicking – substances which give similar effects or feelings as the drugs they’re being sold as, and may have the same taste or look

Substances that facilitate administration – For example substances that make a drug easier to smoke or inject etc.

There can also be adulteration from poor manufacturing processes which increases by products and residues. Bacteria may also be present due to unsterile and unsafe manufacturing spaces.

Some common adulterants Claire mentioned by drug type: –

Amphetamines – heavily contaminated with Caffeine at importation stage

Cocaine – Levamisole pre import, Benzocaine post import

Crack – as Cocaine plus Phenacetin

Heroin – Caffeine and Paracetamol.

Dealers have moved away from inert substances in favour of pharmaceutical substances.

Harm Reduction Messages

–           Early warning systems would be useful

–           A standardised reporting system

–           Evidence based intervention

–           Improved awareness and general information available especially for emergency services and drug treatment personnel

You can see the full presentation here.

Harm Reduction Advice based on lab analysis of crack cocaine adulteration – Jenny Scott, Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy Practice, University of Bath

Jenny Scott fed back on an analysis of Crack Cocaine in Swindon following an anecdotal report of low quality Crack.

A team analysed 50 samples of Crack in total.

Some of the findings were as follows:

80% contained Cocaine

20% contained no Cocaine at all (5 were Heroin, 1 possibly citric acid and 4 unknown)

Average purity was 39%

81% also contained Phenacetin (which can be toxic to the liver)

8% Benzocaine

8% Glucose

3% Mannitol

You can see the full presentation here.


Posted on October 25, 2010, in Drugs and Alcohol, Harm Reduction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Stace.
    Another great post, given me an idea on Bacterial infections.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: