Cocaine Evaluation 2021

Cocaine (benzoylecgonine methyl ester) is obtained from the leaves of the South American coca bush (Erythroxylon coca). Cocaine is counted among the group of stimulants.
In 2021, 783 samples declared as cocaine were handed in for analysis at the Drug Information Centre (DIZ) in Zurich. In three mobile drug checkings carried out in the city of Zurich, an additional 31 samples declared as cocaine have been handed in and analysed. The results published here are not representative for the entire cocaine market in the city of Zurich.
In 2021, the average cocaine content of the samples analysed at the DIZ and at the mobile drug checkings was 76.3 % cocaine*HCl. Compared to the previous year, a decrease of 3.7 % of the average active substance content can be noted. The cocaine content of the samples analysed varied greatly and was between 6.8 % and 100
Of the 783 samples declared as cocaine, about one third (32.4%) were laced with at least one pharmacologically active substance. The deworming agent levamisole was analysed in about every fourth sample in 2021. Levamisole is added to cocaine, among other things, to prolong or intensify the cocaine effect. Use, especially regular use of levamisole, can be detrimental to health in addition to the already high exposure potential of cocaine.
Furthermore, an increase in cocaine samples containing various local anaesthetics (such as procaine or lidocaine) was observed in 2021. Local anaesthetics are used as extender due to their anaesthetic effect and feign a high purity content with their anaesthetic effect. Intravenous consumption of cocaine mixed with local anaesthetics is particularly dangerous. This can lead to paralysis of the central nervous system and delay or blockage of the cardiac excitation conduction system between the atria and the ventricles.

Conclusion 2021

- The active ingredient content in the analysed cocaine samples varies greatly, which makes it extremely difficult to dose cocaine at a lower risk without drug checking.
- Cocaine is a substance with a comparatively high potential for harm and dependence. The fact that a sample does not contain any extender should by no means lead to the conclusion that the consumption of this sample is harmless.
- Despite the high proportion of active ingredient, around every third sample in 2021 also contained a pharmacologically active extender.
- In the scene and among experts, numerous myths about cocaine extenders (e.g. "rat poison") are circulating. The extenders detected in the DIZ in recent years have been constant and the corresponding fears cannot be confirmed. Extenders are not used to cause additional harm to users. They are used to optimise profits. The criteria for the use of extender are accordingly low purchase price, availability, similar chemical properties (melting point), similar appearance and effect enhancement (to pretend a better quality).

More information and details can be found in the detailed report below. In addition, the most important information is summarised compactly on a graphic.


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