In the first quarter of 2022, 260 samples declared as cocaine were handed in for analysis at the Drug Information Centre (DIZ) and during mobile operations in Zurich

Risk assessment

Cocaine is a substance with a comparatively high potential for harm and dependence. In addition to the known risks, the frequent occurrence of pharmacologically active extender substances, especially for regular users, means an additional health risk that is difficult to assess. These are rarely acute side effects, but primarily long-term effects. The evaluation shows that even samples with a high cocaine content often contained pharmacologically active extenders. In addition, the strongly fluctuating cocaine content is an often underestimated consumption risk. The higher the cocaine content, the greater the risk of overdose. High-dose cocaine can be a heavy burden on the cardiovascular system and, under certain circumstances and physical conditions, trigger a heart attack or stroke. Information and recommendations for low-risk use can be found on under cocaine safer-use.

Cocaine content

In the first quarter of 2022, the average cocaine content of the samples analysed at the DIZ or in the context of mobile drug checking was 81.9 % cocaine*HCl. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, the average active substance content increased by 0.4 %. The cocaine content of the samples analysed varied greatly and ranged between 18.1 % and 99.9 %.

Pharmacologically active extender

Cocaine is often a mixture of cocaine and one or more extenders. Some of these extenders are not pharmacologically active (e.g. lactose, starch, cellulose) and have no additional effects on health. However, the extenders are often chosen in such a way that a higher cocaine content is simulated and an effect enhancement and/or prolongation is induced.

In the first quarter of 2022, 27.7 % of all cocaine samples handed in for analysis at the DIZ and during mobile operations were laced with at least one pharmacologically active substance. Levamisole was added most frequently (in 23.1 % of the samples). Other extenders were caffeine (6.5 %), various local anaesthetics (4.2 %), phenacetin (3.8 %) and paracetamol (0.4 %).

Distribution of extenders in cocaine samples, in percent,
1st quarter 2022 (n=260)

The detailed evaluation with additional information on the extenders can be found below under Downloads.


Article from

Mentioned substances

Matching warnings

This might also interest you