Cocaine content remains high, slight decline in extenders

The DIZ publishes quarterly evaluations of cocaine samples tested at the DIZ and at mobile outreach sites. This is to supplement the annual evaluations and to raise awareness of the specific risks associated with cocaine use. The results published here are not representative of the entire substance market in the city of Zurich.

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 extenders poses an additional health risk that is difficult to assess, especially for regular users. These are rarely acute side effects, but primarily long-term effects. The evaluation shows that even samples with high cocaine content frequently contained pharmacologically active extenders. In addition, the highly fluctuating cocaine content represents an often underestimated consumption risk. The higher the cocaine content, the greater the risk of overdose. High-dose cocaine can also place 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 consumption can be found here.

In the third quarter of 2023 (July to September), 230 samples declared as cocaine were handed in for analysis at the Drug Information Center (DIZ) and at three mobile drug checkings in Zurich. In this quarter, the average cocaine content of the analyzed samples was 87.5% cocaine. Compared to the second quarter of 2023, the average drug content remained virtually identical with a minimal increase of 0.1 %. The cocaine content of the samples analyzed varied widely, ranging from 18.5 % to 100 %.

In the third quarter of 2023, 12.6 % of the above cocaine samples were laced with at least one pharmacologically active substance. This corresponds to a decrease of 2.2 %.

Compared to the last quarter, a more even distribution among the extenders can be observed. In the last quarter, levamisole was clearly the most common extender; this is less pronounced in the third quarter. The most common extender in the third quarter is procaine (in 10 samples), followed by caffeine (in 9 samples), levamisole (in 8 samples) and phenacetin (in 3 samples). In addition, one sample was tested that contained 11% methamphetamine in addition to cocaine.

Detailed information on cocaine extenders as well as SaferUse tips can be found on our website.


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