In the fourth quarter of 2021, 185 samples declared as cocaine were handed in for analysis at the Drug Information Centre (DIZ) and during mobile operations in Zurich

Risk assessment

In addition to the known side effects and the great psychological dependence potential of cocaine, 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 consumption can be found at under cocaine safer-use .

Cocaine content

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the average cocaine content of the samples analysed at the DIZ or in the context of mobile drug checking was 81.5 % cocaine*HCl. Compared to the last quarter, the average active substance content has decreased by 0.2 %. The cocaine content of the samples analysed varied greatly and ranged between 28.3 % and 99.3 %.

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. Often, however, the extenders are chosen in such a way that a higher cocaine content is simulated and an intensification and/or prolongation of the effect is induced.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, 24.4 % 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 the most frequently added substance (21.7 % of the samples). Other extenders were various local anaesthetics (8.3 %), caffeine (3.9 %), phenacetin (2.8 %) and paracetamol (1.1 %).

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


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