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  • Fake cocaine is likely made with synthetic cathinones or “bath salts.” Just like real cocaine, fake cocaine can increase energy and alertness. These effects are similar to those of other drugs like amphetamines, methamphetamine, and MDMA. Fake cocaine often resembles the appearance of real cocaine making it difficult to identify.

    The most common ingredients in fake cocaine are classified as schedule I controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means ingredients in fake cocaine have no approved medical use, have a high potential for abuse, and can lead to psychological and physical dependence.

    Fake cocaine is also abused in the same way as regular cocaine, including by snorting, swallowing, or preparing and injecting the substance.

    How To Identify Fake Cocaine

    Fake cocaine is usually made with synthetic cathinones, which are also found in bath salts. The synthetic cathinone likely used is methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV). Beyond that, fake cocaine can include literal rocks or stones, bath salts, and baking soda.

    Fake cocaine can also come in multiple different forms, not just a powder. You may find it in capsules, tablets, or small crystals made to look like crack cocaine. It can look shockingly like the real thing. 


    One way to tell fake cocaine from the real thing is the color. Fake cocaine is often brown or light tan compared to the real thing which is usually a white powder.


    You may also be able to tell fake from real based on what’s on the outside of the bag. Fake cocaine will may have “bath salts,” “for novelty use only,” “plant food,” or “not for human consumption” on the outside of the bag

    However, what the substance looks like depends on how it’s been produced and/or modified. 

    Risks Of Fake Cocaine

    Fake cocaine use comes with a lot of risks, including addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fake cocaine, just like the drug it’s trying to imitate, is very addictive.

    Overdose is another risk associated with fake cocaine. It can be nearly impossible to know what you’re actually taking and how much of each ingredient is in the mixture, which makes an accidental overdose very easy.

    Some other common risks that can occur when you continually take fake cocaine include:

    • tolerance
    • dependence
    • vascular damage
    • muscular damage
    • difficulty breathing
    • heart attack
    • stroke
    • psychosis 
    • kidney failure

    Side Effects Of Fake Cocaine

    Beyond the risks that come with fake cocaine, there are side effects as well. The side effects can occur very quickly, and the most common include:

    • rapid heart rate
    • high blood pressure
    • chest pain
    • kidney failure
    • dehydration
    • breakdown of muscle tissue
    • paranoia 
    • hallucinations
    • panic attacks
    • excited delirium
    • reduced inhibition

    Signs Of Fake Cocaine Use

    If you believe someone you love is using fake cocaine, the signs of fake cocaine use can include:

    • changes in mood
    • dilated pupils
    • restlessness
    • hallucinations
    • anger/agitation
    • delusions
    • paranoia
    • violent behavior
    • presence of drug paraphernalia
    • neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
    • financial problems

    Because synthetic cantinoes are addictive and likely more powerful than real cocaine, if you take it over a long period of time, your body can become dependent on it. 

    Once you’ve built up a dependence,  if you try to quit the drug, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms may occur. 

    If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, please contact Ark Behavioral Health. We offer a variety of inpatient and outpatient treatment options, including behavioral therapy, peer support, and more.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on October 20, 2022
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