COCAINE on Bolton’s streets is so impure that anyone taking it is risking their life, drug chiefs say.
They are warning people to stay off the drug after discovering insecticides and pet worming powder are just some of the “cutting agents” being used to dilute cocaine — and make drug gangs higher profits.
Bolton’s Drugs Strategy Manager Sandie Saunders said: “It’s a bit like Russian Roulette.
“You may have been all right the past half-a-dozen times, but the next one might be the time that could kill you.”
She believes most users are ignorant of the risk they are taking when they roll up that bank note and snort a white line of the drug.
She said: “At the moment we are seeing a drop in purity levels. People still think that they are buying and taking cocaine but increasingly it is being mixed with a whole variety of other substances.”
According to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), among the most common cutting agents are pharmaceutical products which mimic the effect of cocaine, such as benzocaine and lignocaine, which are used to relieve pain in dentistry, and by vets.
Other substances mixed with cocaine include boric acid, which is an insecticide for cockroaches, and tetramisole hydrochloride, which is used as a pet-worming powder.
The drop in purity levels is being seen nationally, with forensics tests, carried out by SOCA, showing that some seized samples of the powder was only made up of five per cent cocaine.
Mrs Saunders said: “People need to inform themselves about these potentially severe health problems.”
Research has also revealed a potentially dangerous interaction between cocaine and alcohol when taken together.
The two drugs are converted by the body into a third drug, cocaethylene, which affects the brain for longer and is more toxic than either drug alone.
It puts an added strain on the body and raises the risk of damage to the liver and other parts of the body.
The chemical, thought to be responsible for an increase in heart attacks among the under-40s, builds up over a number of years in the livers of those who drink alcohol excessively while taking cocaine.
“Alcohol and cocaine powder are Bolton-wide — I think it’s becoming more culturally acceptable,” Mrs Saunders said.
But she added: “If you mix cocaine and alcohol, you are creating a dangerous cocktail inside your body.”
Mrs Saunders, who has helped developed a website to inform young people of the dangers of taking cocaine, added: “I don’t think people realise just how dangerous cocaine can be.”
Coke, or cocaine powder, is a white powder that is usually divided into lines on a smooth surface and snorted up the nose with a rolled up note or straw. It is not easily smoked. A gramme of coke powder generally costs £30 to £50 and is widely available. Street names for the drug include coke, Charlie, C, white, Percy, snow and toot. Taking cocaine makes users feel on top of the world. People taking it feel wide-awake and confident. Cocaine is a Class A drug — illegal to have, give away or sell. Possession can lead to up to seven years in jail. Supplying, including to friends, can lead to life in prison and an unlimited fine.
January 5, 2010
The Bolton News