Cocaine: identification through tests, sensory ID
You may have seen a movie or TV show in which a policeman licks his index finger, wipes it into a bag of white substance with practice, and then pensively licks the remains of the powder. This technique was most likely not taught during police academy.
You may remember this scene where a similar situation happens not just near your house but right in the laundry room of your own house while holding a similar bag in your hand.
You picked it up from the floor where it fell out of your son’s jeans pocket, annoyed at first that you almost threw some trash in the washing machine. But a closer look shows that there is a loose powder in it.
Somehow you set it aside for a minute and finish loading the machine. A few minutes later you are sitting on the couch with the bag across from you on the coffee table. How are you?
Wondering if a loved one is putting themselves in danger can be terrifying. They may also be nervous that discussing the topic will lead to an argument or possibly cause the person to leave the house. And when they leave the house, how do you know if they’re okay?
Addiction of any substance is scary for everyone involved. Cocaine addiction is the fourth largest addiction in Texas after alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs.
Science helps law enforcement agencies identify cocaine and other drugs
Science has helped police break away from the aforementioned old school ID tactic while working in the field.
Police are now using chemical color test kits that allow them to run a makeshift science laboratory on site to identify cocaine. This is often done with the suspected cocaine, also known as cola or crack, during traffic controls on a hood, as seen on the now-discontinued A&E show “Live PD”.
The kits can provide them with evidence on the spot to support an arrest on drug possession, alcohol driving, or other charges. The remaining sample has yet to be tested in the crime lab.
Although safety precautions can be taken, the tests still leave officers vulnerable to inhalation or touching of particles. Even if their suspect claims the substance is cocaine, it could be a different substance or cocaine cut with something like fentanyl, which is becoming more common.
Fentanyl-laced cocaine can cause an overdose
Drugs like fentanyl have many law enforcement agencies on high alert, fearing that very small amounts could lead to overdose or death. A person may receive a laced substance with a cocaine look and not know they were laced with fentanyl. But a doctor at Johns Hopkins Hospital said exposure doesn’t mean they absorb a harmful dose or exposure to toxic levels.
“Drugs like fentanyl and analogs of fentanyl are not absorbed very well through the skin at all,” said Dr. Andrew Stolbach, a medical toxicologist and emergency physician, of the Detroit Free Press. “Such brief, accidental contact will not result in someone absorbing a therapeutic dose, let alone a toxic dose.”
Contradicting views on the matter were expressed in the article titled “Cops Say Touching Fentanyl Makes Them Sick. Doctors say it’s impossible. ”
New technologies with in-vehicle scanning devices are now paving the way for a safer field test that does not require opening bags. Instead, the officer can cross out the exterior of the baggie, similar to baggage control at the airport for explosive devices.
Home cocaine identification test kits serve several purposes
Home test kits contain sealed glass containers called ampoules into which you can insert a sample. If the color turns blue, this is a positive cocaine ID and, according to the manufacturer, up to 99% accurate.
Tests are available in sales tents at music festivals or in pharmacies and can be lifesaving by showing the presence of additives. The United States Postal Service (USPS) prohibits the delivery of test kits due to the chemicals used. That decision forced Amazon to stop selling test kits as it relied on the USPS for some shipments. But the shipping giant also has to adhere to U.S. federal, state, and local laws, which can vary by jurisdiction.
The legal tests for the illegal drug reveal the gray area that exists when healthcare, law enforcement, and some segments of the public know that illegal behavior will continue to occur. Some law enforcement agencies may look the other way when they acknowledge someone is trying to minimize health hazards and others may view it as drug paraphernalia.
Why would anyone want to test at home? There is a surprising range of answers to this question.
Identifying suspected cocaine at home provides privacy
As in the aforementioned situation, a parent or loved one might find a cocaine-like bag in a coat pocket or backpack and be concerned about their child or spouse.
- Before confronting them with the worst possible suspicions, they may prefer to understand what they are dealing with in order to avoid lying and to better address the problem.
- Data protection and confidentiality are also important issues due to the health effects, possible legal consequences and the stigma of drug addiction.
Harm reduction strategies minimize the likelihood of a drug overdose
The term harm reduction is well known in the substance realm, but may be new to those outside the realm. It refers to strategic measures to limit the potential for harm if a person intends to continue using a substance – in this case cocaine.
Home test kits could be a way to determine if the substance is pure and not at the risk of overdosing on the undisclosed fentanyl in cocaine. Others may want to see how pure their product is to make sure it hasn’t been cut with another substance. The test may not provide undeniable accuracy when multiple substances are involved.
The truth is, because cocaine is unregulated and home kits can be subject to user error, there is no way you can be 100% sure that what you believe is cocaine is actually pure cocaine.
Using your senses to find out what cocaine looks, smells and tastes like
Cocaine is a naturally occurring chemical found in the leaves of the coca plant, which is commonly found in South America. The leaves were chewed by the indigenous peoples for centuries to stay vigilant during labor-intensive work or to avoid altitude sickness.
Aside from the test kits, many people have seen pictures of cocaine and would likely describe it as a white powder. However, at first glance, unless the substance is used and you know how it will make you feel, you cannot be sure. Most people describe these effects as euphoric and feel confident, powerful, alert and energetic. However, people who do not use cocaine have to rely on the basic human senses.
Unchanged cocaine that is not used pharmaceutically appears flaky and grainy in texture. The color is more of a cream color and tinted slightly towards cream or brown.
Medical grade cocaine hydrochloride comes as a topical agent that is applied to the mouth, nose, or throat as an anesthetic during medical procedures. Vision detection usually comes from how it is applied, generally by spray, patches of skin, a cotton applicator, or instilled into a tooth cavity.
“Chopped” cocaine indicates that additives or solvents have been processed, giving it a smoother, buttery consistency and a pure white appearance.
On online forums, people describe the taste of cocaine using a range of adjectives ranging from bitter to no taste. These descriptions could be related to the fact that as a narcotic, you are typically unable to taste cocaine on a taste bud. It can be rubbed along the gums to test the tell-tale numbing sensation. Bitterness can be caused by solvents used during the processing stage or by the residual taste of the coca leaf.
If you have paper money, you might be surprised to learn that 67-100% of all money in circulation contains traces of cocaine. This can be checked by K-9 units, which warn of cocaine smell during raids. You have likely seen a movie or TV show that shows someone snorting cocaine through a “straw” made by rolling up a dollar bill.
Although we are less sensitive to smell than dogs, humans can still smell a smell, but that’s generally due to the additives used in making coca leaves into a paste. These additives include ammonia and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Solvents such as ethers are also used in further production.
Purity is always an issue, with some estimates suggesting that cocaine is reduced by 80% with additives for cost reasons. One study found that 40% of cocaine contained levamisole, a drug that is not sold in the United States and is used to treat animals against parasitic worms. The real insight into whether cocaine can be identified by smell is that you can smell something but you are not sure what it is exactly.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Texas
When you use cocaine, the difficulty of knowing exactly what you are adding to your body can make you wonder whether you want to continue taking risks to your health. It may have started from a place that you wanted to experiment, but now it affects your daily life. This is where cocaine rehab comes in, and Northpoint can help.
Consider some of these questions related to your cocaine use:
- Does it lead to making risky decisions, such as driving under the influence of alcohol?
- Are you focused on supporting your habit and having financial problems?
- Do you have withdrawal symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, irritability, anxiety, depression, or loss of appetite?
- Do you have consumption-related problems in your social, professional or school life?
- Has your tolerance increased and how much do you have to take to feel the effects of cocaine?
- Have you tried to quit but keep coming back to cocaine? Does it frustrate you?
These are a few examples, but not all of the criteria used when considering the possibility of a diagnosis of cocaine addiction.