Monday, June 20, 2011

When Research And Real Life Collide

Los Angeles, CA

So yesterday I'm digging around for some fun facts on cocaine for my next book. As far as you and my friends in law enforcement are aware (Hi Brent!), I've never done the stuff.

Really, I'm medicated enough as it is thank you very much.

Anyway, I ran into this interesting little tidbit on how since around 2002 more and more cocaine (50% of confiscated shipments in the U.S. and U.K. in 2009) has been cut with a drug called Levasimole. It's an anti-parasitic.

That's dewormer to you and me.

Really. You got a tapeworm, this is the stuff for you. It gets fed to pigs and cows on a regular basis to keep them bug free.

For a while the medical community was also looking at it as something to help with colon cancer. Something to do with its immunosuppresant qualities, but that didn't pan out and doctors have largely stopped using it.

Fun Fact #1. Nobody seems to know why they're putting it into cocaine. It doesn't seem to be a bulking agent, since there's just not that much in it. About 6%. It doesn't actually do much to enhance or mimic the high. It's not like you're putting Benzocaine in it to make your nose numb or Ritalin to make you speedy.

One theory is that it's a tracking chemical for inventory and shipping purposes. Like taggants in Semtex.

Fun Fact #2. It's been discovered that Levasimole in cocaine can make your face fall off and kill you.

See, one of the side-effects of Levasimole is that it can kill skin cells. Doctors have known about these potential side effects for some time (at least early 2009 from what I'm finding), which is another reason it's not used much on people.

And today, according to the L.A. Weekly:
A report published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology said six patients developed purple-colored patches of necrotic skin on their ears, nose, cheeks and other parts of their body and, in some instances, suffered permanent scarring after they had used cocaine.

Doctors in San Francisco had previously reported two similar cases there. Others have also reported on users of contaminated cocaine who developed a related life-threatening immune-system disorder called agranulocytosis, which kills 7 percent to 10 percent of patients.
And you thought cocaine was bad on its own...

Or knowing this crowd you probably didn't.

Anyway, in case you didn't know it before, stay away from the white powder drugs.

If they don't fuck you up, the cow dewormer will.


Jimmy Callaway said...

Man. Stephen "Wet Blanket" Blackmoore. Honey, if my face falls off, it could only be an improvement.

Gretchen Ash said...

Damn. And here I was hoping that a coke habit might work out better than ADD meds...

Ben said...

I think it was Waylon Jennings who said something like, Man, if I didn't have a family, I'd still be the happiest cokehead you ever saw. Which sums it up, I think. But no thank you on the face-falling-off drugs.

Thomas Pluck said...

Similar to fentanyl in heroin aka "China White" ... more powerful, but in the wrong doses or to new users, much more likely to OD. Caused a string of deaths in the '90s.

Garner Davis said...

If I didn't know it before, your post certainly brings the point home: drugs are nobody's friend. Makes me glad the days of experimentation are long behind me. I think it was Chef, on South Park, who said it best; and I paraphrase: Children, there's a time and place for drugs. It's called college.