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What is Fish Scale Cocaine?

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 5 million people reported using cocaine in 2021.[1] 

Many people who manufacture or sell illicit cocaine tend to use adulterants or fillers to spread their product out, allowing them to make more money off of a smaller amount of cocaine. Common fillers used in cocaine include flour, baking soda, or talcum powder.

However, there is a type of cocaine that is known for being pure. This form of cocaine is referred to as “fish scale cocaine” because of its shiny, scale-like appearance.

How is Cocaine Made?

Cocaine is made from coca leaves that are found in parts of South America, like Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia.[2] The coca is extracted from the leaves to create cocaine hydrochloride. Originally, cocaine was used in Western medicine as an anesthetic because it has powerful numbing properties.

Over time, people in America began to realize that cocaine is habit-forming and addictive. This caused cocaine to become a popular drug of abuse in the 1970s. While cocaine is still used medicinally, this is very rare.

When illicit drug manufacturers make cocaine, they usually put fillers or adulterants in it to make more money, so cocaine is rarely pure. However, if you are abusing fish scale cocaine you are abusing one of the most pure forms of the substance available. 

What are the Effects of Cocaine?

People abuse cocaine because it can cause a rush of euphoria and high levels of energy. Even if you are not abusing a pure form of cocaine, you can still experience an intense high. This makes the drug attractive for many different types of people struggling with substance use disorders.

The common effects of cocaine include:[3]

  • Euphoria 
  • Increased energy
  • Talkativeness 
  • Mental alertness 
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Decreased need for food or sleep 
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Increased body temperature 
  • Heightened heart rate and blood pressure 
  • Restlessness, anxiety, or panic 
  • Tremors and muscle twitches 
  • Aggressive or manic behavior

While some people might feel talkative and euphoric on cocaine, others may become anxious, paranoid, and aggressive. Additionally, the effects of cocaine can lead to dangerous heart issues and life-threatening overdoses.

What is Fish Scale Cocaine?

Fish-scale cocaine got its name because of its appearance. It has shiny flakes in it that resemble the scales of fish. Because fish scale cocaine is more pure than cocaine hydrochloride, it is more expensive and more potent, putting you at increased risk of adverse side effects or overdose.

Fish scale cocaine was most popular in the 1980s, however, some people can still get their hands on it. This version of cocaine is usually about 90% pure, whereas everyday formulations of the drug sit at about 60%.[4] 

Because of the purity of fish-scale cocaine, people might smoke, snort, inject, or dissolve the substance into a beverage. Although fish scale cocaine produces the same effects as cocaine hydrochloride, the effects are stronger.

Spotting The Signs of a Cocaine Overdose 

Regardless of what type of cocaine you use, an overdose is possible.

If you or someone you love displays the following signs of a cocaine overdose, contact 911 immediately:[5]

  • Increased blood pressure and body temperature 
  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Twitching and tremors 
  • Seizures
  • A bluish tint of lips or fingernails 
  • Heart attack or stroke 
  • Headaches 
  • Chest pain 
  • Excessive teeth grinding 
  • Extreme talkativeness 
  • Severe aggression 
  • Hyperactivity and restlessness 
  • Paranoia and confusion 
  • Respiratory or kidney failure 

If you or a loved one are addicted to cocaine, it’s time to seek help from a drug rehab program. 

Find Help for Cocaine Abuse and Addiction 

Cocaine addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome, especially when you are surrounded by substance abuse. Thankfully, inpatient rehab programs can provide you with the separation from your environment that you need to focus on sobriety. 

At Mandala Healing Center, we can provide you with the tools and support necessary to achieve long-term recovery from cocaine addiction. To learn more about how we can help, contact us today. 


  1. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States, Retrieved September 2023 From
  2. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA): Coca, Retrieved September 2023 From
  3. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA): What are the short-term effects of cocaine use, Retrieved September 2023 From
  4. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Correlation between Cocaine Prices and Purity with Trends in Emergency Department Visits in a Major Metropolitan Area, Retrieved September 2023 From
  5. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Cocaine Toxicity, Retrieved September 2023 From