Substance Use

What is Fish Scale Cocaine?

pure cocaine with needle

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What Is Fish Scale Cocaine?

While its prevalence was greater in the 1980s, fish scale cocaine can still be found on the black market. It is a purer form of cocaine with a typical potency of 90% compared to most cocaine at 60%. It’s named for its shiny, iridescent appearance.

Fish scale cocaine has nothing to do with fish or the ocean. Rather, it’s a very pure form of cocaine named for its iridescent appearance that resembles the scales of a fish.

Being purer than cocaine hydrochloride, fish scale cocaine is more expensive, and its potency puts users at a higher risk of overdose.

Here’s what you need to know about fish scale cocaine and why it’s not as popular as it used to be.

If you or someone you love is addicted to cocaine, Zinnia Health can help. We offer personalized treatment services to help individuals work through the recovery process on their own timeline. Ready to learn more? Call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 and get answers to your questions.

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What You Should Know About Fish Scale Cocaine

On the black market, cocaine hydrochloride — which is the typical white powder people find when buying cocaine — is generally only 60% pure. Still, it’s purer than crack cocaine, which is cocaine hydrochloride mixed with baking soda to form rocks. However, there is an even more potent option called fish scale cocaine.

Fish scale cocaine is often 2-3 times more expensive than cocaine hydrochloride. Typically, fish scale cocaine is 90% pure. This means that it contains far fewer cutting agents and additives. As a result, people use fish scale cocaine in all sorts of ways, including snorting, smoking, injecting, and dissolving into beverages.

There are no additional side effects of fish scale cocaine, but you will find that the side effects are more severe since this form of cocaine is more potent than others. While it’s still not entirely pure cocaine, it’s important to be aware of the heightened risk of overdose.

How Is Fish Scale Cocaine Different?

“Regular cocaine” sold on the open market is cut with all sorts of additives to bring down the cost. These cutting agents can range from cornstarch to sugar — basically any cheap white powder that will blend in when mixed with cocaine hydrochloride.

One of the risks of regular cocaine is that a high amount (potentially 40%) of cutting agents and additives can lead to unexpected and adverse side effects. Namely, the risk is that you’ll never know what the cocaine has been cut with.

Especially for people who dissolve cocaine and inject it, additives can make for a dangerous concoction. This isn’t to say that fish scale cocaine is any safer. In fact, due to its potency, it comes with increased risks of addiction, severe side effects, and overdose.

If you were to look at fish scale cocaine and regular cocaine side by side, you would notice a key difference in how they look. The fish scale cocaine will have a luminance to it, with almost a sheen or pearly finish. Regular cocaine is just a white or off-white powder.

Are you prepared to take the next step? Zinnia Health can help. Our team is standing by to answer your questions about cocaine addiction treatment and recovery. Just call our helpline at (855) 430-9439 for more information.

Where Does Fish Scale Cocaine Come From?

Colombia has long been the top producer of cocaine, but Peru has been closing the gap over the last few years. Bolivia is also a common source, and fish scale cocaine that comes from Bolivia is often called “Bolivian flake.”

Fish scale cocaine isn’t as common as it used to be, but you can still find it. It was most popular in the 1980s before the DEA and other governing bodies really began cracking down on drug trafficking.

In that time period, kilo bricks of pure cocaine were coming into the country by the truckload. Many dealers avoided cutting agents back then, selling pure cocaine at a premium price. When these packed kilo bricks of powder were broken down, the cocaine flaked apart, creating something that resembled fish scales.

Due to the high cost of pure cocaine, dealers are unlikely to have it on hand as it’s not in great demand. If you do find fish scale cocaine, it is likely in powder form with somewhere around a 90% purity after being cut with some substance, like talcum powder or flour.

You should also be wary of cocaine containing a chemical known as levamisole. This chemical has been increasingly used as an additive to cocaine to produce a “fish scale” appearance. Not only does it bulk up the cocaine, but it can sustain the effects of cocaine longer. However, cocaine with levamisole also has a range of complications directly attributable to the chemical.

Dangers of Fish Scale Cocaine

The side effects of fish scale cocaine aren’t any different than other types of cocaine, but there’s one important difference. If you’re switching from typical cocaine that has a purity of around 60% and you decide to take fish scale cocaine with a purity upward of 90%, you can’t take nearly as much.

No amount of cocaine use is considered safe, but one of the biggest risks of fish scale cocaine is that there is a much greater chance of overdosing on the drug.

Long-term cocaine users may assume they know what dose they can handle, but if you’re dealing with a much higher potency, you have to be very careful.

In large quantities, a stimulant drug like cocaine can cause:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart attack
  • Kidney failure
  • Seizures

Knowing the signs of overdose can save a life, but the even safer choice is to get away from recreational drug use for good. If you or a loved one is currently dealing with substance abuse, Zinnia Health can help.

Treatment Options for Cocaine Addiction

High-potency cocaine can lead to a stronger addiction, greater risks, and more severe withdrawal symptoms in between uses. If you’re tired of the addiction cycle, Zinnia Health can help you find the path forward.

At our state-of-the-art rehab center, we offer a combination of inpatient and outpatient programs customized to meet the needs of the individual. Our caring, experienced recovery specialists offer:

  • Medication-assisted drug detox (MAT)
  • One-on-one guidance and support throughout your recovery
  • Treatment for co-occurring disorders, including severe depression
  • Guided peer support groups and family counseling

If you’re ready to move forward with treatment, Zinnia Health can help. Just dial (855) 430-9439 to reach our team any time, day or night, and get on the path to addiction recovery. 

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