A table showing money and drugs cut with cutting agents

Drug use is risky business. Over 70,000 people in the United States lost their lives in the year 2017 alone to drug overdoses. (1) The reality is that there are simply no way to safely abuse drugs without a serious risk of overdose and/or death. One inherent danger in drug abuse is the fact that street drugs are almost never pure.

Here we go over some of the most common and dangerous drug cutting agents that are used today.


Fentanyl is the major culprit of the drug overdose epidemic, with over 28,000 deaths in 2017 A skull and cross bones to indicate the dangers of fentanylalone. (1) Fentanyl is an extremely powerful synthetic opioid that is approximately 100 times more potent than morphine.

To make matters worse, fentanyl is mostly used as a cutting agent rather than sold pure. Fentanyl has been found to be cut in almost every type of illicit drug, including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, counterfeit pills, and others. (2)


Phenacetin is a drug that is related to acetaminophen (Tylenol) that is commonly found cut with cocaine. Phenacetin is used to cut cocaine due to having a strong resemblance to powder cocaine.

Phenacetin, however, is not legally available on the market due to several dangerous health effects. Phenacetin is a cancer-causing chemical and has also been shown to cause severe kidney damage. (3)


In 2009, the DEA estimated that 69% of cocaine seized contained levamisole as a cutting agent. Levamisole was formerly used as cancer treatment medication until it was discovered that the side effects far outweighed the benefits. Levamisole causes skin necrosis (death), which can drastically harm someone snorting it. (4)

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Synthetic Cathinones

Synthetic cathinones, known as “bath salts”, are synthetic drugs that have stimulant effects. Synthetic cathinones cause several undesirable side effects, such as paranoia, delirium, hallucinations, and psychosis. Synthetic cathinones are often times found laced in other stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, ecstasy/molly, and methamphetamine. (5)

Rodenticides (aka Rat Poison)

Rodenticides, colloquially known as rat poisons, are chemicals used to poison small animals. Shockingly, rodenticides have been found laced in drugs such as cocaine, crack, synthetic marijuana, and synthetic cathinones. (6) In some cases, these caused serious health issues that required emergency room visits. (7)

Final Note

This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/sites/getsmartaboutdrugs.com/files/publications/DoA_2017Ed_Updated_6.16.17.pdf#page=40
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27860349
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22455354
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/synthetic-cathinones-bath-salts
  6. https://www.acepnow.com/article/tainted-synthetic-cannabis-leads-to-acquired-coagulopathy-outbreak/?singlepage=1&theme=print-friendly
  7. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM200108303450916