Understanding Crack Cocaine

Crack Cocaine is a hard, mineral-like substance with an off-white tint. Crack Cocaine is made by mixing baking soda or ammonia into the powder form of Cocaine. This mixture is then heated with a lighter or torch until it heats into Crack Cocaine. It is most often vaporized in a glass pipe (often called a stem or a rose because they are sold with a rose inside of them) and inhaled, though some people use soda cans or aluminum foil to heat it. Many users also inject Crack Cocaine; the incredibly destructive effects of this form of Crack Cocaine abuse cannot be overstated.

Crack cocaine is the purer form of Cocaine, but on the streets is often “cut” or “mixed” with other substances.

- Ashish Bhatt, MD. Addiction Center's Medical Content Director

Crack Cocaine’s name comes from the crackling or popping sound it makes when heated. Other names for it include Rock(s), Base, Candy, Cookies, Kryptonite, Sleet, Hard, or most commonly, Crack.

Crack Cocaine Effects And Abuse

As an illicit substance, any use of Crack Cocaine is considered abuse. Because it is smoked (rather than snorted through the nose), the drug reaches the brain more quickly and produces an intense and immediate high. This high, however, is short-lived.

The effects of Crack Cocaine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tension
  • Confidence

Due to its potency, there is a high risk of fatal overdose from using Crack Cocaine. Even someone using the drug for the first time can overdose.

Behavioral changes are often the first signs someone is using an illicit substance such as Crack Cocaine. Someone using Crack Cocaine can appear psychotic, an experience paranoid, delusional, aggressive, anxious, and isolative periods.

- Ashish Bhatt, MD. Addiction Center's Medical Content Director

An overdose is typically preceded by dilated pupils and sweating. Someone who has overdosed may exhibit anxiety, aggression, seizures, rapid heart rate, chest pain, nausea, hallucinations, and/or stroke. Additionally, those with kidney problems or high blood pressure have a higher risk of fatal complications caused by smoking Crack Cocaine.

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Addiction To Crack Cocaine

Crack Cocaine is far more potent and addictive than regular Cocaine. An addiction to Crack Cocaine therefore develops quite rapidly, and some people become addicted after their first instance of Crack Cocaine abuse. Because the high they experience is so pleasurable — and so short — they need more of the drug to maintain it. Eventually, an addiction is born; the user needs the drug to simply feel normal.

Coming off crack is often followed by intense periods of depression and irritability known as “crashes”. Physical problems from crack can include increased hear rate, blood pressure, sweating, body temperature, as well as heart damage, strokes, heart attacks, seizures, and death.

- Ashish Bhatt, MD. Addiction Center's Medical Content Director

This happens because Crack Cocaine sets off excess amounts of the happiness-inducing chemical, dopamine, in the brain. With habitual Crack Cocaine use, the natural production of dopamine is diminished as the body becomes dependent upon the drug.

Strong cravings for Crack Cocaine along with the desire to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms make it very hard to quit. People addicted to Crack Cocaine tend to ignore the negative consequences caused by their drug use.

Turning To Crack

Crack Cocaine is rarely used by the uninitiated. Many times, Crack Cocaine is used by people who are already addicted to Cocaine. In contrast to Cocaine, often considered a drug of the wealthy, Crack Cocaine is fairly cheap. This makes it accessible to all types of people — especially those in particularly vulnerable circumstances. But as addicts need more of the drug to perpetuate their high, a Crack Cocaine addiction can spiral into a habit that costs between hundreds and thousands of dollars a week to maintain.

Crack Abuse Statistics

Because Crack Cocaine is an illegal substance, statistics on its use and abuse are estimations based on the information that is available.



Crack Cocaine was the primary drug of abuse in 178,475 admissions to treatment in 2006, representing 71% of all primary Cocaine admissions to treatment that year.



Approximately 7,840,000 people in a 2004 survey had used Crack Cocaine at some point in their lifetime.



Regular Crack Cocaine users (those who have used Crack in the last 30 days) represent 0.2% of the total population.

Escaping Crack’s Grip

Just as your brain can be rewired into feeling like Crack Cocaine is the only form of pleasure in the world, it can also be wired back to its original and healthy state through appropriate treatment. Contact a treatment provider today.

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