Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug. The powdered hydrochloride salt form of cocaine can be snorted or dissolved in water and injected. Crack is cocaine base that has not been neutralized by an acid to make the hydrochloride salt. This form of cocaine comes in a rock crystal that is heated to produce vapors, which are smoked. The term “crack” refers to the crackling sound produced by the rock as it is heated.
In the 1970s cocaine was expensive and considered a “status” drug. The introduction of inexpensive crack increased the accessibility of this substance, and this drug has become the drug of choice for many drug users, especially for inner-city disadvantaged youth. Crack’s convenience, ease of concealment, wide availability, and low cost has increased its use. The fact that this drug is smoked rather than snorted or injected (ingestion methods associated with the stigma of being a “junkie”) has contributed to its popularity.
One gram of pure powder cocaine will convert to approximately 0.89 grams of crack. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that crack rocks are between 75 and 90 percent pure cocaine.
What is the difference between crack and cocaine?
Crack is made from cocaine in a process called freebasing, in which cocaine powder is cooked with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to create rocks, chips, or chunks that can be smoked. The term crack refers to the crackling sound that is heard when the mixture is smoked. Crack is usually smoked in a pipe. Because it’s smoked, crack cocaine effects are felt more quickly and they are more intense than those of powder cocaine. However, the effects of smoked this drug are shorter lived than the effects of snorted powder cocaine.
Short term effects
The short term effects of crack can be felt upon the users initial hit. The individual begins to feel the effects of the substance immediately. The user experiences an increase in energy, body temperature, mental alertness, heart rate, constricted blood vessels, as well as a decrease in appetite.
These temporary effects of the drug are as short lived as the users high. Because this drug is smoked, causing it to travel through the blood up to the brain much faster than cocaine which is snorted, the user experiences these short term effects more intensely. The duration and intensity of these short term effects of crack are based on the amount of crack that is used.
The short term effects of the drug include but are not limited to:
Magnification of pleasure, euphoria
Alertness and in some cases – hyper-alertness
Increased and sometimes a grandiose sense of well being
Lower social inhibitions: more sociable and talkative
Heightened energy, self-esteem, sexuality and emotions aroused by interpersonal experiences
Crack long term effects
The long term effects of this drug affect the user physically, mentally, and emotionally. An individual’s long term effects from crack vary from person to person depending on their length and intensity of abuse.
In general, the long term effects include:
particularly aggressive paranoid behavior
Terror of impending death
Extreme weight loss
Chronic sore throat
Shortness of breath
Emphysema and other lung damage
Suppressed desire for food, sex, friends, family, and social contacts