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 crack are shorter lived than the effects of snorted powder cocaine.