What is Crack Cocaine?

Knowing what crack cocaine is, and its effects, is the first step in successful addiction recovery

what is crack addiction

Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are both illegal drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. Powder cocaine (typically referred to simply as “cocaine”) is a white powdery substance that is often snorted, and may also be injected; it is derived from coca leaves. Crack cocaine (typically referred to as “crack”) is a form of cocaine hydrochloride powder that has been chemically changed so that it can be smoked, rather than snorted.

The Truth

The key difference between cocaine and crack is that smoking crack delivers more of the drug to the brain faster than snorting cocaine. In essence, snorting cocaine is like drinking a glass of wine while smoking crack is like taking a shot of liquor. Both the wine and liquor can get a user drunk; the difference is that the liquor, like crack, delivers the substance faster to the body. Abusing both cocaine and crack can cause serious damage to the body and lead to addiction, and even death.

Four key differences between cocaine and crack:

  • Form: Crack is a white crystal rock, while cocaine is a white powder.
  • Effect time: After snorting cocaine, effects are felt 30 seconds later; after smoking crack, the effects are felt immediately after.
  • Cost: Crack cocaine is much less expensive than cocaine powder to produce; consequently, crack sells for less on the street.
  • Addiction: Both crack and cocaine are addictive substances; the route of use determines the intensity and duration of the drug’s effect. Smoking crack or injecting cocaine delivers a high much faster than snorting cocaine; consequently, smoking or injecting is more likely to lead to addiction than snorting.

How does crack affect the body?

Crack cocaine is processed by combining cocaine hydrochloride crystal with ammonia or baking soda. Smoking crack cocaine brings the drug’s vapor directly into the lungs where it enters the bloodstream. Smoking crack produces a faster, more intense high than snorting. Crack users experience the same periods of irritability, moodiness, and anxiety that cocaine users do, as well as paranoia and hallucinations. Crack alters an individual’s perception of reality, causing addicts to believe others are out to hurt them or cause real harm. Crack can cause serious damage to the lungs by constricting the blood vessels and preventing oxygen from circulating. Crack users suffer from a chronic cough, respiratory disorders, dramatic weight loss, and cracked lips from smoking a hot crack pipe.

Is crack more addictive than cocaine?

Both cocaine and crack are highly addictive, although crack users are more likely to become addicted faster than cocaine users. Cocaine stimulates the central nervous system, increasing levels of the brain chemical, dopamine. Under normal conditions, dopamine is released in response to pleasure. Cocaine use causes the brain to release large quantities of dopamine, flooding the brain’s dopamine receptors. This causes a euphoric high. Over time, however, repeated abuse dampens a user’s ability to experience euphoria and consequently get high. In a quest to recreate this high, abusers use increasingly greater amounts of cocaine or crack.

Some people mistakenly believe that cocaine is “less dangerous” than crack. Cocaine is seen as a party drug for occasional recreational use, while crack is considered to be a problem plaguing the inner city. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, however, powder cocaine is only slightly less addictive than crack cocaine. Abusing either substance puts users at risk for chemical dependency and psychological addiction. Since crack cocaine is less expensive, more widely available, and produces a faster high than powder cocaine, it is considered more addictive. However, both substances cause similar psychological and physiological effects. It is possible to become addicted to either substance.

Best Drug Rehab Can Help

If you or someone you love are struggling with a crack or cocaine addiction, Best Drug Rehabilitation Center can help. Detoxing from a crack or cocaine addiction can produce severe side effects. Our addiction treatment and detox specialist can help the user through the detox period and assist in managing withdrawal symptoms. Many users benefit from residential treatment programs that integrate supervised detox with behavioral therapy and rehabilitation. Our treatment programs help equip users with the skills they need to successfully avoid crack or cocaine and prevent relapse.

Without treatment, crack or cocaine addiction can cause serious health and relationship problems, and may even lead to death. Treatment offers hope that living a sober, productive lifestyle is possible. Contact Best Drug Rehabilitation today for more information on our programs available.

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