How Is Crack Cocaine Used (Route Of Administration)?

The most common and well-known method of using crack cocaine is smoking it, though it can also be administered in other ways. The method of using crack cocaine may have an effect on what side effects are felt and what risks are involved, though all use of crack can lead to addiction and overdose risk.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


The way someone uses crack cocaine will depend on a few factors, but this usually depends on availability and preference.

Regardless of personal preference, crack cocaine tends to be cheaper and more available than white powder cocaine.

Cocaine and crack cocaine are usually used in different ways, and the form of cocaine will affect the use of cocaine.

Smoking Crack Cocaine

The most common and popular method of using crack cocaine is smoking it. To smoke crack, a person heats crack and inhales its vapors.

People may use a glass pipe or stem (crack pipe), or a homemade device such as a piece of tin foil and a straw.

Crack gets its name from the crackling sound it makes when heated. Sometimes, you may also hear it called freebase cocaine.

To smoke crack cocaine, cocaine first has to be converted from cocaine powder into crack cocaine.

This is done by combining cocaine with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water, and boiling it down to a solid state.

Injecting Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine can be injected once the original solid form of crack has been dissolved into liquid form.

Unlike white powder cocaine hydrochloride, however, crack cocaine does not dissolve in water. Instead, it has to be dissolved in a slightly acidic solution.

Once the crack has been dissolved into a liquid solution, it can be injected directly into a vein or muscle using a needled syringe. This type of crack use causes a fast release of dopamine and euphoric effects.

Can You Snort Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine can be snorted as long as its solid rock form is first crushed down into a powdered form. When used this way, it takes longer to feel the crack’s effects, but the effects last longer.

Crack may be used in this way when someone doesn’t have the required paraphernalia for other methods, as this method requires no special tools.

Can You Eat Crack Cocaine?

It is also possible to eat crack cocaine, but there are no particular reasons why someone would want to.

The high from using crack this way would be very mild and also slow to take effect. It can also be very easy to overdose by eating crack.

If the purpose of using crack is to feel the rush that it provides, eating crack would not appeal to those who are using it.

Side Effects Of Crack Cocaine By Method Of Abuse

Crack cocaine is a stimulant drug that produces a lot of side effects, regardless of how it is used.

These include increased heart rate and blood pressure, dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, irritability, increased energy levels and alertness, and increased body temperature, to name a few.

Many side effects of crack cocaine abuse are unique to the method of use.

Side Effects Of Smoking Crack

People who choose this route of administration may have more damage to their lungs than with other methods.

It is also common for people who smoke crack to have burned lips and fingers from their constant handling of high flames.

Side Effects Of Injecting Crack

Injecting crack can cause unsightly track marks and possible open wounds and infections around the injection site.

Any time someone is using a needle to inject drugs, they are putting themselves at risk for serious infections, such as blood infections like sepsis, that can be fatal.

This risk is increased when people share needles or use dirty needles for injecting.

Side Effects Of Snorting Crack

Like cocaine, snorting crack can cause serious damage to a person’s nasal passages over time. You may notice that someone who snorts crack frequently has a runny or bloody nose, or that they tend to get sick more often.

One of the scariest side effects of snorting crack would be the development of “coke nose”. In this instance, a person develops a hole in the nasal septum.

Cocaine Toxicity From Eating Crack

Eating crack cocaine can be very dangerous and is known to cause cocaine toxicity, also known as a cocaine overdose.

Eating crack cocaine causes a mild and slow high compared to other methods of use, and a person using it may be tempted to keep taking more in a short period of time in order to feel stronger effects.

Unfortunately, a person may not realize how much they have eaten until it is too late.

Health Risks Of Crack Cocaine Use

No matter the route of administration, crack is an addictive stimulant.

Continued use can cause a variety of serious health conditions (in addition to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms), some of which are permanent and potentially fatal if left untreated.

Risks of long-term crack cocaine use with any method of use include:

  • damage to internal organs
  • tooth decay
  • hallucinations and psychosis
  • heart attack
  • depression and other mental health disorders
  • malnutrition
  • respiratory failure
  • infectious diseases
  • cocaine overdose

Addiction Treatment Programs For Crack Cocaine Abuse

No matter the route of administration, a crack cocaine addiction is a dangerous one, one that can take over your life completely. Fortunately, there is help out there for crack cocaine and other illicit drug use.

Treatment services for crack cocaine abuse include:

  • residential treatment
  • day treatment
  • medication management
  • medical detox
  • individual therapy
  • group therapy
  • peer support
  • relapse prevention support

Find Drug Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Making the decision to get substance abuse treatment for yourself or a loved one is an important first step in the recovery process. At Bedrock Recovery Center, we can help you every step of the way as you continue.

You are not alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our substance use treatment specialists when you are ready to start treatment for crack addiction or any other drug addiction.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine
  3. United States Drug Enforcement Administration — Cocaine

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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