IV Crack Use: The Dangers Of Shooting Crack With Vinegar Or Lemon Juice

Crack cocaine is typically smoked, but it can also be injected once it has been converted into liquid form. However, shooting crack cocaine can be dangerous and comes with its own side effects and health risks.

Get Help Now!
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


While not the most common method for using crack, it is possible to inject crack intravenously if the proper tools and preparation methods are available.

Injection of crack cocaine, however, is one of the most dangerous methods of use, and not simply because it offers an increased risk for overdose. Other methods of crack use include snorting and smoking.

How Crack Cocaine Is Modified For IV Injection

While the white powder form of cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) is an easy water soluble form, once it has been modified into crack cocaine this is no longer the case.

In order to dissolve crack cocaine, the solution must contain one of a few weak acids available.

Common ways of shooting crack include:

  • shooting crack with citric acid
  • shooting crack with vinegar
  • shooting crack with lemon juice
  • shooting crack with ascorbic acid (vitamin C)

Vinegars and fruit juices, however, were never meant to be injected directly into blood vessels in this manner, and can cause additional health dangers and damage.

Dangers Of Shooting Crack

While using powder cocaine or crack cocaine is dangerous in any form, there are certain health problems that are unique to people who inject crack.

Skin Damage

Shooting crack, or any illicit stimulant drug for that matter, can cause a lot of damage to the skin around the injection site.

Commonly called “track marks”, people who shoot drugs will have scabs and scars on their arms from repeated injections in the same spot.

These marks can exist in various stages of healing, but can eventually form open wounds with a high risk for infection.

Collapsed Blood Vessels

Injecting crack can result in collapsed veins, which is a blown vein that has caved in. A blown vein is one that has ruptured and is leaking blood.

Healthy veins and blood flow are essential to the body’s healing processes, and without them the body can develop sores, ulcers, and even necrosis (tissue death).

Not surprisingly, collapsed blood vessels can also increase a person’s risk for serious infections.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when blood clots form in veins that are located deep within the body.

The most common places it occurs are in the legs, and it is generally caused by damage to the veins, like the kind of damage done with IV drug use.

This condition can be painful and uncomfortable, but also incredibly dangerous if the blood clots break free and move to other vital organs in the body.


IV crack use exposes a person to dangerous, disease-causing bacteria that can cause an abscess to form. An abscess is really just a raised pocket of infected tissue, filled mostly with pus.

If left untreated, an abscess can lead to amputation, chronic abscesses, or dangerous infections like sepsis or infective endocarditis.

Differences Between Smoking And Injecting Crack Cocaine

While smoking crack cocaine remains the most popular method for using this illicit drug, there are reasons why someone may inject crack cocaine, too.


Crack cocaine is usually substantially cheaper than the powder form of cocaine. In many instances, it is also more widely available and easier to obtain on the street.

Someone who prefers the injection form of substance use may find crack easier than other drugs, such as heroin, and end up injecting that instead.

Personal Preference

The effects of crack cocaine are felt much faster when the drug is injected and are also said to be more intense with this method as well.

For someone who is addicted to crack, getting another hit as fast as possible can feel vital.

Because crack cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs out there, it is not uncommon for people who use it to try shooting it at some point.


Turning cocaine into freebase can result in very pure cocaine. The process of making freebase removes impurities and additives from the cocaine and turns it into a solid, smokeable form similar to crack but far more pure.

Freebase can also be dissolved and injected in order to experience an especially fast and intense high.

Treatment Options For Cocaine Abuse

Crack is a highly addictive stimulant and an addiction to crack cocaine can be extremely dangerous.

It’s important to seek addiction treatment as soon as possible if someone you care about is struggling with substance use and their mental health.

Harm reduction practices are also common for IV use, such as offering a local needle exchange program, but this is not a replacement for effective treatments.

Treatment options for crack cocaine abuse include:

  • partial hospitalization programs
  • intensive outpatient programs
  • inpatient treatment
  • harm reduction practices
  • group counseling
  • family counseling
  • life skills workshops
  • aftercare planning

Find Addiction Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Are you concerned that you or a loved one might be addicted to crack cocaine or another drug? The first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.

You can call us at Bedrock Recovery Center any time, and we can design a treatment program for cocaine addiction and offer the assistance you need to get on track. Give us a call today.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/cocaine.html
  3. United States Drug Enforcement Administration https://www.dea.gov/factsheets/cocaine

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

Prefer Texting?
We've got you covered.

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.

Sign up for text support

Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.
Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.
(617) 657-2877
icon-angle icon-bars icon-times