Crack Vs Cocaine: What’s The Difference?

Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are related but they do have some differences. The most common method of use, length of effects, and price point are some things that differentiate these two forms of cocaine. Addiction treatment can help with cocaine or crack addiction.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Crack and cocaine have the same active compounds and share many of the same effects. They are different in that crack is a more processed form of cocaine.

Both crack and cocaine come from leaves of the coca plant, a shrub found in South America. The leaves are processed using chemicals, resulting in powder cocaine, also called cocaine hydrochloride.

Main Differences Between Crack And Cocaine

Although crack and cocaine are two different forms of the same drug, they do have some major differences. Crack use and cocaine use are both very dangerous.

What Is Crack?

Crack is powdered cocaine, or cocaine hydrochloride, that has been combined with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water and cooked down until a solid substance forms.

Drug dealers make cocaine into crack because many people who use the drug prefer smoking crack over cocaine. The effects are more intense and they hit immediately when it is smoked.

What Is Powder Cocaine?

Powder cocaine is the result of processing coca leaves to make the drug. In its pure form, powder cocaine is cocaine hydrochloride. But cocaine is almost never free from additives or adulterants.

Some additives are other white powders meant to dilute the cocaine and increase profits for dealers. Others enhance the effects of cocaine or make it more addictive.

Common additives in powder cocaine include:

  • caffeine
  • amphetamines
  • fentanyl (a deadly opioid)
  • corn starch
  • baking soda
  • talcum powder
  • laundry detergent
  • boric acid
  • levamisole
  • lidocaine
  • benzocaine

Because the powdered form of cocaine is used to make crack cocaine, whatever additives are in it will end up in the crack. Some of these additives are even more toxic when heated up.

Factors That Differentiate Crack And Cocaine

There are some important factors that separate crack and cocaine. The price point, length of effects, and method of use are very different among the two forms of the drug.

Price Point

Powder cocaine is notoriously expensive, while crack cocaine is thought to be cheaper. In reality, crack cocaine is not less expensive than powder cocaine when you consider the amount of cocaine included.

A few grams of crack will usually cost less than the same amount of cocaine. Since crack is diluted with baking soda, it is not usually much cheaper than powder cocaine.

However, its effects are very intense when smoked, so it is often thought to be much cheaper and people using the drug may feel they get more “bang for their buck”.

Length Of Effects

Crack does not last as long as cocaine. This is mainly due to the fact that crack is smoked, while cocaine is usually taken by snorting.

Crack’s side effects tend to be felt immediately and last between 5 and 15 minutes, while cocaine side effects are felt within a few minutes and can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

Method Of Use

Powder cocaine is usually snorted. However, this illicit drug can also be combined with water and injected.

Crack cocaine is usually smoked. Crack can also be melted down and injected, though this method of drug use is quite rare.

When crack is smoked, it makes a crackling sound as it heats up. This crackling is the namesake of the drug.

Side Effects Of Crack And Cocaine

The side effects of cocaine and crack are mostly the same.

Shared side effects include:

  • increased heart rate
  • increased awake/alertness
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • sexual dysfunction
  • damaged blood vessels
  • heart attacks
  • high blood pressure
  • mental health issues like depression and anxiety

There are also a few side effects that are unique to crack and cocaine because of their method of use.

Cocaine addiction with repeated snorting of the drug can lead to damage to the nasal passages and repeated nosebleeds.

Crack substance abuse may lead to lung problems and burns on the lips and hands from hot crack pipes.

Withdrawal For Crack Vs. Cocaine

Crack and cocaine withdrawal symptoms are very similar.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • nightmares
  • trouble thinking
  • mood swings
  • intense cravings for the drug
  • depression
  • lack of motivation

Treatment Options For Crack Cocaine Abuse

Both crack and cocaine substance use are serious drug addiction issues. Both drugs require treatment to address the issue.

It is best to visit an inpatient treatment center for crack or cocaine addiction. In an inpatient rehab program, you can focus entirely on your recovery in a safe and supportive environment.

Here, you will find effective treatment options, such as detox, behavioral therapy, support groups, and counseling, to help you recover from crack cocaine abuse.

Find Drug Use Treatment Today At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is a state-of-the-art drug and alcohol rehab facility in Canton, MA. We offer inpatient detox and rehab programs to people with addiction.

Call our helpline today to talk with an addiction specialist and learn more about our treatment options.

  1. Drug Policy Alliance
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  3. United States Department of Justice
  4. United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

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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