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What Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a processed form of cocaine that is often smoked. It is different from powder cocaine. Cocaine use can be dangerous, and cocaine addiction requires substance abuse treatment.

Crack cocaine is a processed form of the Schedule II drug, cocaine, that results in small, rock-like pieces of the drug. Smoking crack is the most common way to use the drug.

Because it is smoked, the effects of crack are very intense and felt almost immediately. This may be part of the reason why crack addiction is so common and can happen so quickly.

To smoke crack cocaine, the small rocks are placed in a pipe and heated up until they melt and vaporize. This vapor is then inhaled.

The rocks make a crackling sound when heating up, giving the drug its namesake.

Difference Between Crack And Powder Cocaine

All forms of cocaine come from the leaves of the coca plant, a shrub grown in South America. The leaves are processed to form cocaine hydrochloride, which is the white powder form of cocaine.

Crack cocaine requires further processing of cocaine hydrochloride. While powder cocaine is most often taken by snorting, crack is usually smoked.

The effects of cocaine and crack are similar, but crack’s effects hit harder and faster because smoking crack allows it to enter the bloodstream rapidly.

How Crack Cocaine Is Made

Crack cocaine is made by combining powder cocaine with baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, and water, and then cooking this mixture in a pot.

As the mixture cooks, a solid, crystalline substance forms. This solid is taken out and broken into small chunks, or “rocks”, which is what we know as crack cocaine.

Usually, crack cocaine is cooked by individual drug dealers in the U.S. They might turn powder cocaine into crack because it is more popular in their area, or to increase their profits.

How Powder Cocaine Is Made

Powder cocaine is made by processing the leaves of the coca plant. This process usually takes place in South America, then the powder cocaine is shipped to the U.S.

The process of extracting powder cocaine involves soaking the leaves in chemicals such as gasoline, then using acids and drying agents to further extract the drug.

Cutting Agents Used In Crack Cocaine

All forms of cocaine usually have cutting agents in them. These agents are most commonly added to powder cocaine before it is cooked and turned into crack.

Cocaine cutting agents have two main categories: adulterants and substitutes.

Common Adulterants

Adulterants enhance or change the effects of the drug and may make it more potent and/or addictive.

Adulterants that may be found in crack cocaine include:

  • fentanyl (a dangerous opioid drug)
  • lidocaine
  • benzocaine
  • caffeine
  • amphetamines

Common Substitutes

Substitutes dilute the drug to increase the profits of those selling it.

Crack cocaine substitutes or diluents include:

  • corn starch
  • baking soda (added before cooking powder cocaine into crack)
  • laundry detergent
  • boric acid
  • talcum powder

Effects Of Using Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine has many short-term and long-term physical and mental health effects. Crack drug use is very dangerous and its side effects can be deadly.

Some common short and long-term effects of crack cocaine use include:

  • intense high or rush
  • increased alertness
  • dilated pupils
  • excited state
  • increased heart rate
  • decreased appetite
  • intense cravings and depression once the high goes away
  • sexual dysfunction and infertility
  • high blood pressure, heart attacks, damaged blood vessels, and other circulation problems
  • lung damage
  • cracked, burnt, damaged fingers and lips
  • organ failure
  • psychosis

Treatment Programs For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine abuse is a very dangerous form of substance use. If you are concerned that a loved one is using crack, addiction treatment is the best way to move forward.

Treatment for crack cocaine abuse may start with inpatient detox, where the affected person will be able to go through withdrawal symptoms in a safe and comfortable healthcare environment.

After detox, inpatient treatment can give people addicted to crack cocaine a chance to reset and address the underlying causes of their addiction.

Finally, an aftercare plan will be made for continuing recovery in outpatient care.

Find Crack Cocaine Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is a state-of-the-art treatment center located just outside of Boston, MA. We offer treatment plans for people with all kinds of substance use disorders.

Our addiction treatment providers focus on using evidence-based treatment approaches to help you recover. Our goal is to help you make a long-term recovery from addiction.

If you or someone you love is battling crack cocaine use, you don’t have to do it alone. Call our helpline today to talk to an addiction specialist and learn more about our plans.

Written by
Bedrock Recovery Editorial Team

©2022 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

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