Crack Vs. Meth: What’s The Difference?

Meth and crack cocaine are two different drugs, but they do share some similar characteristics. Both drugs are stimulants, and both are dangerous when abused. Treatment can help with meth or cocaine addiction.

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Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS


Crack cocaine and meth are two separate drugs. However, they are both stimulants and they are both usually smoked, so people might get them mixed up.

Crack and meth both affect chemicals in the brain like dopamine, which help us feel pleasure. This means that a crack or meth addiction is highly likely when people use either of these substances.

Comparing Crack And Meth

Crack and meth are similar in that they are both stimulant drugs that are relatively cheap, highly addictive, and usually used by smoking. However, they also have some major differences.

Characteristics Of Crack

Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine that requires further processing or “cooking” powder cocaine. It has the appearance of small chunks or “rocks” that are white, yellow, or brownish in color.

Crack cocaine use is especially dangerous and addictive, because the drug can be smoked. Crack addiction can happen quickly and lead to devastating side effects.

Characteristics Of Meth

Meth belongs to a drug class called amphetamines. It is a synthetic stimulant drug, meaning it is made by combining different chemicals.

Meth is an illicit drug that usually looks like a white crystalline powder. Meth addiction, similar to crack, happens rapidly.

Meth, like crack, is also smoked, and its effects can be felt almost instantly. Long-term effects of meth use include major mental and physical health problems.

Primary Differences Between Crack And Meth

Though meth and crack have some obvious similarities, they are different drugs.

Meth Is Human-Made

Meth is created through a complex chemical process in a laboratory environment (meth labs).

There is a legal version of meth used rarely in healthcare environments that is sometimes prescribed to treat ADHD and obesity.

Most of the meth found on the street is made in illegal labs in Mexico or in the U.S.

Crack Is Derived From The Coca Plant

Crack is a more processed version of cocaine. All cocaine is derived from the coca plant, a shrub grown mainly in South America.

The process of converting the coca plant into powder cocaine involves many chemicals and usually takes place in South America.

The powder cocaine is shipped to the U.S., where individual drug dealers may convert it into crack cocaine by cooking it with baking soda.

Price Point

Both meth and crack are known as relatively cheap street drugs, especially for how intense the high can be.

The relatively low cost of meth and cocaine makes these drugs popular in low-income areas and makes them more accessible.

Methods Of Use

Both crack and meth drug use is usually done by smoking. Both drugs can also be taken intravenously but this is far less common.

Effects Of Methamphetamine Use Vs. Crack Use

Meth and crack have some similar effects and some effects that are unique to each drug. The “high” from meth is a bit more long-lasting than that of crack.

Effects of meth use may include:

  • euphoric “rush” or high
  • loss of appetite
  • irregular or fast heart rate
  • heart attack or stroke
  • “meth mouth”: rapid tooth decay
  • weight loss
  • paranoia and psychosis
  • strong cravings for the drug
  • increased blood pressure

Effects of crack use may include:

  • euphoric “rush” or high
  • increased alertness
  • dilated pupils
  • excited state
  • intense cravings for the drug
  • lung damage
  • heart problems
  • organ failure
  • cracked, burnt, or damaged fingers and lips
  • decreased appetite
  • sexual dysfunction

As you can see, meth and crack share many of the same short-term and long-term effects. Both of the drugs affect the central nervous system to create intense stimulant effects.

Treatment Options For Methamphetamine Addiction

Meth abuse is a serious problem that requires professional addiction treatment.

Treatment programs for meth should use evidence-based interventions to address the underlying causes of abuse.

Meth treatment usually starts at a detox center before moving to an inpatient treatment center. Once a person is stable and confident that they can return to daily life without using meth, they can transition to outpatient care.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment At Bedrock Recovery Center

Bedrock Recovery Center is one of the east coast’s top substance use treatment centers. Located in Canton, MA, we serve the entire east coast of the U.S.

Our goal is to help you or your loved one make a long-term recovery from substance abuse, so we prioritize both early recovery and aftercare planning to ensure that you are set up for success when you leave our care.

Are you ready to begin your journey to recovery from meth addiction? Call our helpline today to learn more about our treatment options.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  4. United States Department of Justice
  5. 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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