What is crack cocaine?

Crack cocaine, or crack, is a highly addictive substance created by “washing” powdered cocaine with liquefied baking soda compound or ammonia then heating it, which forms small rocks. Because powdered cocaine cannot be smoked, crack was derived from the “freebase” rock created when mixed with liquid and dried by heating. The residue creates a rock-like substance that is ignitable and burns off. Faster acting than powdered cocaine, which is most frequently sniffed (snorted), crack hits the pleasure center of the brain instantly.

Crack Cocaine Basics

Crack cocaine is a schedule II narcotic by federal classification, guidelines for which are found in The Controlled Substances Act, enacted by Congress in 1970. While cocaine is a derived from the South American coca plant and processed by reducing it to a white powdered substance, crack is produced from the powder by “washing” with either ammonia or a dissolved fluid product made from baking soda. Because these are common household items, crack can be produced and sold cheaply and created simply; as a result, it became a highly popular and widely abused drug in the 1980s. Street Names for Crack Crack cocaine has many nicknames, including:

Crack Cocaine Effects

The immediate rush of pleasure that courses through the body of a crack user can often be addictive from the first hit. Crack cocaine is a processed form of cocaine created for smoking. While cocaine is expensive, crack is sold in heavily altered forms cheaply. The product may not resemble its origins of cocaine much at all by the time it gets to the streets.

Crack Cocaine Dangers

While the side effects and risks of using crack are similar to those of using cocaine, amphetamine and methamphetamine, there are specific dangers of smoking crack cocaine, in addition. Because crack is created with ammonia, toxic fumes are emitted when it is smoked. Ammonia is especially harmful to smokers' lungs, as well as those who breathe it in second hand. Furthermore, because crack cocaine is mostly smoked, users often develop what is termed “crack lip,” blisters and burns on the lips, caused by the hot glass pipes that are used for smoking. The toxic fumes are also responsible for the discolored and damaged teeth and gums of regular crack users, as well as the risk of mouth, lip and tongue cancer.

Crack Cocaine Addiction

Almost from its first use, crack cocaine produces an effect so euphoric that users succumb by constantly trying to recapture the magic of that first high. When smoked, crack’s immediate effects are intense euphoria, an increased sense of well-being, confidence and vitality, alertness, and an almost instant desire for more of the drug. Within minutes, these effects begin to wear off, causing the user to smoke more and more of the substance to regain that first taste of pleasure.

Crack Cocaine Mixing

Because those who use one drug may be tempted to try it in combination with another, there are some dangerous combinations that need to be pointed out. While no one would encourage crack cocaine to begin with, dangers can become fatal quite easily when combined with certain drugs.

Crack Cocaine Legalities

During the 1980s, cocaine and crack cocaine became increasingly popular and available in the U.S. There were differences in how the two substances were viewed for purposes of prosecution, although they are basically the same drug. In 1986, with the passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act, possession of 5 grams of crack cocaine given a five-year mandatory, minimum sentence, even for a first offense. The same sentence existed for possession of at least 500 grams of cocaine. Nationwide, “Simple possession of any quantity of any other substance by a first-time offender--including powder cocaine--is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum of one year in prison.” (21 U.S.C.

Crack Cocaine Testing

Those who are in drug/alcohol treatment may be required to test frequently, especially when granted permission to leave the program for any purpose. Various methods of testing are used to determine use of crack cocaine. Types of tests that can detect the presence of crack cocaine include: Urine tests Hair analysis tests Saliva tests Blood tests Urine samples are the most frequently used testing samples. They will indicate the presence of many of the most commonly used illicit drugs.

Crack Cocaine FAQ

How is crack cocaine different from cocaine? Why does it turn into little rocks? Why do people smoke crack instead of using cocaine? Can you become addicted after using it once? Why do crack addicts look so old/bad? How do you get clean from crack? If I'm pregnant, will crack affect my baby? Why are the laws regarding crack so much tougher than for cocaine? How can I help someone who has overdosed on crack? How is crack cocaine different from cocaine?