Crack is a form of cocaine that has been chemically altered so that it can be smoked.  Crack is more potent and lethal than cocaine and is one of the most addictive drugs.  Because processing converts the cocaine into a chemical “base” (as opposed to an acid or a salt), crack belongs to a category of cocaine known as freebase.  Today, baking soda and heat are used to convert cocaine into freebase, eliminating use of ether.  The product still contains some impurities found in the original cocaine, along with excess baking soda.  When heated, the mixture makes a crackling sound.


Text Box: Symptoms of Use:
·	Confusion
·	Slurred speech
·	Anxiety
·	Serious psychological problems
·	Brain seizures
·	Lung damage
·	Stroke, heart attack
·	Neurological impairment
·	Chronic cough, black phlegm
·	Chest congestion, wheezing
·	Burning of the lips, throat, tongue
·	Loss of weight
·	Malnutrition and ill health
·	Death

·	Addiction, the most common and devastating problem.
·	The effects of addictions, can linger for a lifetime.
·	A relapse, to drug use is always a possibility.

In some people, a single dose of cocaine can produce seizures or heart and respiratory failure.

Symptoms of
People who stop taking cocaine or crack become:
·	Irritable
·	Anxious
·	Deeply depressed

Often, they are unable to sleep.

And, above all else, they have an intense craving for the drug.
What does crack look like?

Text Box: Crack is almost always seen as an off-white or yellowish-white solid.  It has often been described as looking like chunks of soap or plaster.  Crack has reportedly been so named, because of the crackling sound it makes when smoked, or because larger slabs are “cracked” into smaller units of sale called rocks.

Crack is white or tan and looks like small lumps or shavings of soap, but has the texture of porcelain.  In some parts of the country, the lumps of crack that look like chips of stone are called “rock” or “readyrock.”  In other areas, the drug is sold in 3-inch sticks with ridges that are referred to as “french fries” or “teeth.”  There also are reports that crack is being pressed into pills.


Is crack more addicting than cocaine?

Yes.  All forms of cocaine are addictive.  Even occasional use can lead to an uncontrollable desire for the drug.  There is no way to predict who will become dependent.  Those who do, say they never guessed they would.  Crack is particularly alarming, because it produces the most dramatic cocaine high and is almost instantly addicting.


What is freebase and “crack”?

Text Box: Crack can be smoked in a glass pipe, in an empty aluminum can, or by any similar means where heat can be indirectly applied to vaporize the drug.  Applying a flame directly to the drug would burn it and lower the potency.  The resulting fumes are inhaled, with effects appearing almost immediately.  In this photo a glass water pipe is being used to cool the hot vapor as it is inhaled.

Freebase (freed from its base), and “crack” are forms of cocaine which are made by chemically converting “street” cocaine hydrochloride to a purified substance that is then more suitable for smoking.  Smoking cocaine produces a shorter and more intense “high” than most other ways of using the drug, because inhaling vapor is the most direct and rapid way to get the drug to the brain.  Because larger amounts of the deadly drug are getting to the brain more quickly (less than 10 seconds), smoking magnifies the high 10 times more than if it were snorted.


How is cocaine and crack addictive?

Addiction to crack occurs quickly, because of the euphoric feeling of the “high.”  This feeling is directly followed by an equally devastating depression.  Users seek another “high” to bring back the euphoric feeling, quickly turning into “binges” that lead to a pattern of addiction.  Binges last 1 to 3 days or until the drug is all gone, they’ve run out of money, or the user collapses from physical exhaustion.  Users often “snort” the drug through the nose, although some inject cocaine into a muscle or vein.  In its freebase form, cocaine must be smoked.  Traditionally, freebasers bought powdered cocaine and processed the drug themselves with ether.  Today, in the form of crack, freebase cocaine comes pre-processed and ready to smoke.  Crack is being mass marketed on the streets in small vials, folding papers, or foil packets that contain one to four pellets.


Text Box: An assortment of glass pipes used for smoking crack.  Small butane torches, like the one pictured in the lower right hand corner, are often used to heat the side of the pipe bowl to vaporize the drug.

What does cocaine and crack cost?

The price of cocaine has dropped to all time lows, while the purity of the drug has increased.   Since cocaine can be purchased in small amounts, it can be inexpensive in the beginning.  Many dealers would rather sell crack than cocaine, because an ounce of cocaine can be turned into approximately 250 vials of crack.  The low price of crack is of national concern because youngsters can afford to buy the drug.  The habit can cost whatever money users have to spend – or whatever money they can get by depleting back accounts or selling their cars, homes, and businesses.  As resources evaporate, users turn to drug selling or other crimes to support their habit.  Addicted users pay the price of damaged health, career, and personal life.











Reference Material:

·        National Drug & Safety League (A non-profit charitable organization).

·        Drug Identification Bible (3rd Edition)