Cocaine Vs. Crack
Like most people, you’ve probably heard of the powerful stimulant drug cocaine. You may also have heard of another drug called “crack.” Well over five million Americans are users of cocaine or crack. And out of this large number of people, roughly one million suffer from addiction or serious drug abuse.
Cocaine and crack are closely related substances. However, they differ in important ways. Those differences have a significant impact on how the two substances affect you. They also have an important impact on your chances of developing an addiction.
Cocaine Vs. Crack: What Is Cocaine
Cocaine is a plant-based drug. Specifically, it comes from the leaves of the South American coca plant. These leaves are harvested and put through a multi-step process that includes:
- Soaking in gasoline or another solvent
- A second soaking in a lime-based substance
- Further soaking in chemicals such as potassium and acid
- Dissolution in a chemical called acetone
- A second acid bath
- Straining and a final drying
This process results in a pure, powdered substance called cocaine hydrochloride. That powder can be:
- Inhaled through the nose
- Rubbed on mucous membranes inside the mouth
- Dissolved in water and injected in a muscle or vein
Use of 100% pure cocaine is uncommon. To save costs and extend their product, manufacturers typically add other, cheaper substances to the drug. The list of common additives includes:
- Baking soda
- Talcum powder
Sometimes, manufacturers add other types of drugs to powdered cocaine. Examples here include amphetamine, the opioid fentanyl and the local anesthetic procaine. Very few people know exactly what they’re taking when they use cocaine.
Cocaine Vs. Crack: What Is Crack
Crack is, in essence, a concentrated form of powdered cocaine. To make it, drug manufacturers:
- Make a mixture of water and baking soda or ammonia
- Dissolve powdered cocaine in this mixture
- Boil the resulting liquid part of it solidifies
- Dry the solidified material
- Break the dried material into smaller pieces
As a rule, crack is smoked by heating it and inhaling the resulting vapors. The drug gets its name from the sound it makes when heated to high temperatures. You may also hear this form of the drug referred to as freebase cocaine.
Similarities Between Crack and Cocaine
Powdered cocaine and crack are similar in a number of ways. Both drugs belong to a group of substances called stimulants. If you use either of them, you will experience effects such as:
- A powerful form of pleasure called euphoria
- Increased levels of energy
- A heightened sense of alertness
- A declining desire for food or sleep
- Heart rate and blood pressure increases
Heavy use of cocaine, crack or any other stimulant can produce additional effects that include:
- Feelings of paranoia
- Bouts of panic
- Stomach pain and vomiting
- A fluttering heartbeat
- Pain in your chest
- Trembling muscles
- Excessive sweat output
- Episodes of aggression or outright violence
- An extreme sense of agitation
- Thoughts of suicide
A Strong Risk for Addiction
Both powdered cocaine and crack are highly addictive. In addition to creating euphoria, they change the chemical balance inside your brain. Euphoria creates an incentive for taking either drug again and again. When you do this often enough, your brain’s new chemical environment becomes the norm. And when that happens, you are on the brink of the involuntary, compulsive behavior found in all forms of addiction.
If you use too much powdered cocaine or crack, you will overwhelm your system. That dangerous situation is known as an overdose. Left untreated, a crack or cocaine overdose can kill you. The two drugs are infamous for producing sudden, unexpected fatal overdoses.
Shared Legal Status
In the U.S., powdered cocaine and crack share the same legal status under federal law. They are classified as Schedule II substances. Substances in this category pose a severe risk for physical and psychological dependence. In other words, they pose a severe risk for addiction.
Options for Addiction Treatment
Treatments for powdered cocaine addiction and crack addiction are essentially the same. Extensive research has been done on medication for these two similar addictions. However, to date, no medication options works on a reliable basis.
For this reason, people seeking treatment for addiction receive help in the form of behavioral therapy. This is the name of a group of active therapies that aim to help you achieve and maintain sobriety. Specific behavioral options verified by research include:
- Contingency Management
- Motivational Incentives
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In addition to formal treatment, experts recommend joining Cocaine Anonymous or a similar self-help group.
Differences Between Crack and Cocaine
In addition to the way they’re made, there are other key differences between crack and powdered cocaine.
Cocaine High Vs. Crack High
A cocaine “high” often differs substantially from a crack “high.” This difference stems from two things. First is the method used to take each drug. In addition, the two types of euphoria last for different amounts of time.
Many people who used powdered cocaine inhale it through their noses. This method delivers the drug to your brain at a relatively slow speed. It also takes awhile for cocaine rubbed on your mucous membranes to reach your brain. In contrast, when you injected cocaine, it reaches your brain in just seconds.
When you smoke crack, the drug reaches your brain faster than inhaled cocaine. It also gets there faster than cocaine rubbed on your gums. In fact, the only method that rivals the speed of smoking crack is injecting cocaine.
The faster a drug reaches your brain, the greater the “high” it produces. This means that typical cocaine euphoria is less intense than typical crack euphoria. However, a crack “high” only lasts for a few minutes. In contrast, the euphoria from inhaled cocaine may last for half an hour or longer.
Cocaine Addiction Vs. Crack Addiction
While cocaine and crack share their status as addictive stimulants, important differences exist. These differences are related to the duration of a cocaine “high” versus a crack “high.” They’re also related to the intensity of a cocaine “high” versus a crack “high.”
Most people who use powdered cocaine experience relatively moderate euphoria that lasts for a good bit of time. On the other hand, all crack users experience relatively extreme euphoria that doesn’t last for long. In real-world terms, these differences have some important consequences.
First, people using powdered cocaine tend to wait at least awhile between doses. This has the effect of slowing down the process of addiction. In contrast, people using crack tend to take repeated doses in short spans of time. This has the effect of speeding up the process of addiction. These facts help explain why crack is considered to be more addictive than powdered cocaine.
Cocaine Withdrawal Vs. Crack Withdrawal
If you’re addicted to either cocaine or crack, you will go into withdrawal if your drug use ends. Withdrawal is also common when you decrease your normal intake of crack or cocaine. The basics symptoms of withdrawal are the same for both substances, and include:
- General mental and/or physical discomfort
- Intense or realistic nightmares
- Energy fatigue
- Difficulty sitting still or remaining calm
- A powerful desire to take the drug again
Not all cases of withdrawal are the same, and the impact of these symptoms can range from mild to severe. Major factors in the intensity of your symptoms include how long you’ve used cocaine. They also include the degree to which you suffer from addiction. In addition, the type of cocaine you use may play an important role.
Since crack is more addictive than powdered cocaine, its use can lead to particularly severe addiction symptoms. In turn, people affected by severe addiction tend to go through more severe forms of cocaine withdrawal.
Another important issue is the short duration of a crack “high.” Since crack only produces this sensation for a few minutes, the possibility of withdrawal occurs more frequently. To avoid withdrawing, addicted users must take the drug again in just a short span of time.
If crack is not readily available, withdrawal is always waiting just around the corner. This fact helps explain why people who use crack have a reputation for doing anything to get more of the drug.
It’s important to note that no strict line exists between cocaine withdrawal and crack withdrawal. Symptoms associated with powdered cocaine can be just as severe as those associated with crack. That’s especially true if you have history of dissolving powdered cocaine and injecting it.
Learn More About Cocaine and Crack Cocaine
For more information on cocaine and crack, talk to the professionals at The Discovery House. We understand these substances in great detail. We also know how to provide clear answers to your most pressing questions.
If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, The Discovery House is also on your side. We feature a range of options for cocaine recovery, from first steps all the way to the completion of treatment. Regardless of whether you use powdered cocaine or crack, we’ll help you reach your goals for long-term sobriety.