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What are the signs and symptoms of Crack cocaine abuse?

Crack Cocaine is a smokable form of the CNS (Central Nervous System) stimulant cocaine. Crack is made by dissolving powdered cocaine hydrochloride in either ammonia and water, or baking soda and water. It is boiled until a solid emerges, then dried and broken up into small pieces, about the size of a raisin. A piece of crack is called a Rock. This is also referred to as Base, as it is a form of cocaine chemically freed from the Hydrochloride salt, which is more concentrated, with fewer impurities, and is also smokable. Powdered cocaine hydrochloride can be smoked, typically by adding it to cannabis or tobacco, but it is a very inefficient method of administration. Powder cocaine tends to burn rather than vaporizing, and there is not enough active drug in the smoke from burnt cocaine to give the user the high they are seeking. Crack acts faster, is more potent, and gives the user a shorter high than cocaine.  

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack ranges from white, off white, cream colored, yellow to a light brown color. It is a small chunk or sliver of a waxy substance. It looks like a chip of soap. Crack has a foul smell when smoked, similar to burning/melting plastic, Styrofoam, or rubber.

How is crack cocaine used?

Crack is smoked in a pipe and inhaled. Crack can also be dissolved in liquid and taken intravenously.

Effects of crack on the user: 

Crack cocaine, like cocaine and other CNS stimulants, will produce:

  • Euphoria
  • Energy
  • Confidence
  • Dilated (widened) pupils
  • Sweating
  • Tremors and muscle twitching
  • Bruxism (jaw grinding) and head bobbing
  • Rapid pressured speech
  • Bulging eyes
  • Repetitive speech

How long crack takes to work, and how long it lasts?

Smoking crack will produce a very rapid effect, typically in less than 10 seconds. The high from crack is very intense, but over within five minutes or less. When it wears off, the user will feel compelled to fill the pipe again, and smoke until the crack runs out.

Short-term and long-term risks of using crack

People will go on binges for days, weeks, or even months, smoking crack compulsively. They will become psychotic from the primary effects of drug compounded with sleep deprivation, hypoglycemia, and dehydration. They will feel paranoid, believing that they are being watched, “there are people up in the trees looking at them” and look out windows, pulling back the shades or curtains, or peeking out a cracked open door. They will crawl on their hands and knees, in what is called Carpet surfing, stuffing lint and pieces of paper into their pipe, desperately hoping it is a piece of crack that was dropped at some point. 


Crack is a dangerous drug, which will quickly cause the users life to become unmanageable. People will degrade and humiliate themselves to get more of it, and will never feel satisfied no matter how much of it they use.