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Crack Cocaine: What is It, Dangers, and Addiction Treatment

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

March 22, 2024

Table of Contents

Crack cocaine, a hard, off-white substance, is a Schedule II drug derived from cocaine powder by mixing with other substances. Typically, this extremely addictive and dangerous drug is vaporized and consumed using a glass pipe. 

This page addresses the following issues:

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  • What’s crack cocaine?
  • Crack vs cocaine: what’s the difference?
  • Coke vs crack: which is more addictive?
  • Are there different forms of crack?
  • How can you connect with treatment for crack addiction in Southern California?

What Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is a solid form of cocaine also known as freebase. It is produced by processing cocaine into small white or off-white rock crystals, which are then smoked. Crack is typically purer than powdered cocaine.

To use crack, individuals heat the rock and inhale the resulting vapor. Smoking crack cocaine leads to rapid absorption into the bloodstream, causing an immediate and intense euphoric effect. However, the crack high quickly diminishes, prompting many people to engage in binge use to sustain the desired sensations. Abusing crack can be highly dangerous, with addiction to crack cocaine developing rapidly.

Crack Cocaine Facts

  • Crack cocaine is a highly potent and concentrated form of cocaine, often containing 90% pure cocaine hydrochloride.
  • The term crack comes from the cracking sound it makes when heated and smoked.
  • Crack gained popularity in the 1980s as a cheaper and more accessible alternative to powdered cocaine, leading to a widespread epidemic in urban areas.
  • The intense effects of crack cocaine are short-lived, lasting only a few minutes, which often leads to repeated use in quick succession, known as bingeing.
  • Crack cocaine stimulates the CNS (central nervous system), triggering an immediate and intense euphoric rush, followed by a crash and strong cravings for crack cocaine.
  • Smoking crack delivers the drug rapidly to the brain, resulting in a more rapid onset of effects than other routes of administration.
  • The use of crack cocaine can lead to severe health consequences, including heart problems, respiratory issues, seizures, and strokes.
  • Chronic crack cocaine use can cause addiction associated with significant psychological and physical dependence on the drug.
  • The production and distribution of crack cocaine contribute to violence and criminal activities in many communities.
  • Treatment for crack cocaine addiction usually involves a combination of behavioral therapies, counseling, support groups, and sometimes medications to address cocaine withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Are crack and coke the same, then?

Is Crack the Same as Coke (Cocaine)?

Crack cocaine and powdered cocaine are chemically the same substance, with the primary difference being their physical form. Powdered cocaine comes in the form of a white powder, while crack cocaine is made by processing powder cocaine with ammonia or baking soda and water, resulting in solid, rock-like crystals.

The methods of administration also vary. Powdered cocaine is commonly snorted or dissolved in water and injected for a quicker onset of effects. It can also be absorbed by rubbing it on the gums. Crack cocaine, by contrast, is smoked (freebased), triggering an immediate and intense euphoric rush that lasts for the few minutes that someone is high on crack.

Both crack cocaine and powdered cocaine have detrimental effects on health. These substances can constrict blood vessels, dilate pupils, induce nausea, elevate body temperature, raise blood pressure, cause tremors, restlessness, and erratic behavior. Prolonged usage can provoke severe damage to the neurological and cardiovascular systems, as well as the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. Smoking crack cocaine can harm the lungs and exacerbate asthma, while frequent snorting may result in nasal cavity damage and loss of the sense of smell. Injection of dissolved powdered cocaine increases the likelihood of contracting infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Regular use of cocaine can lead to tolerance, where larger or more frequent doses are needed to achieve the desired effects. Both forms of cocaine have the potential for addiction, but the methods of administration, such as injecting or smoking, can increase the risk of addiction. This makes crack cocaine potentially more addictive than powdered cocaine.

Both crack and cocaine carry serious health risks and should be avoided.

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Get Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction at Renaissance Recovery

Do you recognize the signs of cocaine addiction in yourself or a loved one? If so, at Renaissance Recovery near Huntington Beach, CA, we specialize in treating crack cocaine addiction. Our programs are tailored to address your specific needs and provide effective recovery options.

We offer:

Our comprehensive treatment approach combines evidence-based interventions and holistic therapies, ensuring personalized care. Engage with the following services at a luxury beachside treatment facility:

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group and individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

Upon completing your program, we provide an aftercare plan with relapse prevention techniques to support your long-term recovery. For immediate assistance, call admissions at 866.330.9449.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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