Crack cocaine or “freebase” are smokeable forms of cocaine which look like crystals or rocks. These forms of cocaine are made by chemically changing cocaine powder.
Also known as: angie, blow, C, Charlie, coke, crack, flake, freebase, hard, Henry, nose candy, rock, snow, stardust
Crack cocaine, often nicknamed “crack”, is believed to have been created and made popular during the early 1980s . Because of the dangers for manufacturers of using ether to produce pure freebase cocaine, producers began to omit the step of removing the freebase precipitate from the ammonia mixture. Typically, filtration processes are also omitted. Baking soda is now most often used as a base rather than ammonia for reasons of lowered odor and toxicity; however, any weak base can be used to make crack cocaine. When commonly “cooked” the ratio is 1:1 to 2:3 parts cocaine/bicarbonate.
There are many unwanted and dangerous effects associated with using cocaine. A person on cocaine may feel agitated and nervous. Cocaine can also produce euphoria (“high”) and can make a person feel mentally alert, energetic and talkative. The senses of sight, sound, and touch are heightened. A person may feel more calm and in control. However, all of these effects do not last long. When the “high” wears off, the person may feel anxious or depressed and have intense cravings for the drug. Some people stay “high” by using the drug for hours or days.
Short-term use of cocaine can produce many other effects:
- postponement of physical and mental fatigue
- reduced appetite
- increased blood pressure and heart rate
- exaggerated reflexes
- rapid breathing
- dilation of pupils
- dry mouth
- paranoid thinking
In addition, a person could potentially experience:
- severe agitation
- paranoid psychosis
- nausea and vomiting
- elevated body temperature and cold sweat
- tremors (shaking) and muscle twitching
An overdose of cocaine can be lethal. Death may occur as a result of an abnormal heart beat (arrhythmia), stroke, seizures or respiratory arrest (breathing stops). There is no specific antidote that can reverse the effects of the drug. If you think that a person has overdosed, contact emergency services immediately.
Taking large amounts of cocaine for a long time can have many unwanted effects. People using cocaine may become depressed, have mood swings, or become restless and excitable. Their behaviour may be erratic, bizarre, or violent.
Some people become psychotic and can experience:
Heavy users may have trouble sleeping, may change between feelings of intense hunger and a lack of interest in food. Users may experience impotence (sexual dysfunction). Other medical complications include high blood pressure and irregular heart beat.
A regular cocaine snorting habit is evident by a red, chapped, runny nose. A person may lose his/her sense of smell and develop sinus infections. The wall that separates the nostrils may develop a hole and bleed often.
Smoking crack cocaine can cause chest pain and breathing difficulties (crack lung).
Cocaine users often develop social problems. They may become preoccupied with buying, preparing, and using the drug. School and job performance may suffer.
Sharing drug supplies, such as needles, pipes, straws, and spoons, can spread viruses. These include HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Can cocaine/crack cocaine harm a developing fetus and newborn babies?
Cocaine use during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage and premature delivery. Babies may be born underweight. Babies born to cocaine users may:
- be irritable
- feed poorly
- not sleep well for several weeks after they are born
Is Cocaine Addictive?
Yes, cocaine is addictive. With repeated use, tolerance to the effects of cocaine can develop. Regular cocaine users can also develop psychological dependence which is characterized by intense cravings for the drug even when the user knows there are significant consequences.
Regular users of cocaine who suddenly stop using the drug may experience the following symptoms:
- extended and restless sleep
- suicidal thoughts
- intense craving for the drug