The difference between Crack and Cocaine

Updated: 3 days ago

WHAT IS CRACK?


Crack is a substance that is produced by mixing cocaine powder with water and other substances such as ammonia or baking powder. It is a highly concentrated form of cocaine and is very addicting, in addition to it posing many medical threats to the user. Its name comes from the crackling sound the drug produces when it is heated and smoked.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CRACK AND COCAINE?


Cocaine is the powdered form of a hydrochloride salt while crack is a derived form of cocaine mixed with water and other substances.


Technically, there are no pharmacological differences between cocaine and crack. Chemically, they are the same and they have the same effects on the human body. However, the difference lies in the way we use them. Cocaine, in its powder form, is usually snorted, swallowed, or injected, while crack is usually smoked. Because of this, crack is cheaper and has faster-acting effects compared to powder cocaine.


WHAT ARE CRACK’S EFFECTS ON THE BRAIN?


Using crack cocaine, just like any other illegal drug, causes long-term effects on the brain. Animal studies have shown that the use of cocaine can trigger profound changes in your brain’s reward system, particularly how much of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate is released and the level of receptor proteins in the reward pathway.


Crack cocaine also affects the way the brain responds to stress, which causes complications in cocaine use disorders, and cocaine addiction relapses. Essentially, animals that have received cocaine look for the drug in times of stress, and it becomes a dangerous habit that feeds itself.



WHAT ARE CRACK’S EFFECTS ON THE BODY?


The effects of crack can vary because of the purity of the cocaine used to produce it. The effects of crack on the body are very similar to the effects of powder cocaine, although they are more powerful and intense because crack is smoked. These effects include:


  • A strong sense of euphoria

  • Increased alertness

  • Dilated pupils

  • Lack of appetite

  • Increased heart rate

  • Intense cravings


Crack is a stimulant. This means it stimulates your entire body, speeding it up. Crack makes you talk faster, move faster, and makes your heart beat faster. Your body temperature increases, you might twitch, and you lose your appetite and have a hard time sleeping. Sometimes, you might even start having delirious thoughts and paranoia, feeling as though you are unsafe and that someone is out to get you.



WHAT ARE THE MEDICAL CONSEQUENCES OF CRACK USE?


More than the usual consequences of using powder cocaine such as constricted blood vessels, increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, crack users may experience respiratory problems as well. Since crack is smoked, it can cause shortness of breath, coughing, and trauma or bleeding in the lungs. On top of these, smoking crack can also lead to an overdose.



WHAT ARE THE LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF CRACK USE?


Long-term effects of crack use include:

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

  • Restlessness

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Hallucinations

  • Paranoia



CAN YOU OVERDOSE ON CRACK?


Just like any other illegal drug, it is possible to overdose on crack.


A crack overdose is a situation where an individual takes too much of the drug and experiences adverse, life-threatening effects. The chances of a crack overdose happening are unpredictable, as many factors contribute to it, such as the purity of the cocaine, the age and overall health condition of the person using it, and the method for how it was ingested. It is worth noting that even first-time users of cocaine can suffer from a cocaine overdose.



WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A CRACK OVERDOSE?


People who suffer from crack overdose exhibit symptoms such as:


  • Hallucinations

  • Extreme agitation or anxiety

  • Seizures

  • Difficulty breathing

  • High blood pressure

  • High body temperature


Those who misuse crack cocaine may also experience diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, chest pains, headaches, and blurred vision or vision loss. Severe symptoms of a crack overdose include strokes and heart attacks, which may not lead to death but may have lasting debilitating effects on the body.


HOW ADDICTIVE IS CRACK?


Because crack is highly concentrated, it also heightens the effects it produces. The intensity of its effects makes it extremely addictive. It is important to note that it is possible to be addicted to crack even after just one use.


WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CRACK ADDICTION?


There are five signs you can use to determine if someone has a possible crack addiction:


  1. Extreme Mood Swings

A person who is using crack exhibits a high at first. However, once the drug wears

off, that same person’s mood changes. The person may become hostile or isolate themselves from others.


  1. Financial Problems

Obtaining crack costs money. Although it is relatively cheaper than powder cocaine, it can still be a big part of someone’s expenses. Pair that with the fact that crack use may impair someone’s productivity at work, it can be hard to maintain employment when addicted to the drug.


  1. Physical Changes

Using crack can have adverse effects on a person’s physical well-being, especially in their brain. You may notice that a loved one may be different even when they are not high.

Crack use can lead to chronic nosebleeds and damage to the nasal passages, as well.


  1. Mental Health Symptoms

Because crack can cause anxiety, depression, and paranoia, long-term abusers of the drug are prone to mental health symptoms, even when they are no longer under the influence of the drug.


  1. Withdrawal Symptoms

Most of the withdrawal symptoms of crack are psychological. When you notice a loved one experiencing these withdrawal symptoms, it could be a sign that they are abusing crack.


WHAT ARE THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS OF CRACK?


Crack withdrawal occurs when someone has been abusing the drug suddenly stops it. According to a study by Gawin and Kleber, there are three phases into crack withdrawal: crash, withdrawal, and extinction.


When a person stops using crack for a few hours to a few days, they experience the “crash.” In this phase, the following symptoms may occur:


  • Exhaustion

  • Hypersomnia

  • No cravings to use

  • Dysthymia

  • Increased appetite

  • Restlessness

  • Irritability


When a person stops using crack for 1-10 weeks, they experience “withdrawal.” In this phase, the following symptoms may be present:


  • Lethargy

  • Anxiety

  • Erratic sleep

  • Strong craving

  • Emotional liability

  • Irritability

  • Depression

  • Poor concentration


In the third and last phase called “extinction”, the person has stopped using crack for up to 28 weeks. In this phase, the following symptoms could still occur:


  • Episodic cravings

  • Some dysphoria


HOW DO YOU TREAT CRACK ADDICTION?


On average, 5,512 people die from cocaine overdoses yearly. Fortunately, this is a reality that we can avoid. We at Recovery Blvd can help you or someone you love overcome the pit of addiction and steer clear of suffering a drug overdose. We have an array of programs and treatments that cater towards recovering from substance abuse, preventing addiction progression, and helping you establish a brand new direction and outlook in life.


Some of our high-quality professional programs and therapies include:


  1. Advanced Relapse Prevention

  2. Substance Abuse Counseling

  3. Recovery Crossfit


With enough support and the right treatment, you can leave your crack addiction far behind and begin on a new path towards a brighter tomorrow.


If you would like to know more about Recovery Blvd, please call us at (503) 447-5057. You can also visit our drug recovery center in Portland at 1316 SE 12th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214, to book an appointment.


Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.


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