Crack cocaine was invented in the mid-1980s as an alternative form of cocaine suitable for smoking. And, unlike cocaine hydrochloride (powder cocaine), crack cocaine is insoluble in water and therefore isn’t generally suitable for injection.
However, freebase crack cocaine is still sometimes modified and taken via intravenous injection, or shooting, by certain individuals. However, this process involves heightened risks of serious adverse health effects.
How Is Crack Cocaine Modified For Injection?
Cocaine hydrochloride is produced as a fine white powder and readily dissolves in water, making it an ideal compound for snorting or injection.
But after powder cocaine is cooked into crack cocaine using baking soda (thereby removing the freebase cocaine from the hydrochloride salt), dissolving it for injection becomes more difficult.
Instead of water, individuals will use one of several widely available weak acidic solutions, which are also commonly used to prepare certain forms of Asian-originating heroin.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, researchers have reported individuals in certain areas:
- shooting crack with lemon juice
- shooting crack with vinegar
- shooting crack with lime juice
- shooting crack with citric acid
- shooting crack with ascorbic acid (vitamin c)
In each case, the drug is mixed with the acid without heat until dissolved into a clear (ideally) or cloudy yellow solution that’s diluted with water.
The mixture is then loaded into a syringe and injected into a vein, resulting in a very rapid and intense euphoria and cocaine rush that lasts a few minutes, followed by a short-lived high.
Smoking Vs. Injecting Crack Cocaine
It’s believed that, in the United States, crack injection has a low prevalence. However, there are specific reasons why some would choose to inject crack rather than smoke it.
The speed and intensity of cocaine’s effects following IV injection are faster-acting and greater than smoking, which makes intravenous drug use more habit-forming relative to other forms of drug abuse.
In some cases, the process or ritual of preparing paraphernalia and administering an injection may also become so closely associated with the pleasure the drug provides that it causes a state of psychological addiction known as needle fixation.
Availability & Cost
Some who prefer to use drugs by injection may be unable to affordably source powder cocaine in their area, or crack cocaine may be substantially cheaper.
Cocaine is sometimes freebased at home in order to remove impurities and additives. It may then be injected to enhance the speed and intensity of the drug’s effects.
Heroin and cocaine are often used together in a combination known as speedball. Because some freebase forms of heroin require a weak acid to dissolve in the same way as crack cocaine, it becomes convenient to mix the two drugs with the acid over heat before injecting them together.
Health Risks Of Shooting Crack Cocaine
Injection use of crack cocaine can lead to the increased risk of serious health effects, especially when vinegar or fruit juices are used to create a soluble form of the drug instead of citric or ascorbic acid.
These effects can include:
- pain or a burning sensation after injection
- skin damage, infections, and abscesses
- soft tissue infections
- injection site scarring and track marks
- vein damage and collapsed blood vessels
- deep vein thrombosis (DVT, or blocked blood vessels in your legs or elsewhere in the body)
DVT is especially concerning, as clots or blockages made of suspended solids inside injections may break loose and travel through the bloodstream. These solids can ultimately lodge in the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Pulmonary embolisms can be fatal.
Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Crack cocaine addiction and dependence can be difficult to overcome on your own. Fortunately, the expert staff and personalized treatment programs available at Ark Behavioral Health are available to help. For more information, please contact us today.