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Cocaine Vs. Crack | What’s The Difference Between Crack & Cocaine?

Published on January 22, 2021
Cocaine Vs. Crack | What's The Difference Between Crack & Cocaine?

Cocaine and crack are related substances with similar effects, but they’re not the same. The main differences included use, production, and form.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a stimulant made from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. The most common form of cocaine is a fine white powder. A complicated extraction process is usually needed to convert coca leaves into powder form.

Cocaine use usually involves snorting powder cocaine through the nose. It can also be injected or absorbed through the gums. The high caused by snorting cocaine tends to last between 15 to 30 minutes.

Side Effects Of Cocaine Use

Snorting cocaine can damage the nose in both the short- and long-term. Nosebleeds, a loss of smell, and nasal septum perforation can happen after snorting cocaine.

Powdered cocaine can also be sold with other substances in it. Some of these substances, such as talc or flour, are mostly harmless. Others, such fentanyl or other opioids, can be dangerous when snorted. 

Overdoses on cocaine often happen because cocaine users are unaware of the ingredients they are snorting, or how much cocaine is mixed in with other substances.

What Is Crack?

Crack, also known as crack cocaine, is a derivative of cocaine. It is usually made by adding baking soda to a wet cocaine mixture. 

Crack comes in rock crystals, and gets its name from the crackling sound made by the rocks as they are heated and smoke. Smoking crack is the most common method of use.

Crack has similar effects to cocaine, but affects the body much faster. The high caused by smoking crack usually lasts between 5 to 10 minutes. Like cocaine, crack is a highly addictive drug.

Side Effects Of Crack Use

Smoking crack can cause respiratory problems, including cough, asthma, and increased risk of respiratory infections.

Highs caused by crack last a short time, which can lead to large amounts of crack ingested to achieve longer highs. Crack addiction is likely to develop after repeated uses.

Similarities Of Cocaine & Crack

Because crack is a derivative of cocaine, they affect the body similarly. Crack and cocaine both increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which affects motivation, drive, and movement.

Crack and cocaine can increase productivity, attention span, energy levels, and heart rate for a short period of time. Both drugs are potentially addictive stimulants, which can lead to drug addiction and eventual withdrawal symptoms.

Overdose

It is possible to overdose on both cocaine and crack. Both forms of overdose can be life-threatening, and both drugs share symptoms of an overdose.

Signs of a cocaine or crack overdose include:

  • heart attack
  • irregular heart rate
  • seizures
  • high blood pressure
  • difficulty breathing
  • extreme anxiety

If you see these signs in yourself or a loved one, get medical help immediately.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term crack or cocaine abuse can lead to withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms for crack and cocaine include depression, fatigue, and insomnia.

Because withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage, a supervised treatment program may be needed to beat crack or cocaine withdrawal.

Treatment Options For Cocaine Or Crack Addiction

Cocaine and crack are two prominent targets of substance abuse in the United States. They are easily accessible and highly addictive, with potentially long-lasting health effects.

Treatment programs for crack and cocaine use may involve behavioral therapy. This method establishes healthy habits for being drug-free and helps you recognize triggers that could lead you to start abusing drugs again.

To learn more about addiction treatment options for cocaine or crack, talk to your healthcare professional or contact us today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction - Cocaine and crack drug profile​​​
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cocaine DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

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