People tend to think of crack and cocaine as two very different drugs. After all, one is a white, powdery substance that you snort; the other is a dark and sticky substance that you smoke. But in reality, they’re actually quite similar. Both substances are variations of the same chemical — cocaine. 

However, there are some major differences between crack and cocaine that have implications for their effects on the user. As with many drug-related topics, the information about crack vs. cocaine comes from a variety of sources and has been misinterpreted in many cases. Here is what you need to know about these two similar drugs:

What is Crack?

Crack is the common name for a solid, processed form of cocaine. In the United States, crack is smoked in a glass pipe or a water pipe. Outside the U.S., it’s usually injected intravenously. Crack is called “rock” or “cocaine” in some countries. The method for making crack from cocaine is simple and straightforward. Cocaine hydrochloride is dissolved in water and ammonia (NH3). The solution is allowed to evaporate, and crystals form. The crystals are then collected and dried into a solid form. 

Crack is a completely different drug from powdered cocaine. It is a more potent and dangerous version of the drug that produces a quick but short-lasting high. Crack is created by dissolving powdered cocaine in a solvent such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), water, or sodium carbonate. Crack is made by extracting the “rock” from the “crack”.

How is Crack Made?

The process of making crack from powdered cocaine is very similar to what happens when baking. Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) and water are combined to make a dough, which is then baked into crack cocaine. 

However, crack is cooked at a lower temperature than you’d use for cookies. The acid in the baking soda destroys some of cocaine’s carbon atoms, making them easier to separate from the rest of the mixture. Then, the water helps the remaining atoms link up with each other to form crystals. The finished product is a substance that resembles a fine, white sand.

The Effects of Crack

Crack cocaine and powdered cocaine produce the same effects. These include euphoria, alertness, a heightened mood, and increased energy. The effects of crack are felt immediately and last between 15 and 30 minutes, followed by a crash that leaves the user depressed and exhausted. The major difference between crack and powdered cocaine is the rate of absorption into the bloodstream.

 The powder form is mixed with water and is generally consumed orally, resulting in a slower absorption rate. The crack form is inhaled, and the effects are felt immediately. People who are new to crack often experience stronger psychological effects than those who are experienced with cocaine. Users often report feelings of irritability, restlessness, and anxiety. These symptoms are usually caused by the sudden and intense release of dopamine in the brain.

Why is Crack More Dangerous Than Cocaine?

The crack form of cocaine has a higher potency than the powder form. The amount of powder cocaine required to make one gram of crack is just 8% of what it would take to make one gram of powder. This means that the same amount of crack will produce a much more intense, powerful high than the same amount of powdered cocaine. 

The added danger of crack is the method of consumption. Because it is inhaled through the lungs, crack enters the bloodstream through the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs. It takes just 6 to 8 seconds for the crack to reach the bloodstream from the lungs. When consumed as powder, cocaine is metabolized by enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract before it can reach the blood.

How Is Cocaine Different From Crack?

The process of making crack from cocaine is identical to the process for making crack from baking soda. The only difference is the source of the base material. Cocaine hydrochloride is dissolved in water and ammonia (NH3) and is allowed to evaporate and form crystals. The crystals are collected and dried into a solid form. In the solid form, they are called cocaine hydrochloride. 

The hydrochloride part is the same as in “baking soda”. The rest of the process is the same as for making crack. The cocaine hydrochloride is dissolved in a solvent such as sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), water, or sodium carbonate. Cocaine is then extracted from the “rock” by evaporating the solvent.

Conclusion

Crack and cocaine are two variations of the same chemical. Crack is produced from cocaine hydrochloride, which is dissolved in a solvent and then baked into a solid substance. Cocaine is dissolved in water and ammonia and is allowed to evaporate and form crystals. 

The crystals are collected and dried into a solid form. Crack is a more potent and dangerous version of the drug that produces a quick but short-lasting high. The added danger of crack is the method of consumption. It is inhaled through the lungs, entering the bloodstream through the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs. The process of making crack from cocaine is identical to the process for making crack from baking soda. The only difference is the source of the base material.

Trust Asheville Recovery Center

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors and help those who are already struggling. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or mental health, it is important to get treatment. At Asheville Recovery Center treatment specialists utilize a 12-step program and practice holistic rehabilitation. 

Services at the center include:

 Partial Hospitalization Program – At Asheville Recovery Center we offer a partial hospitalization program for clients who need post-residential treatment as well as for clients who need primary treatment but are unable to enroll in inpatient programs. Our PHP track offers a variety of therapeutic services and benefits to individuals in early recovery from substance addiction.  

Outpatient Rehabilitation – During intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), clients live at home or in a sober living residence while completing an addiction treatment program. IOP is a place where clients can process their experiences in twelve-step fellowships and support one another in those individual journeys.Addiction is difficult to overcome alone. If you feel that you or a loved one is struggling, our specialists are on standby and ready to help. Call and speak with an addiction expert today.

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