Crack cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance that is smoked or sometimes injected to produce an immediate high that is very short-acting. Popular throughout suburbs in the 1970s and 1980s, crack cocaine is the much cheaper and more frequently obtainable drug that is cocaine which has been converted through cooking with other chemicals into the rock-like substance known on the streets as crack.
This substance goes by many names – such as “rock, hard rock, base, sugar block, apple jacks”, and “kryptonite”. In reality, though it is most commonly referred to as “crack”. The name aptly derives from the substance’s tendency to make a “crackling” sound while being smoked. Originating in the early 1970s, crack cocaine did not become enormously popular as a “retail” smoking option until the mid-1980s. From that time on into the early 2000s Crack was a highly abused drug found nationwide.
Rising into popularity for its “recreational” use, particularly in more populated and urban areas, crack use spread wide and fast, affecting millions of Americans, both individually and as familial or friend groups. The drug continues to impact users on a wide scale each year.
What Is Crack Cocaine?
What exactly is crack cocaine? To fully answer this question, it is important to first understand what cocaine itself is. Cocaine is a drug that is powdery in form, and white in color. For all intents and purposes, cocaine is visually very similar to the look of flour. Despite cocaine’s innocent enough appearance, the substance acts as a potent, fast-acting stimulant to the central nervous system where it produces a euphoric “high” that often results in boundless energy.
What crack cocaine is, specifically, is a “purified” or cooked down derivative form of cocaine. Thus, it is a much more powerful variant of cocaine. As such, crack is not floury in substance but actually hard and compact, like a small rock. This “rock” can be smoked or cooked down again to be injected into the bloodstream. It is highly potent, working quickly to induce a “high” that is extremely addictive.
What is Crack Cut With?
Amongst commonly asked questions on the internet is the inquiry “do you snort crack?” There are individuals who smoke crack, those that inject crack, and yes, those that snort it. It is even more rare to encounter, but there have been individuals to ingest crack cocaine, too. Though the last option is known to be highly toxic and at times, deadly, crack cocaine is most frequently smoked above any other method of use.
Because of its high potency – its ability to create a quick and relatively easy high – crack is an illicit substance in the United States that is more frequently sought after and sold. Crack cocaine is rather simple to make, and thus also a favorite amongst dealers as it is cheap and can be stretched to increase their profit margins. In order to stretch the drug though, dealers must find a “look-alike” substance, to prevent buyers from backing out of a deal. These look-alike substances are referred to as “cut” on the streets.
This process of stretching is referred to as “cutting”, but figuring out the answer to the common street question, what is crack cut with can be tricky. The substances used to cut crack are as wide-ranging as their potential to be dangerous. First and foremost, no one ever knows fully what they are receiving when having purchased crack. In fact, crack can often be cut with common household substances like:
- Baking Soda
- Powdered Milk
- Talcum Powder
- Or even Laundry Detergent
Crack can also be laced or cut with much more malicious additives like:
- Crystal Meth
- Or even Local Anesthetics like Novocaine
Even some poisons and other drugs have been used as a means to cut crack, and further endanger the lives of millions. Common poisons used to cut crack include:
- Boric acid
- Strychnine (rat poison)
- Levamisole (meant to kill parasites in animals)
What Does Crack Look Like?
If you’re new to the drug world or just looking for background information, you’re probably wondering, “what does crack cocaine look like?” First, it is important to remember that crack cocaine and cocaine, although similar in chemical nature, are two very different forms of one active ingredient — cocaine. Powder cocaine has a powdery physical substance. Crack cocaine, is visually very similar to a rock. What does a crack rock look like? Since crack is commonly made in a process that involves baking soda, it is a mineral-like substance, often creamy-white in color but also sometimes yellow.
A crack rock looks a lot like a small off-white rock. Yet, even though this off-white tint is the most common color of these “rocks”, other common hue variations for the substance include clear-white, opaque white and yellow. The color of crack often results from what it was cut with. But, the actual size and shape of the rock will vary. And the smell of the drug is very close to that of burning rubber or plastic while being heated. Otherwise, it has a very “chemical” like odor.
Crack cocaine paraphernalia represents the most commonly associated tools and devices that are used in smoking and distribution of crack cocaine. Crack paraphernalia may include:
- A Pipe(s) (also referred to as a crack pipe)
- Razor Blades
- Small Mirrors
- Short Plastic Straws
- And Rolled-Up Paper Tubes
You may wonder, “How is a crack pipe different from a normal pipe?” or “What does a crack pipe look like?” The reality is, a crack pipe – the most infamous of cocaine paraphernalia – has a very distinct make and shape. It is commonly made out of glass, and sold as an “oil burner”. It is a long piece of glass that the tube is made out of, which ends in a round, deep bowl-like shape. Cheaper or handmade versions of a crack pipe can also be just the tube that may or may not be sectioned off at the bottom.
Street Names for Crack
Like many other types of illicit substances in circulation, there are many street names for crack. Street names and slang for crack are commonly used instead of using the word crack of cocaine freely around others. Common crack cocaine slang names, or crack cocaine street names include:
- Base Crack
- Freebase Crack
- Rock (crack rock)
- Hard / Hard Rock / Hard Ball
- Ball / 8 Ball of Crack
Other known street names for crack include, but are not limited to:
- Apple Jacks
- Sugar Block
- And Kryptonite
Side Effects of Crack
There are many side effects of crack that are both versatile and double-sided. Crack cocaine and cocaine are designed to target chemicals such as dopamine – the pleasure and reward center – in the brain. Stimulating these cells produces this chemical in excess. Thus flooding the brain and body with the euphoria of being “high”. But, this euphoric sense of happiness is short-lived. And once this “pleasant” side effect wears off, the reality of using crack begins to settle in.
Many crack side effects are extremely painful to experience, both mentally and physically. And more often than not, the side effects of smoking crack are long drawn out and difficult to shake once in recovery.
The Physical Side Effects:
Crack cocaine’s physical effects – which are similar to the effects of powder cocaine, but are more intense on average – include, but are not limited to:
- Enlarged Pupils
- High Body Temperature
- Narrow Blood Vessels / Veins
- Muscle Spasms / Muscular Twitching
- High Blood Pressure
- Increased Heart Rate
- Heart Attack
- Insomnia or Increase in Time Sleeping
- Nose Bleeds / Nasal Irritation (from snorting crack)
- Shortness of Breath / Feeling Out of Breath
- Lung Damage / Lung Bleeding
- Liver Damage
- Increased or Decreased Appetite
- Sexual Dysfunction
- And Cardiac Arrest
The Mental / Psychological Side Effects:
Crack cocaine’s mental effects – or crack cocaine’s psychological effects – include, but are not limited to:
- Mood Swings / Changes
- Anger Violence
- Excessive Energy
- Excessive (but waning) Happiness / Excitement
There are both short- and long- term side effects of crack cocaine. These long and short term symptoms can relate to both physical effects of crack cocaine and crack cocaine mental effects as well. They can range in severity, and not every individual will experience all of these symptoms, or at least all of these symptoms at once. But more often than not, short-term side effects lead to the long-term side effects, creating more severe and long-lasting issues to both the mind and body. The severity of side effect symptoms can also be heightened, based on the amount of crack taken at any given time.
The mental and physical side effects of crack cocaine and cocaine are often very similar. The symptoms can be mild or severe. The side effects of crack are often more intense than that of powder cocaine though.
What Happens if You Smoke Crack While Pregnant?
The effects of smoking crack while pregnant are dual in nature. The substance is shared between both mother and child. Thus, both mother and fetus are at high risk for developing both physical and mental side effects if the mother smokes crack while pregnant. Yet, the child is more susceptible to the substance. Crack, like many other kinds of stimulants and depressants added to the human body, can be potentially fatal to an unborn fetus. What can happen if you smoke crack while pregnant:
- High Blood Pressure (in mother)
- Heart Attack or Stroke (in mother)
- The Detachment of the Placenta
- Miscarriage or Stillbirth (of the baby)
- Early birth
- Abnormally low birth weight (of the baby)
- Blood Vessels / Veins Narrow
Other defects, including learning and behavioral problems in growing children as well as heightened depression and various other symptoms in mothers, may also occur. Children who are exposed to crack cocaine while in the womb also run a higher risk of birth defects and ongoing brain problems. Birth defects can include, but are not limited to:
- A smaller than normal head
- Reduced growth potential
- Genital, kidney, and brain defects
Although, ongoing research is