Frequently Asked Questions about Crack Cocaine
Why is Crack Cocaine named "Crack"?
"Crack" is a slang name given to processed crystalline cocaine because it literally makes a cracking sound when it is being manufactured and when it is burnt and smoked as a drug. Some cocaine users will process powder cocaine to make crack cocaine because the crystalline form of the drug is easily sold in small, "rock" particles. This process is done by mixing cocaine with baking soda and water and heating it over a flame until the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) is broken down into carbon dioxide and sodium carbonate. These two chemicals react with the hydrochloride atoms in the cocaine molecule resulting in an oily free-base of cocaine. This oily cocaine separates from the water, floats to the top where it is extracted and rolled into a rock-type shape which will harden as it continues to be heated.
To the cocaine user, what is the advantage of crack over straight powder cocaine?Crack vaporizes at about half the temperature of cocaine, giving the user the ability to inhale the vapors that quickly penetrate the lung/blood barrier and enter the blood stream as an active cocaine molecule. Cocaine cannot be smoked in the same manner and is usually inhaled as a powder by "snorting" it into the lungs. Smoked crack enters the brain in about eight seconds. This speed and the fact that crack is more potent than cocaine hydrochloride (powdered cocaine) users get a cocaine high of euphoria much more quickly than with the normal method of snorting the powdered cocaine.
What are the psychological effects of crack?
Crack affects the normal chemistry of the brain causing a "rush" or onslaught of euphoria. This is the main reason that someone is enticed to smoke crack. Other effects of crack are a loss of appetite, sleeplessness, a feeling of alertness, increased energy, and with continued smoking of crack one will become paranoid and extremely anxious. Along with the paranoia are delusions that many times cause the user to become convinced that there are police or aliens in the attic of their homes or peering at them through the spaces in the walls.
This high only last for five to ten minutes and then the user has an uncontrollable urge to smoke more crack and will continue doing so until he runs out of money. When the high dissipates, the dopamine levels in the brain that have been elevated will crash to very low levels, causing the crack user to feel immediately depressed. He knows that more crack smoking will relieve the depression and give him another feeling of euphoria, so the vicious cycle is repeated over and over until the user is so exhausted that he can't stay awake and continue his drug use. These repeated cycles of crack smoking can go on for three days at a time before the user crashes.
A common delusion that comes from smoking crack or smoking amphetamines is the feeling that your body has been infested with parasites or worm-like creatures that are crawling under your skin. This delusion is called "coke bugs". Those users that continue to smoke crack until they are delirious have been known to need medical attention for their bleeding wounds from scratching at the "coke bugs".
What are the physical effects of smoking crack?
The immediate physical effects are, of course, the same as those of cocaine, namely: increased body temperature, heightened blood pressure, increased heart rate and all of the problems that come from these responses, like heart attacks and strokes. High blood concentrations of crack cocaine causes tremors, dizziness muscle twitching, with all of this happening on top of being restless, irritable and anxious about everything around them and worries about their delusions as well.
Is crack addicting?
The simple answer is yes, but it isn't physically addicting in the same way that heroin, other opiates, barbiturates and alcohol are physically addicting. These substances cause changes in the body that are an attempt to better tolerate the regular use of these drugs. When they are removed from use, the users become very physically sick and may need medical attention to arrest these withdrawal effects since they can be medically dangerous. Crack's addiction is related to wanting the intense feeling of euphoria that the crack smoker is trying to recapture over and over as it escapes his consciousness as he becomes more toxic with the continual smoking of the drug.
Many crack users will go on binges for one to three days and then stay off of the drug for a week or more to return to uncontrolled abuse again. Some people that have recovered from crack binging will report that they relapse after two or three years and report that they were feeling the beginnings of the crack euphoria after a fight with their spouse or other upsetting experience. The basis of these types of relapse comes from cocaine molecules that are lodged in the dormant fat tissue of the body and when adrenaline is released into the body, some of the fat is metabolized, which releases the cocaine back into the blood stream, which causes the increase of dopamine in the brain. These types of relapsing urges are very difficult to resist, but the Narconon crack cocaine rehab program cleanses the body of these drug residues and eliminates this defeating type of re-stimulation from past crack use. The Narconon program is highly recommended for anyone that his having chronic relapse problems from past crack use.