The differences between crack and cocaine can be confusing to many people. The two substances are often discussed together, adding to the confusion.
To begin, cocaine has been around for a long time, even being added to everyday products at one point in time. When one of the chemical components is removed, it becomes its own highly addictive substance.
Neither of these drugs is legal and creates a lot of serious consequences for users. The long-term damage can be fatal if used inappropriately. Damage from these drugs is catastrophic but can be avoided with professional treatment.
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance addiction, like cocaine or crack, call us at (385) 327-7418 today.
We want to get you started with a personalized program designed around you to best help your recovery. Entering treatment is a step in the right direction for sobriety. With a personalized program, you can overcome addiction and continue living substance-free.
- What is Cocaine?
- How is Crack Different from Cocaine?
- Health Impacts from Crack and Cocaine
- Treatment Options for Crack and Cocaine
- Where to go From Here?
What is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a natural stimulant drug that originated in South America and has been used for several decades. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), medical professionals can use cocaine for different medical purposes, but it is illegal for any recreational use. Cocaine can be easily identified by its fine, white powdery appearance.
The NIDA notes, drug dealers that work with cocaine will often lace the drug with other substances like stimulant amphetamines or synthetic opioids.
When laced with other drugs like this, cocaine often leads to overdose deaths. Many individuals who use cocaine are unaware if the seller has laced it with other drugs. Additionally, cocaine has nicknames that can be discussed in varying situations. The NIDA list the following nicknames as commonly used.
How is Cocaine Used?
The biggest difference between crack vs. cocaine is the application. Since cocaine is a powdered substance, it is often used as such. The most common way of consumption is by inhaling it through the nose or applying it to the gums. This allows the drugs to enter the bloodstream quickly. Another common use of cocaine to be aware of is what is known as a speedball. It is a combination of cocaine and heroin. This allows the user to experience both the effects of stimulant and depressant drugs simultaneously.
The NIDA also found through research that cocaine is often used in binges. Individual will use cocaine repeatedly in a short amount of time to maintain a high. The consistent and large dose of cocaine is why addiction is so common for cocaine. Individuals will binge on the drug, leading their brain to crave the substance and need larger doses to get the same high.
Another danger that comes with the constant use of cocaine is when the chemical compounds are split apart. It is common for cocaine to be chemically broken apart to create “freebase cocaine.” Freebase cocaine is the technical name for crack. Since crack is created from cocaine, many individuals get confused by the differences between crack and cocaine.
How is Crack Different than Cocaine?
The difference between crack and cocaine can exist for multiple reasons. They vary depending on the production of the substance. Since crack is technically derived from cocaine, it is commonly asked, how is crack cocaine different than cocaine? Crack is the freebase chemical compound of cocaine allowing for different consumption methods. The most common way crack is used by individuals is through smoking. Crack has its name from the sound it makes while being smoked.
According to the New York City Health Department (NYCHD), crack is popular among users because of its immediate effect. Individuals who smoke crack will experience a high in less than 10 seconds.
Additionally, the drug is very inexpensive to buy and create, hence its rise in popularity in the 1980s. Individuals create crack by dissolving powder cocaine in mixtures of ammonia and water or baking soda and water. Once dried, the solid substance can be broken and sold for a lower price than powder cocaine.
Crack cocaine is commonly known by its original name. Still, according to National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), there are dozens of street names for crack cocaine that individuals use to seem less conspicuous but some of the most common include:
- Electric Cool-Aid
- Hard Rock
- Ice Cube
- Snow Coke
Everyone is at Risk
The drug is incredibly abused by all ages but is mostly used by individuals 18 to 25 years old. NDIC data reports that 6.2 million Americans have admitted to trying crack cocaine at least once in their life.
Concerning data collected by the University of Michigan’s Monitoring, the Future Survey found that four percent of high school seniors have admitted to using crack cocaine at least once in their lifetime. In comparison, another percent said they had used it within the last month.
The dangers of crack cocaine are like regular cocaine and create short-term and long-term consequences, no matter the user’s age.
Health Impacts from Crack and Cocaine
There will always be a comparison to crack vs. coke because of their history and connection. Cocaine and crack cocaine are very different yet similar in many ways.
Crack comes from cocaine but creates a very different high that can create very severe problems in a short amount of time.
The effects of the two drugs might be similar in some cases but are often more severe in other situations. If someone begins showing symptoms of overdose or reacting negatively, seek medical help immediately. Furthermore, do not wait for all symptoms to be present.
Doing so will likely result in death or severe damage that cannot be fixed.
The short-term effects of cocaine may sound tempting since the substance is a stimulant drug but have other side effects that create problems.
The effects of cocaine take seconds to appear but can also fade within minutes to an hour, which results in individuals using more of the drug. According to the NIDA, short-term mental effects include:
- Extreme joy
- Increase in altered behavior
- Sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
- Increase in irritability and aggression
These are just the effects cocaine has on the brain during a high. The health damage is also worth remembering.
- Damage to blood vessel
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Body tremors
- Disrupted sleep schedule
Crack is no different when it comes to short-term consequences. Crack effects that the NDIC discuss include:
- Damage to blood vessels
- Increased blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- Risk of cardiac arrest
While the immediate short-term damage is similar between crack and cocaine, the long-term damage varies based on the substance used.
Death by overdose is also not uncommon when cocaine and crack cocaine are involved.
The NIDA list four major consumption methods that lead to severe health problems – snorting, smoking, mouth consumption, any needle injection.
- Snorting – Loss of smell, increase in nosebleeds, runny nose, and trouble swallowing
- Smoking – Frequent coughing, higher asthma reaction, increase for respiratory illnesses
- Mouth Consumption – decay to oral health (teeth, throat, tongue cheeks, etc.)
- Needle Injection – Chance to contract HIV, hepatitis C and other blood-based diseases, skin and tissue infection, and a chance for collapsed veins
Treatment Options for Crack and Cocaine
Getting help while being addicted to cocaine or crack can be difficult and intimidating because of fear of judgment. You must overcome these fears and enter treatment as soon as possible.
Several forms of treatment get used for treating substance addiction, but behavioral therapy has been shown to work best for cocaine addiction.
Additionally, crack cocaine is treated the same way as cocaine because of the similarities between the two substances.
Before entering any therapy, patients must undergo a medically supervised detoxification and withdrawal stage to best combat addiction.
These beginning stages can be difficult but are the reason for the high success rate of addiction treatment. Listed by the NIDA as common programs used to treat cocaine and crack cocaine addiction include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Contingency management – provide rewards for individuals who stay off drugs.
- Therapeutic communities – Individuals with substance use disorders work together to hold one another accountable in the treatment.
- Community recovery programs – Outpatient group meetings or 12 step programs
Everyone is Different
It is also important to remember; no single person is the same, so that treatment will vary between individuals. A good treatment center will take your personal history and create a program designed for you.
Additionally, you might not have as severe of addiction as someone else, so that outpatient programs might suit your life better.
On the other hand, inpatient treatment could be the best fit to get you through addiction. Be sure to talk over all options with family and a medical professional to get the best help.
Furthermore, some medications show promise in the quest to treat stimulant addiction. However, The NIDA emphasizes that there is no current government-approved medication but several in testing for cocaine and crack cocaine recovery.
Where to go From Here?
The differences between cocaine vs. crack are hard to identify without knowing the subtle changes. Cocaine’s damage is well-known for its history of abuse because of its long-time use, while crack is beginning to show its dark consequences.
Both drugs’ short-term and long-term damage is cause for concern as more individuals begin using both substances. There is no winning when crack and cocaine are used, so individuals struggling with addiction should seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Many people ask what the differences are between crack vs. cocaine, but the truth is, neither should be used. The differences vary, but both create short-term and long-term harms that are not worth it.
If you or someone you love is addicted to crack or cocaine, it is time to take the step into treatment. Call us at (918) 779-0011 today and get started with a personalized treatment program.
We want to help you continue living life without the influence of substances. You have so much life left ahead of you, so let us get started with recovery.
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Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Patricia Sullivan, MD MPH