Can you get high on crack?

Crack is known for its almost immediate euphoric effect. But while you can get high on crack easily, risk for addiction is through the roof! More on crack, the high it produces, and risks you take when using crack here.

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Yes, crack is known to produce an almost immediate high.

However, this high comes with serious risk to your physical and mental health. More here on what happens when you become dependent on crack to get high. And we invite your questions about crack use, abuse, or addiction treatment for crack  at the end.

Psychoactive ingredients of crack

Crack is a form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal that users smoke. Crack has been processed from cocaine hydrochloride and is prepared by adding baking soda to aqueous cocaine hydrochloride and heating it until the free-base cocaine precipitates into small pellets. The mixture is cooled and filtered, and then the “rocks” are smoked in a crack pipe. Crack is in a form that allows it to be vaporized at a much lower temperature (98°C), without burning and destroying excess cocaine.

Crack and central nervous system effects

Cocaine itself is a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that interferes with the reabsorption process of catecholamines, particularly dopamine, a chemical messenger associated with pleasure and movement. Cocaine produces CNS effects by blocking the dopamine transporter, leading to increased extracellular dopamine, which results in chronic stimulation of postsynaptic dopamine receptors. This results in the euphoric ‘rush’ or high when you consume crack.

There are two important reasons people prefer crack to other forms of cocaine. The first is that, when smoked, the drug is delivered through the lungs to the brain almost immediately. It then causes release of brain chemicals in the pleasure centers of the brain, resulting in the desired stimulating, euphoric effects. The second reason is that the crack form does not waste cocaine by burning it up.

Crack and euphoria / euphoric effect

Crack produces effects almost instantaneously, within seconds, whereas intranasal powder cocaine may require 5 to 10 minutes to produce effects. These effects consist of intense euphoria, pleasure, and ecstasy, states in which everything pleasurable is intensified.

Getting high on crack

The intensity and duration of cocaine’s pleasurable effects depend on the way it is administered. Injecting or smoking cocaine delivers the drug rapidly into the bloodstream and brain, producing a quicker and stronger but shorter-lasting high than snorting. The high from snorting cocaine may last 15 to 30 minutes. In contrast, the high from smoking crack may last 5 to 10 minutes.

In order to sustain their high, people who use crack cocaine often use the drug in a binge pattern—taking the drug repeatedly within a relatively short period of time, at increasingly higher doses. This practice can easily lead to addiction, a chronic relapsing disease caused by changes in the brain and characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking no matter the consequences. Seeking help for crack addiction can be difficult, however; crack cravings can be intense and compulsive thinking related to addiction can lead to repeated relapse.

Mixing crack with other substances

Cocaine is more dangerous when combined with other drugs or alcohol (poly-drug use). For example, the combination of cocaine and heroin (known as a “speedball”), carries a particularly high risk of fatal overdose. Likewise, mixing crack and alcohol can intensify the CNS depressant effects of alcohol, clouding perception, judgement, and decision making.

Risks of using crack to get high

Cocaine affects the body in a variety of ways. It constricts blood vessels, dilates pupils, and increases body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. It can also cause headaches and gastrointestinal complications such as abdominal pain and nausea. Because cocaine tends to decrease appetite, chronic users can become malnourished as well.

Some effects of cocaine depend on the method of taking it. Crack cocaine is a strong stimulant that energizes the entire central nervous system. Smoking crack triggers damaging stresses on the heart, lungs and brain. Crack users often have burned fingers or lips from holding onto the pipe while it heats up. Similarly, if you use crack cocaine, you put yourself at risk for contracting HIV because crack impairs your judgment, which can lead to risky sexual behavior.

Questions about crack

Still have questions about crack? Please leave your questions or comments in the section below. We do our best to respond to all legitimate concerns with a personal and prompt reply.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms
AIDS [dot] GOV: Substance Abuse
NIDA Drug Facts: Cocaine
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. My son has some anxiety issues and gets easily paranoid by things. We live on a main street in an area with a decent amount of drug use. We often have our windows open at night for fresh air. There is a bus stop directly across the street. Occasionally our house will smell like weed from people across the street smoking up and the wind blowing it in. My son noticed a “stem”?/crack pipe? in the grass by the bus stop. He’s been nervous that people smoking crack or something else across the street could have their smoke/fumes blown in his bedroom window, much like the weed does, and cause him to get something off of it. Like a high or perhaps some side effect. I told him that any little bit that managed to find its way in here probably wouldn’t do a thing but to be honest I’ve never even given it thought. Figured I’d ask here so I can perhaps give him some peace of mind or educate myself. Thanks

  2. I’m 74 y.o. mother of the addict. She is 46. Has been on crack forever. Ruined my family, ruined everything in my life.. Right now she is somewhere, I told her not to come back and forced her to take her pet dog with her. I want her to die and be in peace. Neither I, nor she are religious, most help groups are run by churches.. I put her last money that she gave me for “safekeeping” back in her account, because she was threatening me. Can I call police when she comes back? I am alone and scared… She was clean for a year, and I foolishly let her move in. Thinking she would take care of my in my senior yeas. Boy, was I wrong!
    Where can I find help for my own mental condition – I haven’t been able to think straight, walk straight, or sleep in the past two weeks. If you suggest patience and love, I can tell you – I have very short supply left! I want her to die and let me live my last years in peace.
    I know all about stages of grief etc… I need to know how to get her out of my life!
    Thank you!

    1. Hi Irene. I know she is your daughter and that you feel betrayed and hurt. But, sometimes it’s best that we take care of ourselves. Especially when our loved one is an addict that cannot help stay sober. You can reach out and offer help, as you did…but you cannot heal your daughter or heal her addiction.

      If she comes back home and gets violent or starts threatening you, you can call the police for your own safety. If you need help, you can see your doctor fist. Your doctor will be able to further refer you to a psychologist or a counselor if you need a professional to talk to.

  3. I been smoking crack for a while i real realy want to stop gettinghigh im tired of blowing money and lieing to my family about it i keep telln myself im gona stop and not go to the neighborhood i get high in but every time i get money i wind up back there im tired of smoking its ruining my life and my relationship with my family please help me i wana stop at hm hell i wana stop period

    1. Hi Sg. I suggest you to contact our trusted treatment provider who can help you access adequate treatment program.

  4. I ve been smoking for 25 years on and off mostly .on. I am finally at the. Point were i don’t crave it ,I think it’s.because. iit’ not like it used to be the 80’s it seems more chemical. On any. Note I wish anyone the best and do what you have to to quite you don’t want to waste your life on that shit

  5. Hi Stranger. Based on limited laboratory testing, it appears that cocaine and its metabolites can be detected in semen. However, this amount is probably too small, even in chronic or heavy users, to produce any effect in you. Sometimes the power of suggestion is very strong, maybe that’s what has caused your symptoms.

  6. Can you get high on crack just by being around someone for 20 minutes who is smoking it .. I’m an escourt and went on a call and the guy was smoking crack he was acting strange so I felt uncomfortable and left to go home but then started getting panic attacks weather giving him a bj would have allowed me some how to get high off it or just being around him for 20 mins was enough to get some of IT in my system im really freaked out if anyone can answer my question to help me calm down and relax about it it would be greatly appreciated thanks ..

  7. I shamefully was influenced by an older boyfriend to do it when I was about 22 years old. I tried it about 3 or 4 times. I didn’t get the slightest high while he turned into a crazy person. Seriously was completely normal with no change in feeling/mental state etc. Seeing my bf in that state was enough to not make me want to keep trying. I guess my question is, why didn’t I get high? I had done other drugs in the past and felt the effects immediately. 5 years later I have no interest in it or any others at this point but I’ve always been curious about how I potentially dodged a life long addiction.

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