How does crack work?

Crack cocaine works by affecting the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain. Can you make crack work better? What does crack do in the body? More on how crack cocaine works in the brain and body here. Plus a section for your questions about crack at the end.

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Cocaine is a stimulant that increases pleasure and mental alertness in the brain. But how exactly does crack cocaine in your system affect the body and brain? Does crack have the same effects for everyone and how do people get addicted to crack ? And while crack cocaine peaks almost instantly when you smoke it, can you make cocaine effects last longer or work better? We’ll explore these questions and more in this article. And we invite your questions about how cocaine works at the end.

How does crack affect the brain and nervous system?

Cocaine affects the dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain. These types of neurotransmitters control your feelings and the way you feel pleasure. Specifically, cocaine causes a build-up of dopamine that floods you with good moods and sensations of pleasure in a very short amount of time. However, even though you feel so good when you snort or use cocaine, use comes with realy risk. The more you abuse cocaine, the more it will alter your brain chemistry. That is, after you use cocaine for a while and try to stop, you have a hard time feeling pleasure and the natural reward system in the brain has been altered.

How does crack work in the body?

Cocaine is a stimulant drug. When you are on crack cocaine your brain moves faster, you talk faster, and your body in general feels a little jittery. You also feel hotter when you are on the drug. Sometimes crack will make you twitch. It also constricts the blood vessels, making it really hard to get blood to the heart. You are at risk of your heart beating too fast, which can be very dangerous and potentially life threatening.

When the cocaine wears off, you crash and many other things happen to your body. You can become lethargic and really sleepy. You can feel drained, irritable, and restless. Smoking crack over long periods of time will damage your nasal passages and potentially cause undernourishment.

How fast or quickly does crack work?

Cocaine works rather quickly. When you snort cocaine, it is quickly absorbs into the blood stream. It only takes a few minutes for the cocaine to act on the brain and induce a euphoric high. If, however, you plan to smoke the crack form of cocaine it works almost instantly. The same for intravenous use. Native cultures in South America have chewed on cocaine leaves for generations for its mild stimulant effects. Oral ingestion of cocaine in this manner does take a while for cocaine to act on the central nervous system, about one hour, or so.

How long does crack work?

The faster the absorption of cocaine the more intense and rapid the high, but the shorter the duration of action. While smoked crack cocaine takes a quick time to act on the body, the high is also relatively quick at around 15 minutes.  Same for snorted cocaine. When you snort cocaine it begins to wear off about 30 to 40 minutes after you have snorted it. That is why many people take more than one hit in order to feel the continuous high. Increased hits, however, increase the dangerousness of the drug.

Making crack work better: Risks of use

Many people have been known to take other drugs with cocaine in order to make cocaine work better. One common substance used with cocaine is alcohol. But this is very dangerous! Mixing crack and alcohol together creates a third chemical called cocholoytlate. Cocholoytlate increases the absorption rate of the cocaine, increasing the high and elongating it. BEWARE: this chemical is highly dangerous and both the alcohol and the cocaine continually increase the potency of each. Sudden death and overdose may result when mixing cocaine with alcohol. Making the cocaine “work better” and stronger makes it a potent and dangerous drug to be tampering with.

Does crack work for everyone?

Everyone is different and has different tolerances to cocaine. Some may not be affected by cocaine as much as others. In general, however, many people can and do feel the euphoric effects of cocaine in the body and some sort of change does occur in the body when you take it. How greatly cocaine affects the body varies by those who use it.

How crack works questions

Do you still have questions about how cocaine works? Please leave your questions here. We will try our best to answer you personally and promptly. And if we don’t know the answer to your questions, we’ll refer you to someone who does.

Reference Sources: NIDA: Brain’s response to Cocaine
NIDA: Cocaine
NIDA: Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
NHTSA: 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. I think even though there is a general effect from crack, it is true that it’s down also to the individual…when I first started taking it, there was an amazing buzz instantly, followed by about 15/20 minutes of complete relaxation, I wanted to be left alone with my eyes shut whilst I mentally floated.

  2. To just curious: if your”friend” has a problem direct him instead of judging him and if he doesn’t change at least you tried cuz if he died you would feel like shit… If he refused the help leave him be. When he’s ready he’ll b ready but don’t b hypocritical because you have things in your life your not perfect at it just may not be drug’s

  3. My friend twitches A LOT. can people who use crack twitch even when they are not high on the drug or ONLY while using the drug.
    I have a feeling hes using while hes with me and i really don’t want to be around him if this is the case.

    1. Hi, Michael. I did some research on natural dopamine increase, and find out that there are many natural dopmine boosters that you may try. You can decrease your sugar intake, eat more bananas, decrease caffeine intake, correct a magnesium deficiency, take vitamins, etc. Also, you can do the same by searching using these keywords: dopamine natural increase. Moreover, I suggest you consult a nutritionist.

  4. Hi Zon. We’re glad that we can help. You can call 1-800-662-HELP to get connected with sliding scale, very low cost, or free drug addiction in your state. You can do it!

  5. first off all i want to thank you guys for this articles, they are very to the point on what i had no understanding of, i have been smoking crack since 1990, beat a life sentence trial and still went back to using then last may 5 lost my family, they had enough of my problems,and told me if i want tb with them, wife and son, am now on a mission of redempemtio..after losin my familly in may ,i neve been in rehab i guess it was denial or i didnt want to hear what i new that drugs kill you, but now i see is more then that, i really had a problem and try to cover up with excuses and lies, i i want my family back am noy biuld for this single life my heart is broken in two, i will read your articles everyxay. next month go see a doctor for mh mood swings,,

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