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What is crack?

Crack, the freebase form of cocaine, is created when cocaine is mixed with water and other solvents (mostly sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate, and ammonium carbonate). After mixing, crack cocaine is then cooked into a hard, rock form.

Typically, crack is used by smoking it through a glass pipe. This way, it is quickly absorbed into the blood stream and reaches the brain in a matter of seconds. However, crack can also be injected intravenously directly into the blood system. Users also snort crack, since it affects the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) and produces a quick high when nasally insufflated. However, because there is no way to know how much of the drug is actually contained in any single batch of crack, and using crack can quickly lead to toxic overdose and serious consequences.

Why do people use crack?

People use crack because of the relatively low-cost and the extreme high that results from using it. In fact, crack has become one of the most widely abused drugs in the United States. The “high” crack offers only lasts a few solid minutes, so usually people abuse crack progressively, in order to prolong the effects of the drug. This is also why crack is so addictive.

Crack effects

Crack affects the body as a whole. It changes the brain chemistry by stimulating the release of dopamine in the body. After inhaling crack, users experience an instant rush that can last for a period of minutes. Euphoric effect is then followed by a “crash” that drives them to crave the drug and compulsively use more. As a result, users can experience euphoria and supreme confidence as well as extreme paranoia.

A list of common side effects associated with crack use include:

  • Aggressive outbursts
  • Alertness
  • Cravings
  • Extreme euphoria
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased energy
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sexual ability
  • Seizures
  • Strain on the heart
  • Sudden heart attack or stroke
  • Violent behavior

Excessive crack users can also experience formication, nicknamed the “cocaine bugs” or “coke bugs”. Other negative side effects of crack use include:

  • Broken interpersonal relationships
  • Death
  • Depression
  • Financial crisis

Crack also influences pregnant crack users and their babies. During the prenatal period, crack cocaine can increase the risk of miscarriage, trigger pre-term labor, or impair an infants’ normal growth. Babies exposed to crack cocaine have low birth weight which can result in death. After birth, if a mother continues using crack, it will be present in her milk and breastfeeding is not recommended.

Is crack addictive?

Yes, crack is addictive. In fact, crack is a highly potent, very powerful stimulant drug; it is known to be more powerful, cause physical dependence faster and to be far more dangerous than powder cocaine. Crack abuse leads to crack addiction very quickly, and the reason is the drugs’ strong potential to cause physical and psychological dependence. Actually, addiction can develop after one single use, or after just a few uses of crack.

Crack addiction is a state of captivity. The drug takes control over a user’s life, making it very difficult to stop. Cravings to smoke crack can dominate the psyche and all daily activities can become directed towards obtaining and using the drug.

To learn more about crack cocaine, feel free to explore the following topics:


10 Crack rehabilitation: How long?

Crack rehabilitation: How long?

March 4th, 2016

Crack is super addictive! A 28 day stay in rehab is the bare minimum for most people. In fact, some patients may be asked to stay in rehabilitation programs for crack for 3 months, or more. Learn more about the factors that lead to rehab duration, here.

67 Ready to stop doing crack? Ways to quit crack safely

Ready to stop doing crack? Ways to quit crack safely

December 10th, 2015

Is cold turkey withdrawal from crack always advised? We review the steps you can take to safely stop taking crack here.

26 How to stop using crack

How to stop using crack

March 12th, 2015

The best way to stop using crack is with medical supervision, so that you can receive the psycho-emotional support that you need. More on how to stop using and avoiding relapse here.

82 Crack detox timeline: How long to detox from crack?

Crack detox timeline: How long to detox from crack?

January 19th, 2015

Crack detox is most severe in the first week after last use. But psychological withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks and even months after cessation. A clear picture of what to expect during crack detox here.

11 Can you get addicted to crack?

Can you get addicted to crack?

October 17th, 2014

Yes, you can get addicted to crack. In fact, crack is HIGHLY addictive as a result of euphoric effect and short half-life. More on the addictive properties of crack here.

10 Crack detox treatment

Crack detox treatment

August 20th, 2014

Currently, pharmaceutical treatments for crack detox are limited. But you don’t need to detox alone. What treatment options are available to you? We review here.

17 How long does crack last?

How long does crack last?

July 15th, 2014

Crack lasts for 1-2 hours after administration (depending on the dose) but the euphoric high lasts for about 5-15 minutes. More on the REAL effects of crack here.

12 Can you get high on crack?

Can you get high on crack?

June 10th, 2014

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.

20 Dependence on crack

Dependence on crack

May 14th, 2014

Dependence on crack cocaine occurs after regular, daily use and can manifest in a series of symptoms when you stop using crack. More on the signs of crack dependence and its treatment here.

57 Crack overdose: How much amount of crack to OD?

Crack overdose: How much amount of crack to OD?

March 26th, 2014

How does an overdose on crack happen and what are the signs of crack overdose? We review here.

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Leave a Reply

15 Responses to “Crack
8:53 am April 30th, 2016

I have been clean now almost 10 months , i thought I’d never get past the feeling flat but it isn’t the worst part or the trauma, or the people that are lost , dead or the things you have done for this drug. The worst part is…you felt like these people were your friends because you spent so much time together, in it …together and the horrible things you have done to one another and once you get past it , the addiction, the wanting, ohh and i know it’s not over and probably never will be …but the actual worst thing is you want to do something for them, just like when you were out there , wanting to do something for them and never being able to , whether you hooked them up or not , you weren’t able to help them and worst of all , you still can’t.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:35 pm May 13th, 2016

Thanks for sharing, Julie.

8:35 pm June 5th, 2016

I’ve been a heroine and cocaine addict and alcoholic for 15 plus years. I went to detox on may 6th. Six weeks before I went I to the detox I was kicked off of a methadone clinic. My last dose was 150mgs and that was a steady daily dose for 10 years. I’m also positive for hepatitis c. While at the methadone clinic I was given random oral swabs and I would show positive for cocaine for up to three weeks after last use! On friday June 3rd I smoked crack for the first time since may 6th. I consumed about a half of a gram and also drank the night of may 6th and may 7th. Both nights I had two double shots of vodka mixed with about one bottle of wine. My question is this… I have a urine test that is the morning of Wednesday June 8th and I’m worried that I will still test positive for cocaine and or alcohol. Other then Friday and Saturday (the 3rd and fourth) I haven’t been using or drinking. If cocaine stayed in my system for 3 weeks while I was on methadone clinic and using daily, is it likely that it will still stay in my system now that I’m not on methadone and not using habitually? I’m on suboxone now, although I’m not using g any opiates or craving them, I’m having a lot of trouble staying g away from alcohol and that seems to lead me to my DOC which is cocaine/crack. What do you think my chances of passing my June 8th (wednesday) urine screen? I have already failed 2 screens for alcohol because I drank 2 days prior to the test and now I’m concerned that if I fail another one I will be discharged from the suboxone program. I know what I need to do to be sober…. I just don’t know why I’m not doing it, seeing as I’ve lost everything… anything will help. I’m getting a lot of mixed answers
and also, my hep c levels are normal, will this still effect the length of time substances stay in my system.

10:14 pm September 18th, 2016

My partner has been smoking crack for 12 years now. I have only been with him for two. He has stopped 3 times before. And the longest time was 3 years in prison. When he came out he went back to it. On our journey, which has been a nightmare for me. I have seen him smoke it. And come down from it. But something tells me he is smoking heroin to come down. His eyes are like tiny pins. And he paces slowly, stops looks at his hand, dresses, undresses, gets hot gets cold, and I quiet. He said he doesn’t touch heroin. But I don’t know the come down from crack or the signs . So not sure really. I have asked him and he said no. He is just coming down. He scratches his head all the time. And his not sleeping is getting worse. He said he can stop it and he will. Again!!

3:04 am February 25th, 2017

My partner used for 30 yrs, myself as i’m younger for 20yrs. We were both desperate to stop, always thought I would be the first. Then he became very ill beyond ill and he stopped everything-just like THAT. N0w he is home(a miracle) and is clean and i’m the one struggling to stop the cigarettes, the crack ive more or less managed but I cannot stop the heroin and think about it all the time, and my giving up is just a case of white knuckling it, not a smooth transition towards a common goal. I am stuck without a clue what to do next? Help.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:24 pm February 28th, 2017

Hi Desperate. Call the Cocaine Helpline on 1-888-497-6879 to get in touch with dependable hotline professionals available 24/7. You will be talking to someone knowledgeable about cocaine abuse, rehab and recovery centers who can help you find a cocaine recovery program.

Embarrassed Kay
6:38 pm April 2nd, 2017

Well where do I begin. I met this man 3 years ago he would disappear 4 days I thought it was another woman at one time is he taking care of another household or what I didn’t know anything about this man I met him through my neighbor a church member see I had a house fire and had nowhere else to go and my church member which was my neighbor introduced me to her brother her brother helps people out and me and my two sons rented some rooms out and his house we started talking and he was helping me out told me to keep my money and save my money all he asks is if he can take me out on a date and I agreed one date turned into two years two years chaos let me tell you about it like I said earlier he would disappear for days 3 days 4 days I used to think I was another woman until he wouldn’t missing for two weeks I called the police to do a missing persons report because I was really worried I called his parents his sister they couldn’t tell me anything they didn’t they didn’t have a clue where he was as they kept telling me there is no other woman I’m like are you sure the police told me that he has a drug addiction issue. Is his sister and his mother about it they denied it they said only thing was alcohol that they knew about now he pops up out the blue like everything is okay I’m asking questions still no typer answer anything so he comes back in the home like everything’s okay he works and works and works and then he back out there again two three weeks at a time then he comes back telling me all he drinks he drinks he just has a alcohol problem most alcoholics I know they drink it home they don’t go out and Benz and drink I’m thinking to myself is something else going on here well if you don’t know anything about drugs if you haven’t had any type of addiction issues and your family you are green and to these type of situations like myself well that year one bye two years went by name this is the straw that broke the camel’s back after me doing all my researches and researching on him I found out that yes he does have a habit he’s a crack attic and uses alcohol is well and he been just he hangs out with prostitutes every time you see him or pull up in his drug-infested neighborhood he’s in a car full of prostitutes crack prostitutes they getting high and who else knows what’s going on he claims he’s never had sex with them but he lied to me about doing drugs so if you lie about this what else would you lie about I have to move on this is not good for me nor my kids if anybody out there going through the same thing that I’m going through there’s no changing there is no helping they need a train therapist Rehabilitation no love can not help this and God can’t neither I listen to people pray to God yes you pray to God but actually we have to overcome certain circumstances God gives us the will and the strength to be strong but if that person does not want to change there’s nothing we can do and I see that after three years it took me three years to say hell no get out of the situation leave them he going to still be there they can still be doing the same thing getting high and he spends thousands of dollars a week I set up all night reading these stories I learned a lot I learnt that I can’t live my life this way and neither should you if you’re going through something like this it’s time to wrap it up and let it go because something better and greater is out there you can’t keep running behind a drug addict what is that going to do for you that’s go put stress aging depressed suppressant on you and this is not cool he breaks into my house like I can’t keep no electronics out I’m too afraid he might steal them. Is like what do I do what do I do I care for him I do but then when you look at him out there in the streets doing with these crackheads and Winos you like really no way you would stoop to your level like this crack he claims that he doesn’t have sex with nobody but I read up on this drug and and it makes your sexuality. My question is the people really stay clean because 99% of people relapse

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:27 pm April 6th, 2017

Hi Embarrassed Kay. There are people who are being clean, and stayed clean forever. Those embraced their recovery as a way of living. It’s hard to get there, but there are people who succeeded.

2:37 am April 12th, 2017

Hello I am wondering my husband smoked crack o. Fri night up til sat noon n has a drug test Tomm at 10 wl u please tell me if he will… Thanks so much

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:28 pm April 14th, 2017

Hi Joann. Usually, crack can be detected 2-4 days in urine after the last dose. But, this detection window is larger for heavy and/or binge users. I suggest that you download our free e-book ‘The Definitive Guide To Drug Testing’ to learn more about drug testing:

11:51 pm July 12th, 2017

Very interesting articles. Someone I care about has been doing more and more and I’m getting more and more worried! Is there anything that I can do?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:04 pm July 14th, 2017

Hi Stephanie. You may look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help:

3:18 am August 15th, 2017

I dissagree.people can use it and control it😚

1:58 am January 18th, 2018

In the past, I smoked crack heavily for maybe 10 years, but when I was done and I wanted something else more than I wanted crack, I voluntarily went into rehab where I thrived and became a role model for others. I never had the slightest urge, even when I took weekend leaves and hung out with my boyfriend and friends who would all be smoking it right in front of me all the time. I stayed clean for 11 years. Then my fiancé committed suicide and I started crack again. In the past my REASONS for doing it started out as having fun and then becoming physically addicted, so after 36 hours, it wasn’t a problem anymore. This time though, I’m doing it to escape my life and my useless existence. I’m almost menopausal and never had kids or married. He suicided 5 years ago, and I’ve gone from blaming myself 100% to about 80% and that’s as good as it will ever get. He and I were together 7 years, at the end of my “dateability” as a woman (I turned 40 with him). I look really old from sobbing nonstop for 2 solid years, followed by 2 years of crack use. I’m having a really hard time trying to quit this time and need help. But my family cannot find out, and I have to work 5 days a week. I have Community Health insurance (Obamacare?). Any suggestions?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:53 pm January 25th, 2018

Hi Jewel. I’m really sorry for your loss… You are not responsible for the suicide. I suggest that you call the Cocaine Helpline listed here on 1-888-497-6879 to get in touch with dependable hotline professionals available 24/7. You will be talking to someone knowledgeable about cocaine abuse, rehab and recovery centers who can help you find a cocaine recovery program.

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