People who use cocaine choose from two different forms: powder cocaine or crack cocaine. Powder cocaine is exactly what it sounds like. It comes in a loose white powder that people consume by snorting or injecting. The other type of cocaine is commonly called “crack,” and it works a little differently from powder cocaine.

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What is Crack?

Crack, just like powder cocaine, is an illegal stimulant drug that comes from the coca plant. Unlike the powder form, crack cocaine usually looks like a rock crystal. Instead of snorting or injecting the substance, crack users will smoke this drug. The name “crack” comes from the crackling noise that it makes when heated. People use crack recreationally because it produces a “high.” With crack, a high means extreme happiness, increased confidence, and elevated energy. Unfortunately, though, those feelings are temporary while the dangers last much longer.

According to one study, childhood abuse contributed to 60% of crack use.

Is Crack Addictive?

Yes, crack cocaine is very addictive. In fact, many former drug users have said that crack is the most addictive form of cocaine. Although some scientists have disputed this claim, cocaine itself has extremely addictive properties due to the way that it takes over the brain’s reward system. When a person eats, exercises, has sex, or does anything that helps with human survival, the brain releases something called dopamine, a chemical that makes the person feel good. When a person uses cocaine, that person’s brain will overload itself with dopamine. The rush feels great a first, but once the brain gets used to the extra dopamine, a normal amount won’t feel like enough. Therefore, a person who uses cocaine will have to keep returning to the drug to get the same rush.

Crack is also uniquely addictive because its users often chase an impossible high.

Crack can have different levels of purity. Many drug dealers will mix their product with other substances before they sell it. If a person uses a pure form of crack, the high will be much stronger than if they use crack that was mixed with something else. The individual will likely keep buying crack in hopes of achieving the same kind of high, but they will have no way of knowing whether they are buying pure crack or something else. When repeated binges leave them unsatisfied, crack users will keep searching for that first high as they spiral deeper and deeper into addiction.

If this addiction spiral sounds familiar to you, you can find your way out. You don’t have to do it alone. Call 800-492-QUIT to get help.

The Dangers of Crack

crack is pure. During the “cooking” process, crack can be mixed with nearly anything. Baking soda is one of the more common products, but crack may also be mixed with substances that are toxic to humans. Because crack is illegal, it’s also unregulated. Once again, a person who buys crack will have no way of knowing whether or not the product is pure until he or she smokes it. By that point, it can cause all sorts of health problems and even death.

Additionally, crack use comes with other dangers. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Insomnia
  • Twitching
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Poor decision making
  • Lung problems

The lung problems are a side effect specific to crack as opposed to powder cocaine. Because crack is smoked, crack users inhale harmful substances into their lungs. In addition, when crack users smoke with glass pipes, those pipes sometimes break. When this happens, a crack user might accidentally inhale glass shards into his or her lungs.


Even among other street drugs, crack has a high potential for overdose. A crack high only lasts for a few minutes. Those who use crack tend to smoke it in binges. They use large amounts of the drug hoping to maintain the high. This is why a person might overdose even on their first crack binge. A crack overdose can cause heart attack, stroke, seizures, or death.

Getting Out of the Spiral

If you’re addicted to crack cocaine, or if you’re worried that a loved one might be addicted, you can get help. Start by calling

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