What Is Crack Cocaine?

What is Crack Cocaine?

Have you ever wondered: what is crack cocaine? It is a powerful stimulant drug that has been processed into the rock form of cocaine with baking soda or ammonia. Crack is almost always smoked in a glass pipe and gives the user a short, intense high caused by a buildup of dopamine in the brain. Crack cocaine is the most potent form of cocaine. The name crack comes from the crackling noise the drug makes when it is heated up and smoked. 

Short Term Side Effects of Crack Cocaine?

There are a lot of very adverse short term side effects of crack cocaine. Not everyone who uses crack will experience these side effects, but these are some of the most common side effects of crack cocaine use.

  • Euphoria – which is very short-lived. It reaches the brain quickly because it is smoked
  • Hyperactivity 
  • Tension 
  • Talkativeness
  • Confidence 
  • Paranoia
  • Anger
  • Depression 
  • Aggression
  • Hostility 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Insomnia 
  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Erratic behavior
  • Hallucinations 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • Sudden death

Long Term Side Effects of Crack Cocaine

  • Severe respiratory problems – coughing, shortness of breath, lung damage and bleeding. 
  • Continued use can cause severe sleep deprivation
  • Kidney Damage – increased blood pressure causes the kidneys to be damaged because of a loss of blood flow. The kidneys are particularly susceptible to being damaged through lack of oxygen and increased blood pressure.
  • Liver Damage – the body can be flooded with toxins that the liver is unable to filter out. Sometimes this heals itself once a person stops using crack cocaine, but it can lead to acute liver damage in some cases. When combining alcohol and crack cocaine, an incredibly toxic substance, called cocaethylene, is produced in your liver.
  • Heart Damage – When a person combines alcohol with crack cocaine, this can put strain on the heart and other organs. Cocaethylene also puts strain on the heart.
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Loss of appetite – malnutrition 
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels 
  • High blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, stroke, and death
  • Chest pain
  • Respiratory failure
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Disorientation
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations 
  • Worsened memory and attention span
  • Compromised dopamine production

Crack is often mixed with other substances, which can exacerbate the side effects, and that can be extremely dangerous. Crack can also create toxic fumes when burned. Additionally, crack pipes are usually very short, which often leads the user to burn their lips, hands, and fingers.

When a person is coming down from the drug, they can, and often do, experience severe depression, insomnia, suicidal ideations, anxiety, paranoia, and intense drug cravings.


Can You Overdose on Crack Cocaine?

You can absolutely overdose on crack cocaine. Some of the warning signs of an overdose are rapid heart rate, abnormally high blood pressure, chest pain, excessive sweating, extreme agitation, seizure, stroke, coughing up blood, cold sweats, irregular heartbeat, and hallucinations. An overdose, or ingesting too much of the drug, can cause severe, lasting damage to the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles. A user can overdose the first time they use or the 100th time. Combining crack with alcohol or any other drug increases the likelihood of overdose. Other substances, especially alcohol or depressants, such as opiates, can reduce the person’s perceived effects of crack. This causes users to take more and more drugs, which could accidentally lead to an overdose. 

Symptoms of intoxication and overdose are definitely very similar, so it can be hard to tell the difference. Overdose symptoms usually more intense and unusual to how a person normally reacts to the drug. Regardless, it’s always better safe than sorry. Call 911 or go to the hospital if you think you or someone you are with is experiencing an overdose. 

The Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

Pure cocaine is made naturally from plants, while crack is the result of cocaine being mixed with baking soda or other agents that create crack cocaine. The effects of powder cocaine generally last a bit longer, around a 15-30 minute peak high. In contrast, the high from crack is about 5-10 minutes. Therefore, it’s easy to see why crack (and powder cocaine) causes addiction. The user loses the high so quickly that they keep doing it over and over again to try to get the high back.

Additionally, crack cocaine is more potent than powder cocaine, which explains why some users may seek out crack instead of cocaine. Cocaine is sold in larger quantities, which makes it more expensive, so that also explains why someone might seek out crack instead of powder cocaine. Some rocks of crack can be sold for just 5 or 10 dollars, whereas it is more difficult to find someone selling 5 or 10 dollars worth of powder cocaine.


If you've ever wondered what is crack cocaine, I hope this page has given you the information you need. Crack cocaine is a very dangerous and addictive drug. If you or someone you know is addicted to crack cocaine, you should seek help now!

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