What Are The Differences Between Crack And Cocaine?

February 19, 2021

Cocaine is a drug often abused. This drug can be found in two forms: powdered form, which we simply refer to as coke or cocaine, and rock form, which is known as crack or crack cocaine.


Cocaine and crack cocaine are essentially the same substance. However, aside from their forms, there are several notable differences between the two.


How is Crack Cocaine made?

Crack cocaine combines cocaine (a hydrochloride salt) with water and another substance, typically baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). The mixture is then boiled to form a solid. This solid is then cooled and broken into smaller pieces to sell as crack.


Crack gets its name from the crackling sound it makes when it is heated and smoke. Because of the rock’s broken appearance, other slang terms for this substance include “crumbs, “hail,” “gravel, “dice,” and “nuggets.”


How Is Cocaine Used?

Because of the immediate euphoric effect, cocaine became wildly popular during the mid-80s. There are four primary ways to take cocaine: orally, intranasally, intravenously, and smoking.

  • Oral use

Some people who use cocaine rub the substance on their gums.

  • Intranasal use

Some snort cocaine by inhaling the powder through their nostrils. The bloodstream absorbs the drug through nasal tissues. It travels through the nose’s blood vessels to the heart and to the lungs to be oxygenated. Finally, the oxygenated blood will reach the brain.

  • Intravenous use

People who use cocaine also dissolve it in water and inject the compound into a vein. This method allows the substance directly into the bloodstream, intensifying the effects.

  • Smoking

Lastly, people who use cocaine can inhale the drug’s smoke or vapor into their lungs. The bloodstream absorbs the substance almost as quickly as by injection.


Freebasing cocaine involves a long and dangerous extraction process. The result would be a purified and highly potent form of cocaine.


Smoking cocaine poses some long-term respiratory complications. Chronic cocaine smoking is associated with several; respiratory issues like:

  • Blackened sputum (phlegm)
  • Chronic cough with chest pains
  • Reduced lung capacity
  • Lung scarring


How Is Crack Used?

People primarily smoke crack cocaine. However, unlike cocaine, there is no purification process with crack. With additives and dilutants, it is less pure.


Because it goes straight to the lungs, the euphoric effects are almost immediate but do not last as long as cocaine. They may also experience other respiratory symptoms within minutes or hours of smoking. These include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Pneumothorax
  • Pulmonary hemorrhage
  • Exacerbation of asthma


Other Difference Between Crack And Cocaine

  • Price

Cocaine is commonly regarded as “the rich man’s drug.” Crack, on the other hand, typically sells cheaper because it’s not as expensive to produce. The cocaine in crack is cut with other substances, resulting in a less pure form, therefore sells for less.

  • Popularity

Cocaine in its powdered form is more frequently used, despite crack being cheaper. According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services (SAMHSA), only around a quarter of the 1.9 million people who use cocaine in the US use it in crack form.

  • Effect Time

The effect of crack is almost immediate compared to cocaine because people inhale the smoke, which can cover more surface area in the respiratory system and allow the substance to enter the bloodstream quickly. Cocaine, on the other hand, would take effect in about three to five minutes after being snorted and 15 to 30 minutes after being injected. However, the high from smoking crack wears off quicker than inhaling cocaine in powdered form.


How Addictive Are Cocaine and Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine, in either form, is a highly addictive substance, which can lead to an overdose. It’s classified as a Schedule II drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16,000 people had died from a cocaine overdose in 2019.


In terms of pharmacology, cocaine and crack are similar, meaning that neither is more addictive than the other. Be that as it may, crack is relatively more addictive and potent than cocaine. The intoxication from it happens faster– it comes quicker and lasts for a shorter time– than cocaine. 


With the short but pleasurable experience, people want more of the drug to sustain it. Hence, an addiction to crack develops rapidly. That’s why people who use crack are more likely to abuse and get addicted to it than powdered cocaine.


Is Crack Worse Than Cocaine?

In a sense, yes, crack is worse than cocaine. Although both drugs pose the same effects and dangers, smoking crack allows it to reach the brain faster and has more intense effects than snorting or orally using cocaine. Due to the short pleasurable effects, people who use it are more likely to abuse crack and get addicted quicker. 


How Similar Are Crack And Cocaine?

Crack cocaine and cocaine are essentially the same substance except for their forms and methods of taking them. More than those, they both have adverse and dangerous effects on the body, especially if crack is smoked and coke is injected.


Cocaine, a stimulant, triggers a rush of dopamine in the brain, creating a sense of great euphoria. However, the letdown is just as intense, possibly leading to depression. That depression is due to the extreme overloading of the brain’s reward centers. People who use cocaine are tempted to continue to use the drug to avoid this situation.


There are also indications that a person has a coke or crack addiction. These include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Irregular sleep pattern
  • Loss of interest in relationships, work, and school, among other things


Moreover, people who use crack and cocaine are at risk for conditions such as seizures, arrhythmia, stroke, and even sudden cardiac death.


What Happens During The Cocaine Detox Process?

The detox process would depend on the type of substance, the severity of withdrawal, and the individual’s health. Detox from stimulants, like cocaine, is often associated with less physical symptoms and is completed relatively quickly.


The best detox for coke or crack would depend on the person’s situation. Health and medical professionals should administer detox. Detox might take longer for those who have been using it for a long time or have health concerns, although in general it can be a quick process.


During the detox, the person may experience these withdrawal symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • General discomfort
  • Agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)


Intense craving for cocaine is a serious symptom with a high risk of relapse. Sometimes, this feeling even lingers for months after the drug has left the person’s system. Cravings are expected to happen more often when the person has been using cocaine for a long time.


If you are or know someone struggling with drug abuse and looking for drug rehab centers in Phoenix, Arizona, turn to Buena Vista Health and Recover Center. You can visit us in Cave Creek, Arizona, or contact us at (800) 922-0095.


Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. This blog aims not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.