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What Is Crack Cocaine?

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It all started back when you were in college. You’d gotten into Greek life at Chapman University and remember spending most of your time either at parties or recovering from the aftermath. You’d never felt so free in your life. You didn’t want to worry about the rest of the world, you just wanted to have fun. You never would’ve expected how your substance use and partying would impact you in the long run, half the time you barely thought about how it would impact you the next day.

Now you were out of school and on your own even more so than you’d been in college. While you didn’t go out and party like you used to, the substance use hadn’t stopped. Cocaine felt like a necessity. How else could you unwind? What else would you do during the evenings? How else would you hang out with your friends who were also smoking crack? It felt like an inevitability that you couldn’t get out of. Is this where you wanted to be? 

Young adults in California are most susceptible to experimenting with substances. In the past year, nearly 8% of people aged 18-25 in California admitted to having cocaine at least once within the past year. Here at Pacific Sands, we’ve seen people from all walks of life and histories come into our doors. As a private facility with a 6-client maximum, we strive to offer one-on-one, dedicated care to every client who’s with us. We know, however, that there’s more to recovery than what happens within our walls. As a way to support the community around us, we talk on topics involving substance use to help people make more informed decisions about their health. Today we’re going to answer the question, “What is crack cocaine?” Let’s talk about it.

What Exactly Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is an illegal stimulant substance. It’s in the same family as cocaine but it has a few differences. It was first noted in circulation in the 1980s and has remained fairly prevalent ever since.

Let’s take a look at the differences between crack cocaine and cocaine.

understanding crack cocaine and its effects

What Are the Differences Between Cocaine and Crack Cocaine? 

Crack cocaine is a derivative of cocaine. Cocaine originates from the leaves of the coca plant which is native to South America. Cocaine most commonly comes in a white or off-white powder form. Crack cocaine, on the other hand, comes in opaque, rock-like forms that are generally off-white in color.

Crack cocaine is made by processing the cocaine hydrochloride into a smokeable form. This process occurs by utilizing ammonia, baking soda, and water with the cocaine before heating it. The process removes the hydrochloride from the product.

Overall, there are more similarities than differences between cocaine and crack cocaine. One of the biggest differences, however, is how the two substances are consumed. 

Cocaine is consumed by either snorting the powder or rubbing it on the gums. Crack cocaine is consumed by smoking.

The Different Street Names for Crack Cocaine

Street names are another difference between cocaine and crack cocaine. Street names are utilized as a way for those engaging in substance use to talk about it on the down low. While some street names for cocaine might overlap with those used for crack, there are some street names that are specific to crack cocaine.

Some of the common street names for crack cocaine include crack, golf ball, white ball, jellybeans, dice, gravel, black rock, sleet, hail, and rocks.

It’s important to remember that not all street names may be publicly known and street names can vary by local dialect.

Are There Different Side Effects of Crack Cocaine Use?

While many of the side effects of crack cocaine will overlap with those experienced from cocaine use, there are some unique side effects specific to crack.

Because crack cocaine is smoked, people who consume crack instead of cocaine have a higher chance of developing lung conditions or experiencing lung irritation.

The other side effects of crack cocaine consumption can be broken down into a few different categories. There are side effects that are often felt during consumption, side effects felt after it has left your system, and the side effects of long-term use that may develop over time.

During the time that crack cocaine is in your system, people tend to experience increased energy, confidence levels, and euphoria. Because crack cocaine is a stimulant, it also will increase breathing rate, blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate. 

While crack cocaine enters the system more quickly than cocaine that is consumed by snorting or rubbing on the gums, the effects can leave just as quickly, too. When someone is coming down from cocaine use, it is often referred to as a “crash.” The sudden loss of energy and euphoria can leave people feeling depressed, lethargic, and an overall experience of discomfort.

Other side effects of continued consumption of crack cocaine can include reduced appetite, increased anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, headaches, irritability, aggression, and psychosis.

The Unique Dangers of Crack Cocaine

Cocaine already comes with its own list of risks from use, but what about crack cocaine? Is it the same list of risks or is there more to it?

The effects of stimulants on our system can lead to new or worsening conditions that negatively impact the body. The effects that occur in the different parts of the body vary in severity. Let’s take a closer look at the potential risks of crack cocaine use. 

  • The vascular system – This system includes our veins and our heart. Because stimulants often impact heart rate, continued use of crack cocaine can lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure. It can also cause irregular heartbeat, palpitations, chest pains, increased risk for heart attacks, and permanent heart damage. Vasospasms are also associated with cocaine use. This can happen even with small doses of crack, causing the vascular system to spasm, and it has the potential to be fatal.
  • The respiratory system – The most common way the respiratory system is impacted by crack cocaine use is by inducing rapid or irregular breathing. This can impact the oxygen levels getting into our body and can lead to dizziness or unconsciousness. In extreme cases, there is a risk of experiencing respiratory collapse.
  • The muscular system – Tremors and muscle twitches are both common side effects of crack cocaine consumption. These can last even after the crack cocaine is out of your system depending on your history of substance use. Abdominal pain is also a common side effect.

With long-term use, other side effects can occur as well. There is the risk of long-term damage to any of the systems mentioned above, as well as increased risks for strokes, seizures, and kidney failure.


What Treatment Options Are Available for Crack Cocaine Use in California?

Whether you’ve experienced any of the above side effects or not, if at any point in your life, you wish to step away from crack cocaine, there are cocaine treatment options available for you. Cocaine use disorders are treatable, and you deserve access to the best treatment to suit your needs.

When seeking recovery services for cocaine use disorders, inpatient and outpatient services will be the most common options presented. Inpatient services are where you stay on-site during treatment, giving you the chance to fully focus on your recovery. Outpatient services allow you to stay at home at night while still going in regularly for treatment and recovery programming. Many people utilize outpatient treatment as a way to transition from inpatient treatment back into being at home.

No matter what treatment option you feel will best suit your needs, you deserve a hands-on team that’s dedicated to your recovery. You deserve a team that’s solution-focused, who’s adaptable, and wants to ensure you have a say in your recovery plan.

If this sounds like the right fit for you, Pacific Sands has you covered. Our high-end facility offers a private setting that’s adaptable to your needs. We want to see you succeed in your recovery and are ready to work with you to make that happen. Give us a call anytime at 949-426-7962 and we’ll get you started today.

Pacific Sands – The first step towards a new life.


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