Both crack and cocaine are powerful stimulants derived from the coca plant. While they both are derived from the same source, are highly addictive, and serve little to no legitimate medical use in modern times, that’s about all the two substances have in common.

Both crack and cocaine differ significantly when it comes to the way they are used, the forms they are found in, the effect they have on the people taking them, and even their overall perceptions within society. While those are all significant differences, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the difference between crack and cocaine.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between crack and cocaine, but also how you or a loved one can seek help with an addiction to crack or cocaine.

Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

One of the biggest differences between crack and cocaine is the presentation of the two substances.

Cocaine is typically found in a powder form, that is either snorted or injected. It usually produces a rapid but relatively short-lived high that can last from 15 to 30 minutes when snorted, or 5 to 10 minutes when injected. The onset of effects is slower compared to crack. But the effects, such as heightened awareness, energy, and euphoria, last longer.

Crack, on the other hand, often comes in a more rock-like form and is typically smoked. As a result, the effects of crack take effect almost instantly and are typically much more intense compared to cocaine. Since the high is much more instantaneous, it also dissipates at a quicker rate, typically lasting only 5 to 10 minutes. This rapid onset and intense high result in a higher potential for addiction, as users may repeatedly dose to maintain the high.

Another major difference between the two is the way each is made. While they both originate from the coca plant, cocaine is processed using hydrochloric acid. This results in the hydrochloride salt of cocaine. It is water-soluble, which allows cocaine to be snorted or injected. Crack, however, is derived from powdered cocaine hydrochloride that is dissolved in water and mixed with a base (usually baking soda). This is then heated until it solidifies into a hard substance. This solid form is broken into small, smokable chunks, which is where crack gets its name from.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Whether snorted, smoked, or injected, people who regularly use crack, cocaine, or both often suffer from a number of mental and physical ailments, some of which can be severe and even life-threatening.

Short-Term Effects

Someone ingesting cocaine, regardless of the form, may experience feelings of euphoria, heightened energy and alertness, and enhanced self-confidence.

Other common short-term side effects associated with cocaine include:

  1. Dilated pupils
  2. Decrease in appetite
  3. Constricted blood vessels
  4. Increased body temperature
  5. Increased heart rate
  6. Increased blood pressure
  7. Vertigo
  8. Tremors
  9. Muscle twitches
  10. Paranoia
  11. Irritability
  12. Anxiety
  13. Heart attack or stroke (in extreme cases)

Long-Term Effects

Long-term, the effects of cocaine use can be much more extreme, and dangerous.

  1. Persistent anxiety and paranoia
  2. Psychosis
  3. Hallucinations
  4. Severe depression
  5. Sexual dysfunction
  6. Gastrointestinal complications
  7. Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease
  8. Respiratory issues
  9. Neurological damage, such as impaired cognitive function
  10. Addiction
  11. Overdose
  12. Death

Dangers of Cocaine

Older man pausing a run to wipe forehead and drink waterThe dangers of cocaine use extend beyond just some of the health risks we touched on above. Cocaine addiction (as well as crack addiction) can leave lasting effects on the body due to its method of intake as well as its overall effect on the nervous system.

Cocaine can lead to a bevy of potentially life-threatening medical issues including heart attack and stroke, even in young and healthy individuals. Beyond just the increased risk of cardiovascular problems, cocaine use can also lead to malnourishment due to it being an appetite suppressant. Severe gastrointestinal issues that may result sometimes cannot be treated or reversed.

Common effects can include paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations, cocaine use can either worsen or even trigger mental health conditions. For some, prolonged cocaine use can result in severe depression and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

One of the less discussed dangers associated with cocaine use is the purity of the cocaine being ingested. Often, in order to make a greater profit, those who make and sell cocaine will cut the cocaine with what is known as a cutting agent. By cutting the cocaine with another product or substance, they can make more money off a single batch of cocaine.

Some cutting agents are standard household products that have no real harmful effects such as baking soda, flour, or cornstarch. But in some instances, cocaine is cut with powerful stimulants or even opioids, most notably fentanyl.

Ingesting cocaine that has been cut with another harmful substance like fentanyl can greatly increase the risk of major medical complications, including overdose and death. The person thinks they are only ingesting cocaine when, in reality, they are ingesting a mixture of cocaine and another substance which can put an added strain on the body to process. There is also a severe risk of receiving a higher dose than intended, or of dosing oneself with a completely different product than what they believe they are buying.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Knowing the signs of cocaine addiction is crucial, especially when it comes to early intervention and treatment. The earlier that cocaine abuse or addiction is identified, the greater the chances that it can be effectively treated.

Common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  1. Frequent and uncontrollable cravings for cocaine
  2. Increasing tolerance, requiring more of the drug to achieve the same effect
  3. Financial problems due to spending large amounts of money on cocaine
  4. Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  5. Social withdrawal and isolation from family and friends
  6. Engaging in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex or criminal activities, to obtain the drug
  7. Physical signs like rapid weight loss, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, or burns on the lips and fingers
  8. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, and mood swings

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

Young therapist taking notes of discussion between young man and young woman on distance couch

As is the case with all forms of addiction, cocaine addiction is treatable, especially if it is caught early. When it comes to treatment for cocaine addiction, there are a number of different treatment options available including:

Detoxification

To ensure best outcomes, the first step in the overall recovery process is to undergo a medically-assisted detox. Detox is done to rid the body of harmful and addictive substances, so that the body and brain can begin to heal.

Due to the nature of detoxing from cocaine, and the side effects and symptoms associated with detoxing, it is important that detoxing be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also offers detox services such as Principles Recovery Center.

Attempting to self-detox from cocaine can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Cocaine is notorious for strong depressive symptoms in the initial stage of withdrawals, which can often lead many to relapse. Medical professionals can provide medicine to aid in overcoming symptoms, as well as respond immediately if any complications arise.

Treatment

Once detox has been completed, the next step is to enter into a treatment program. Depending on your needs and the advice of your treatment professional, you can enter either an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization program.

For those choosing inpatient treatment, you will be required to live at the treatment facility for the duration of your treatment program, attending therapy sessions and other aspects of your treatment program throughout the day. Inpatient treatment allows you to focus time and energy on your treatment without any outside distractions or obligations.

For those who are either unwilling or unable to go to inpatient treatment, or for those who don’t need intensive treatment, outpatient treatment is another option. With outpatient treatment, you go to the treatment facility during the day for various therapy sessions (and other services) and return home to your normal life and obligations. It is important that effective outpatient treatment requires that you have a sober and supportive house to return to each day.

If you are someone who doesn’t require the intensity or around-the-clock supervision of inpatient treatment but would also like to have access to more treatment and services than outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization might be best for you. With partial hospitalization, you still get to live at home while undergoing treatment but you also have access to certain services that those in inpatient have as well, such as medication-assisted treatment.

For those who can complete some recovery but have pressing responsibilities, intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) may be the ideal solution. An IOP allows for day or night options for people to participate in treatment. Flexibility is the main appeal, with every individual’s treatment plan formulated to best support their recovery.

Recover From Cocaine Addiction at Principles Recovery

At Principles Recovery, we understand the profound impact cocaine addiction can have on individuals and their families. Our comprehensive approach to treatment is designed to address the unique needs of each person, providing the best chance for a successful recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction of any kind, including cocaine or crack, contact us today.

What’s the Difference Between Crack and Cocaine?

Home > Uncategorized > What’s the Difference Between Crack and Cocaine?

Both crack and cocaine are powerful stimulants derived from the coca plant. While they both are derived from the same source, are highly addictive, and serve little to no legitimate medical use in modern times, that’s about all the two substances have in common.

Both crack and cocaine differ significantly when it comes to the way they are used, the forms they are found in, the effect they have on the people taking them, and even their overall perceptions within society. While those are all significant differences, that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the difference between crack and cocaine.

Keep reading to learn more about the differences between crack and cocaine, but also how you or a loved one can seek help with an addiction to crack or cocaine.

Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

One of the biggest differences between crack and cocaine is the presentation of the two substances.

Cocaine is typically found in a powder form, that is either snorted or injected. It usually produces a rapid but relatively short-lived high that can last from 15 to 30 minutes when snorted, or 5 to 10 minutes when injected. The onset of effects is slower compared to crack. But the effects, such as heightened awareness, energy, and euphoria, last longer.

Crack, on the other hand, often comes in a more rock-like form and is typically smoked. As a result, the effects of crack take effect almost instantly and are typically much more intense compared to cocaine. Since the high is much more instantaneous, it also dissipates at a quicker rate, typically lasting only 5 to 10 minutes. This rapid onset and intense high result in a higher potential for addiction, as users may repeatedly dose to maintain the high.

Another major difference between the two is the way each is made. While they both originate from the coca plant, cocaine is processed using hydrochloric acid. This results in the hydrochloride salt of cocaine. It is water-soluble, which allows cocaine to be snorted or injected. Crack, however, is derived from powdered cocaine hydrochloride that is dissolved in water and mixed with a base (usually baking soda). This is then heated until it solidifies into a hard substance. This solid form is broken into small, smokable chunks, which is where crack gets its name from.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Whether snorted, smoked, or injected, people who regularly use crack, cocaine, or both often suffer from a number of mental and physical ailments, some of which can be severe and even life-threatening.

Short-Term Effects

Someone ingesting cocaine, regardless of the form, may experience feelings of euphoria, heightened energy and alertness, and enhanced self-confidence.

Other common short-term side effects associated with cocaine include:

  1. Dilated pupils
  2. Decrease in appetite
  3. Constricted blood vessels
  4. Increased body temperature
  5. Increased heart rate
  6. Increased blood pressure
  7. Vertigo
  8. Tremors
  9. Muscle twitches
  10. Paranoia
  11. Irritability
  12. Anxiety
  13. Heart attack or stroke (in extreme cases)

Long-Term Effects

Long-term, the effects of cocaine use can be much more extreme, and dangerous.

  1. Persistent anxiety and paranoia
  2. Psychosis
  3. Hallucinations
  4. Severe depression
  5. Sexual dysfunction
  6. Gastrointestinal complications
  7. Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease
  8. Respiratory issues
  9. Neurological damage, such as impaired cognitive function
  10. Addiction
  11. Overdose
  12. Death

Dangers of Cocaine

Older man pausing a run to wipe forehead and drink waterThe dangers of cocaine use extend beyond just some of the health risks we touched on above. Cocaine addiction (as well as crack addiction) can leave lasting effects on the body due to its method of intake as well as its overall effect on the nervous system.

Cocaine can lead to a bevy of potentially life-threatening medical issues including heart attack and stroke, even in young and healthy individuals. Beyond just the increased risk of cardiovascular problems, cocaine use can also lead to malnourishment due to it being an appetite suppressant. Severe gastrointestinal issues that may result sometimes cannot be treated or reversed.

Common effects can include paranoia, anxiety, and hallucinations, cocaine use can either worsen or even trigger mental health conditions. For some, prolonged cocaine use can result in severe depression and even suicidal thoughts and actions.

One of the less discussed dangers associated with cocaine use is the purity of the cocaine being ingested. Often, in order to make a greater profit, those who make and sell cocaine will cut the cocaine with what is known as a cutting agent. By cutting the cocaine with another product or substance, they can make more money off a single batch of cocaine.

Some cutting agents are standard household products that have no real harmful effects such as baking soda, flour, or cornstarch. But in some instances, cocaine is cut with powerful stimulants or even opioids, most notably fentanyl.

Ingesting cocaine that has been cut with another harmful substance like fentanyl can greatly increase the risk of major medical complications, including overdose and death. The person thinks they are only ingesting cocaine when, in reality, they are ingesting a mixture of cocaine and another substance which can put an added strain on the body to process. There is also a severe risk of receiving a higher dose than intended, or of dosing oneself with a completely different product than what they believe they are buying.

Signs of Cocaine Addiction

Knowing the signs of cocaine addiction is crucial, especially when it comes to early intervention and treatment. The earlier that cocaine abuse or addiction is identified, the greater the chances that it can be effectively treated.

Common signs of cocaine addiction include:

  1. Frequent and uncontrollable cravings for cocaine
  2. Increasing tolerance, requiring more of the drug to achieve the same effect
  3. Financial problems due to spending large amounts of money on cocaine
  4. Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home
  5. Social withdrawal and isolation from family and friends
  6. Engaging in risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex or criminal activities, to obtain the drug
  7. Physical signs like rapid weight loss, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, or burns on the lips and fingers
  8. Psychological symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, and mood swings

Treatment Options For Cocaine Addiction

Young therapist taking notes of discussion between young man and young woman on distance couch

As is the case with all forms of addiction, cocaine addiction is treatable, especially if it is caught early. When it comes to treatment for cocaine addiction, there are a number of different treatment options available including:

Detoxification

To ensure best outcomes, the first step in the overall recovery process is to undergo a medically-assisted detox. Detox is done to rid the body of harmful and addictive substances, so that the body and brain can begin to heal.

Due to the nature of detoxing from cocaine, and the side effects and symptoms associated with detoxing, it is important that detoxing be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment center that also offers detox services such as Principles Recovery Center.

Attempting to self-detox from cocaine can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Cocaine is notorious for strong depressive symptoms in the initial stage of withdrawals, which can often lead many to relapse. Medical professionals can provide medicine to aid in overcoming symptoms, as well as respond immediately if any complications arise.

Treatment

Once detox has been completed, the next step is to enter into a treatment program. Depending on your needs and the advice of your treatment professional, you can enter either an inpatient, outpatient, or partial hospitalization program.

For those choosing inpatient treatment, you will be required to live at the treatment facility for the duration of your treatment program, attending therapy sessions and other aspects of your treatment program throughout the day. Inpatient treatment allows you to focus time and energy on your treatment without any outside distractions or obligations.

For those who are either unwilling or unable to go to inpatient treatment, or for those who don’t need intensive treatment, outpatient treatment is another option. With outpatient treatment, you go to the treatment facility during the day for various therapy sessions (and other services) and return home to your normal life and obligations. It is important that effective outpatient treatment requires that you have a sober and supportive house to return to each day.

If you are someone who doesn’t require the intensity or around-the-clock supervision of inpatient treatment but would also like to have access to more treatment and services than outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization might be best for you. With partial hospitalization, you still get to live at home while undergoing treatment but you also have access to certain services that those in inpatient have as well, such as medication-assisted treatment.

For those who can complete some recovery but have pressing responsibilities, intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) may be the ideal solution. An IOP allows for day or night options for people to participate in treatment. Flexibility is the main appeal, with every individual’s treatment plan formulated to best support their recovery.

Recover From Cocaine Addiction at Principles Recovery

At Principles Recovery, we understand the profound impact cocaine addiction can have on individuals and their families. Our comprehensive approach to treatment is designed to address the unique needs of each person, providing the best chance for a successful recovery.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or addiction of any kind, including cocaine or crack, contact us today.

Dr. Carlos Satulovsky

Dr. Carlos Satulovsky ( Medical Director )
Dr. Carlos Satulovsky is a board-certified psychiatrist and has over 30 years of experience in the medical field. He graduated from Facultad De Ciencias Medicas/Universidad Nacional. He is affiliated with medical facilities North Shore Medical Center.
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