Freebasing Cocaine | Effects & Risks Of Freebase Cocaine

It is extremely dangerous to freebase cocaine. In addition to damage to several organs, including heart and lungs, smoking cocaine also poses a high risk of addiction and overdose.

Freebase cocaine is a potent form of smokeable cocaine associated with a powerful rush of euphoria and intense effects. Although it can result in a more intense high, it is extremely dangerous to freebase cocaine.

Freebase cocaine is highly flammable and can result in burns and other injuries. In addition to the damage to several organs, including the heart and lungs, smoking cocaine also poses a high risk of addiction and overdose.

What Does Freebasing Cocaine Mean?

Cocaine is a powerful and illicit stimulant drug extracted from the coca leaves of plants in South America. The drug is processed with chemicals to produce a powder, known as cocaine hydrochloride, that can be snorted or injected.

Cocaine base, also known as freebase, is a form of cocaine that can be smoked. Freebase cocaine is created by mixing ammonia and ether (a highly flammable substance) with the powder and heating it to “free the base.”

This form of cocaine was found to be extremely dangerous and resulted in explosions, burns, and other injuries.

Freebase Vs. Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine was eventually introduced as a smokable and similarly potent but less flammable form of cocaine. It is made by processing cocaine with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water. The mixture is heated and forms crystal rocks that can be smoked.

Effects Of Freebasing Cocaine

Freebasing cocaine shares many of the same effects as snorting or injecting the drug. However, smoking freebase cocaine may cause more rapid and intense effects, compared to other methods of administration.

Smoking cocaine causes it to enter your bloodstream quickly, usually less than a minute after use. The result is a warm and powerful rush of euphoria followed by increased energy, talkativeness, and alertness.

Short-term effects of cocaine use may also include:

  • sensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • dilated pupils
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased body temperature

Risks Of Freebasing Cocaine

Freebasing cocaine was common in the 1970s but was soon replaced by crack cocaine because of the risks associated with it. However, although crack cocaine may be less flammable than freebase, it is also highly addictive and dangerous.

Long-term effects of cocaine use may include:

Lung Damage

Smoking any drug increases the risk of experiencing adverse effects on lung health, including breathing problems. Long-term use of freebase cocaine can result in chronic cough, asthma, and permanent lung damage.

In addition, smoking cocaine frequently can increase your risk of pneumonia and other lung infections.

Cardiovascular Damage

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that constricts blood vessels and increases heart rate and blood pressure. Frequent drug use can also result in chest pain, stroke, heart attacks, seizures, and cardiac arrest.


Freebase cocaine, which is likely smoked in a glass pipe or on tin foil, increases the risk of several types of infections. Freebasing often results in burns, cuts, and sores on the mouth and lips. These open wounds can cause blood to sit on the pipe.

Sharing pipes with other people increases the risk of contact with contaminated blood and contracting infections like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and Hepatitis C.

Neurological Impairment

Cocaine abuse can have serious adverse effects on brain health, including cognition. People who use cocaine frequently may experience attention and memory impairment. In addition, some people have trouble with impulse control, making decisions, and motor control.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term cocaine abuse can even result in an increased risk of movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease.


The process of creating freebase cocaine is believed to remove impurities often associated with cocaine and other street drugs.

However, it is a potent form of cocaine that can cause a potentially life-threatening overdose. A cocaine overdose can result in seizures, cardiac arrest, or death.

If you think a loved one may be experiencing a cocaine overdose, seek medical help immediately.

Cocaine Addiction

Long-term cocaine use can change brain chemistry and may result in the development of a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as drug addiction. Cocaine addiction can cause intense cravings and frequent use of cocaine.

Addiction is a chronic and devastating disease that can impact the quality of life and cause difficulties at work, at home, and in relationships. Professional addiction treatment programs can help you learn to manage cravings and prevent relapse through evidence-based services.

If you or a loved one would like more information about cocaine addiction treatment options, please reach out to us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

©2023 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.