Call Us 24/7 (800) 851-1941

The Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

The Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

Difference Between Coke and Crack

Cocaine is obtained from the coca plant native to central and south America. Used in ancient times as a stimulant by chewing on the leaves, not unlike how chewing tobacco is used. In more recent times, people developed the skills to concentrate the active compounds in the coca leaf, resulting in a powder form, cocaine, which is usually whitish in color. Further developments allow the cocaine powder to be transformed into a crystal form, crack cocaine, that can be smoked.  The name crack cocaine is based on the crackling sound the drug makes when it is heated prior to beinginhaled through a crack pipe.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Brain

Both cocaine and crack have similar effects on the brain. The drug acts as a stimulant and acts upon the reward pathway and dopamine systems in the brain. This creates a high which is very addictive. The effects of using cocaine or crack cocaine include:

  • Excess energy or restlessness
  • A feeling of paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Psychotic episodes
  • Increase in stress hormones such as cortisol in the brain
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Damage to the cardiovascular system
  • Aggressiveness
  • Panic disorders

In general, the high created by cocaine and crack cocaine lasts only a matter of minutes, and the addict will start thinking about how and where to get more.

How is Cocaine Ingested?

Cocaine is usually snorted through the nose. The cocaine is shaped into a narrow line on a flat surface of some kind, such as a mirror or a piece of glass. Then, using a straw, the user snorts the cocaine into the nose. Cocaine can also be injected into a vein or swallowed through the mouth. When snorted, the drug begins to act on the brain in five minutes or less. Injected cocaine reaches the brain in 30 seconds or less.

Crack Ingredients

The primary ingredient in crack cocaine is, of course cocaine. The cocaine is mixed with water and ammonia or sodium bicarbonate, better known as baking soda.

How Was Crack Invented?

The origin of crack is a response to falling prices. In the early 1980’s, so much cocaine was being brought into the U.S. that prices dropped about 80%, seriously affecting the profits of the drug dealers. In response, the drug dealers discovered a way to transform cocaine into crack cocaine. Crack cocaine could be sold in much smaller quantities at a lower price, placing it within the reach of many more people. At the time, one gram of cocaine sold for about $100, but a dose of crack cocaine could be purchased for only a couple of dollars. Because of this, there is a popular notion that cocaine is used by the rich and powerful while crack cocaine is used by the lower classes and minorities. Since crack cocaine could be smoked, it produced an instant high and was therefore very addictive. The profits of the drug dealers began to soar again.

Turning Cocaine into Crack

The process of turning cocaine into crack cocaine is relatively easy and instructions are widely available, which has contributed to the problem of crack cocaine. There are only 11 steps in the process, and it could seem quite innocuous if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We provide these steps here so that you can learn how to recognize crack being made and either report it to the police or get the addicts the help they need.

  1. Gathering the ingredients and tools: cocaine powder, a cooking pan, a knife, a teaspoon, and a measuring cup.
  2. Pouring cocaine in the measuring cup.
  3. Adding sodium bicarbonate (baking powder).
  4. Adding water.
  5. Pouring the ingredients into the pan and applying heat.
  6. When the mixture starts bubbling, flattening the bubbles with the knife.
  7. Continuing to cook the mixture and flattening any bubbles that appear.
  8. When the mixture is solid white, removing it from heat.
  9. Putting the mixture onto a towel of some kind to drain.
  10. Putting the mixture into the freezer for about 20 minutes.
  11. Breaking it into pieces once it’s ready to use.

Unlike the process for making methamphetamine, no dangerous or explosive chemicals are involved.  However, it is important to know the process and recognize the paraphernalia involved in how crack is made so that you can know the signs that someone you love might be addicted to crack cocaine.

Effects of Smoking Crack

Because crack cocaine is smoked and then absorbed through the lungs, the user gets an almost immediate high that is very intense and addicting. The effects of smoking crack cocaine include:

  • Intense euphoria.
  • Increased alertness.
  • The pupils will be dilated.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Heart rate will be increased.
  • The user will feel very agitated.
  • The user will suffer from strong cravings.
  • The user will suffer from depression, anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts.
  • Nausea, pain in the muscles, and extreme fatigue will appear.

Cocaine vs Crack Cocaine

The difference between coke and crack revolve around the difference in how quickly they produce their effect and the price of purchasing the drugs. Crack cocaine is much cheaper than cocaine, making it more attractive to buyers and therefore more popular. The leaves of the coca plant have been used for thousands of years, but crack cocaine is a much more recent form of the drug. Snorting cocaine begins to create its effects inside of 15 minutes, but smoking crack cocaine affects the brain in a matter of seconds. The flip side of this is that the quicker effect of crack cocaine fades much more quickly than the effect of snorting cocaine. Another difference between coke and crack is that, in general, crack cocaine is purer and more addictive than cocaine. Its appearance is a further difference between coke and crack. Cocaine is usually a whitish powder, but crack cocaine is a whitish crystal. A national study conducted in 2008 discovered that 1.9 million people were using some form of cocaine, and 359,000 of those people were using crack cocaine.

Understanding The Difference Between Coke and Crack

In use for thousands of years, the leaves of the coca plant chewed and held in the mouth provided a mild stimulant and a pleasurable experience. More recently, processes were developed to concentrate the active ingredient of the coca leaf into cocaine which could be snorted or injected. Even more recently, a process was developed to transform the powdered cocaine into a crystal form, crack cocaine, that could be smoked. The process of turning cocaine into crack cocaine is neither difficult nor dangerous, since no explosive chemicals are involved, and crack cocaine can be sold much more cheaply than cocaine. Since the two drugs contain the same active ingredient, both produce similar effects. The primary difference between coke and crack is in the speed with which the drugs act on the brain, crack cocaine acting within seconds and cocaine acting within minutes, as well as the fact that crack cocaine is more addictive and dangerous than regular cocaine.


Additional References: Psychology TodayDrugAbuse.govWebMDHowStuffWorksOne Man’s Blog