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Crack vs. Cocaine: The Differences Explained

Jul 11, 2022 | Drug Addiction

You may have heard of the two drugs crack and cocaine. At times, you may have even heard the phrase “crack-cocaine” used. This brings up many questions. Is crack the same as cocaine? What are the differences between crack vs. cocaine? What does crack-cocaine look like? And, am I addicted to crack or cocaine?

Cocaine and the related drug called crack are widely used in the United States. In 2019, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that an estimated 5.5 million people aged 12 or older were past users of cocaine, including about 778,000 users of crack. These numbers are highly concerning considering the damaging effects of both of these drugs.

In this blog, we will explore the differences between cocaine and crack, as well as their side effects and withdrawal symptoms. We will also touch on addiction treatment options for those struggling with abuse of either of these drugs. If you are wondering what is the difference between crack vs cocaine, keep reading.

What is Cocaine?

First, cocaine is a drug that comes from the leaves of the coca plant. This plant is found in South America and is used to create a white, crystalline powder. The powder is most commonly snorted, but it can also be injected or rubbed on mucous membranes.

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant. When a person snorts, smokes, or injects cocaine, they experience intense energy, confidence, and feelings of euphoria for a short period of time. The effects of cocaine generally last anywhere from a few minutes to under an hour. This causes users of the drug to take it continually in order to keep feeling the effects of cocaine.

One major concern with cocaine is the frequency at which it is mixed with other drugs. When buying cocaine, it may be cut with other drugs such as methamphetamines, opioids, or fentanyl. This increases the risk of overdose as well as other harmful side effects.

What is Crack?

Crack is a cheaper, more potent form of cocaine. It is made by cooking powdered cocaine, baking soda, and water, which separates into a solid and a liquid. The solid crack then hardens into rocks that are usually white, cream, or tan in color. These rocks are then smoked through a pipe.

The Risks and Side Effects of Crack vs. Cocaine

The effects of these drugs are often very similar. However, the uncertainty of how much cocaine is in the crack can affect how a person is impacted by crack use. If the cocaine used to make crack is cut with other drugs, that can also change how the drug affects a person.

Overall, the effects of crack and cocaine include the following:

  • Euphoria
  • Heightened alertness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Intense cravings
  • Numbness of the mouth, nose, or site of injection
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Headaches
  • Mood disorders
  • Risk of Hepatitis and HIV (if injected)
  • Runny nose, nosebleeds, and nasal problems (if snorted)
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils

There is no difference in how crack vs. cocaine affects the human brain. When these substances are used, dopamine is released into the brain’s pleasure center. This creates feelings of happiness, euphoria, and increased energy.

These pleasurable feelings cause a person’s brain to adapt to it and develop a tolerance which leads to more of the drug being needed to achieve the same feeling. A crack and cocaine addiction can develop quickly due to this.

People Using Crack and Cocaine

Why Do People Use Crack and Cocaine?

There are many reasons why a person may use crack or cocaine. In some cases, an individual became addicted to cocaine and began to use crack because it is cheaper. In other instances, people use crack or cocaine to cope with a traumatic event. Some people use crack or cocaine because they enjoy the euphoric feeling it provides.

Cocaine abuse can also result from using cocaine as a party drug. When cocaine is used in social situations, it can create feelings of euphoria and confidence.

The user may feel like they are the life of the party and that they can drink or use other drugs without consequence. This can lead to addiction and continued cocaine abuse.

No matter the reason behind why someone uses crack vs. cocaine, or vice versa, it is important to get help if you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction.

The Difference Between Cocaine and Crack

While both drugs are chemically similar, there are many differences between crack and cocaine. These differences have to do with their effects, price point, and other factors. The factors that differentiate crack from cocaine include the following:

The appearance of the drugs

As previously mentioned, crack and cocaine look very different. Crack is sold in the form of rocks, while cocaine is a white powder.

How the drugs are taken

One difference between crack and cocaine is that crack is smoked, while cocaine is snorted or injected.

The onset of effects

The effects of cocaine usually take effect after around 3 to 5 minutes. Smoking crack allows the drug to reach the brain more quickly, which means that its effects are felt more quickly. This also increases the risk of overdose as well as other harmful side effects.

The duration of effects

The effects of crack are shorter-lived than the effects of cocaine. This causes individuals to enter into cycles of binging and crashing. While the effects of both drugs are similar

The risk of dependence

When it comes to forming a dependence, crack is more habit-forming. This is due to its shorter duration of effects, which leads people to use it more frequently in order to maintain the high.

The withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms from crack are similar to those experienced when quitting cocaine. However, they tend to be more intense and last for a longer period of time. This is due to the fact that crack is more habit-forming.

Cravings for crack can be intense, and they can last for months or even years after someone has quit using the drug. The intensity of these cravings is one of the main reasons why relapses are so common among people who are trying to quit crack.

The price of the drugs

Cocaine is more expensive than crack, which is one of the reasons why crack is more commonly used. Cocaine is often referred to as a rich person’s drug due to how expensive it can be.

Crack, on the other hand, is also more readily available than cocaine, which makes it easier to obtain. This affects the price as well, with crack being more affordable than cocaine.

Cocaine and Crack Withdrawal

When an individual abuses a drug for a prolonged period of time, stopping is not easy. As the body develops physical dependence, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to quit. When it comes to crack vs. cocaine, both drugs cause uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Intense cravings
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Vomiting
  • Poor cognitive function
  • Apathy

Crack withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of cocaine. Crack withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nightmares and insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Intense cravings

The withdrawal symptoms of both crack and cocaine begin shortly after the last use. The symptoms can last for weeks or even months. The most severe symptoms typically peak within the first week and then begin to improve.

Treatment for Crack and Cocaine Addiction

Treatment for Crack vs. Cocaine Addiction

Both crack and cocaine addiction require professional treatment. Treatment often includes detoxification, behavioral therapy, and support groups. Often, people will also need medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Quitting the use of a drug during addiction is highly challenging for many individuals. The same is true of crack vs. cocaine. Without a structured approach to ceasing the use of substances and professional guidance, it can be difficult to achieve sobriety. Treatment options can include the following programs:

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs for crack and cocaine addiction typically involve attending group and individual therapy sessions several times a week. Treatment is less intense than inpatient care, allowing you to live at home and continue going to work or school while getting help for your addiction.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Outpatient treatment is offered in levels of care, with IOPs in the middle. These programs are more intensive than traditional outpatient care, requiring more time spent at a treatment center receiving treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

Partial hospitalization programs are the most intensive type of outpatient care. They provide many of the same services as inpatient treatment, but you don’t stay overnight. This level of care is typically recommended if you have a severe addiction to cocaine or crack and need more support than an IOP can provide, but you’re not quite ready for inpatient treatment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you have a mental health disorder in addition to your addiction, you may need treatment for both conditions. This is called dual diagnosis treatment. Many people who struggle with crack or cocaine addiction also suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. Treating both conditions at the same time can help you recover more effectively.

Recovering from Cocaine and Crack Addiction with Casco Bay

While crack and cocaine may seem similar, there are important differences between the two drugs. It is important to be aware of these differences if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction. With the help of professionals, it is possible to overcome addiction and achieve sobriety.

At Casco Bay, we offer comprehensive addiction treatment that addresses both crack and cocaine addictions, as well as any underlying mental health disorders. Our goal is to help you recover fully so that you can lead a happy and healthy life.

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