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Illegal Drugs: Crack Cocaine


What is crack cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a powerful stimulant which is highly addictive and emerged as an abused drug in the mid-1980s. It obtained the name crack from the sound made during its manufacture. 

Crack is popular as an abused drug because it:

  • Produces an immediate high.
  • It is easy to produce the supply needed to meet the demand, making it readily available.
  • It is inexpensive to produce, making it affordable on the street.


How crack cocaine is manufactured?

Crack cocaine is derived from powdered cocaine using a simple conversion process.

  1. Crack is produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water and ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
  2. The mixture is boiled until a solid substance forms.
  3. The solid is removed from the liquid and dried, forming crack cocaine.
  4. It is then broken into chunks (rocks) that are sold on the street as crack cocaine.

    Photograph of crack cocaine.

What does crack look like?

Crack is typically available as rocks. Crack rocks are white or off-white and vary in size and shape.


How is crack smoked?

Crack is usually smoked. Smoking crack cocaine delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing an immediate and intense euphoric effect.

Crack is smoked in a variety of homemade pipes which usually consists of a narrow tube.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the newest method of easily smoking crack, without having to carry around cumbersome drug paraphernalia, is to use a "smokeless cigarette" called Premier, manufactured by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. which is a paper covered tube that can be emptied and repacked with crack cocaine.

A "Love Rose" is most commonly used to smoke crack cocaine.  A Love Rose consists of a glass tube with a paper rose inside of it and is intended to be used as a romantic gift.  These are sometimes called "stems", "horns", "blasters" and "straight shooters".

A small piece of clean heavy copper or stainless steel scouring pad, without soap, serves as a reduction base and flow modulator in which the crack cocaine "rock" can be melted and boiled to vapor. Although the metal scouring pad used for smoking crack does not have soap, they are often called a brillo or chore, named after Brillo brand pads or Chore Boy brand copper scouring pads. 

Instead of a crack pipe, smokers sometimes smoke through a soda can with small holes in the bottom. The bottom of small glass liquor bottles can be removed, and the bottle neck can then be stuffed with chore to use as a makeshift crack pipe.

Crack is smoked by placing it at the end of the pipe; a flame held close to it produces vapor, which is then inhaled by the smoker. The effects, felt almost immediately after smoking, are very intense and usually lasts only 5 to 15 minutes. In a study performed on crack cocaine users, the average time taken for them to reach their peak subjective "high" was only 1.4 minutes. 

Cravings to smoke more crack immediately after the peak high intensify with frequent use.  Crack houses provide a place for people to purchase crack cocaine and spoke repeatedly.

When smoked, cocaine is sometimes combined with other drugs, such as marijuana, often rolled into a joint or blunt (cigar sized joint).


Who uses crack?

Individuals of all ages use crack cocaine.  Data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse estimated that the following number of US residents used crack at least once in their lifetime:

  • 6,222,000 people aged 12 and older
  • 150,000 people aged 12 to 17
  • 1,003,000 people aged 18 to 25

Estimated use of crack cocaine by high school students according to the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future Survey:

  • Almost 4% of high school seniors
  • More than 1% of high school seniors used the drug in the past month.


What are the risks of crack?

Cocaine, in any form, is a powerfully addictive drug, and addiction seems to develop more quickly when the drug is smoked as crack, than snorted as powdered cocaine typically is.

In addition to the usual risks associated with cocaine use (constricted blood vessels; increased temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure; and risk of cardiac arrest and seizure), crack users may experience acute respiratory problems, including coughing, shortness of breath, and lung trauma and bleeding. Crack cocaine smoking also can cause aggressive and paranoid behavior.


Street names for Crack Cocaine

Crunch & munch
Devil drug
Electric kool-aid
Fat bags
French fries
Hard ball
Hard rock
Ice cube
Jelly beans
Prime time
Snow coke


Is crack cocaine illegal?

Yes, crack cocaine is illegal. Crack cocaine is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule II drugs, which include PCP and methamphetamine, have a high potential for abuse. Abuse of these drugs may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Crimes involving crack cocaine:

  • Possession of crack cocaine

  • Selling crack cocaine
  • Distribution of crack cocaine
  • Trafficking or transportation of crack cocaine
  • Conspiracy to traffic in crack cocaine
  • Manufacturing crack cocaine

If you are arrested for any of the above crimes involving crack cocaine or other illegal drugs, call a drug lawyer at 1888DRUGCRIMES.com.

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