Difference Between Crack and Cocaine

For a person in the midst of an addiction, what they are taking may not necessarily be as important to them as the desired outcome of intoxication is. This leads many to lose track of the differences between substances and the unique effects each has. We are taking a look at the differences between crack and cocaine (or coke), as well as the potential for life-altering damage each substance holds. 


What Is the Difference Between Cocaine and Crack?

These substances may look distinctive from one another, but the truth is they are almost identical pharmacologically. The key distinction between the two is how they are ingested. Crack can only be smoked through a pipe, while cocaine can be swallowed, snorted, injected, and even rubbed on the user’s gums. This flexibility often results in the latter being more expensive than the former. 


Additionally, crack is considered the more dangerous alternative for a number of reasons.

  1. Because it is smoked, the onset of effects is much faster, making it far more addictive.
  2. The law treats crack possession far more severely than cocaine possession.
  3. There is a greater stigma surrounding crack in society.


Of course, both substances present a high amount of risk when used in any capacity. The way each substance is manufactured also plays a role in how they differ from each other.


How Is Cocaine Made?

This substance is made from the leaves of the coca plant, a native of South America. Colombia is the main producer, though Bolivia, Chile, and Peru also play a large role. There are three common steps to how cocaine is made. First, the leaves are harvested and soaked. Next, the base for the powdered stimulant is extracted through a variety of methods. Finally, the subsequent crystallized substance is dried into large bricks, which are then distributed illegally around the world.


How Is Crack Made?

This substance is made by mixing pure cocaine with a variety of other substances and chemicals. This process is referred to as “cooking,” and the facilities it is made in have also been referred to as “kitchens.” A mixture containing cocaine, ammonia, baking soda, and water are boiled together. This extracts the hydrochloride present, resulting in a solid substance that is crushed up into small rocks. This is the smokable substance sold by drug dealers all around America. 


Effects of Crack vs. Cocaine Use

The feelings of these two drugs are very similar. Because they are stimulants, users will find smoking crack provides instant feelings of euphoria and alertness in addition to a decreased appetite. That does not mean, however, that coke is the same thing as crack. In reality, smoking crack brings on the effects far more quickly and intensely and dissipates even faster. Snorting coke brings about symptoms within 3 to 5 minutes and only lasts for about 15 to 30, whereas injecting it will take the longest time to bring about effects and makes them last the longest. 

Abusing either of these substances can have a disastrous effect on the user’s brain, heart, and overall organ function. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make the necessary changes.


Resources & Recovery at Better Addiction Care

Addiction to either of these substances can have devastating consequences. The question should not be if crack and cocaine are different, but rather what compels people to use them in the first place. Finding yourself in the midst of addiction can be scary, but Better Addiction Care offers a variety of rehabilitation programs, including options that specifically target cocaine dependency. Additionally, we offer inpatient detox that can be useful in preparing the patient’s body and mind for treatment to come by effectively managing any harmful withdrawal symptoms. 


Call 800-429-7690 to speak with a specialist at Better Addiction Care, and take the first steps of your recovery journey today!


Related Readings:

How Long Does Cocaine Stay In Urine?

Cocaine Overdose Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment


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  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). What is Crack Cocaine? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  3. American Addiction Centers. (n.d.). Crack Cocaine Addiction. Retrieved from https://americanaddictioncenters.org/crack-cocaine
  4. MedlinePlus. (2021). Cocaine. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/cocaine.html
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2019). Drug Use and the Brain. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/atod
  6. Mayo Clinic. (2021). Cocaine Use Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cocaine-use-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20371072
  7. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.). Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine. Retrieved from https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Cocaine-2020_0.pdf
  8. WebMD. (2021). Understanding Crack Cocaine. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/understanding-crack-cocaine
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