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What Is Crack Cocaine? Differences, Effects & Statistics

Crack cocaine is a solid form of the drug cocaine that is produced by dissolving cocaine in water and then boiling it down to create a hard, rock-like substance. Crack cocaine is often smoked using a glass pipe. Crack cocaine came to prevalence in the 1980s in non-affluent overpopulated neighborhoods. Use became so widespread in these neighborhoods that it was referred to as an epidemic.

Crack cocaine is different from other forms of cocaine because it is in solid form and can be smoked. When it is smoked, the drug reaches the brain very quickly and causes an intense high. Crack cocaine is also more addictive than powder cocaine because of how strong and immediate the high is from such a small amount.

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Crack Vs. Powder Cocaine

Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. It is a stimulant drug that is used recreationally. Cocaine can be snorted, injected, or smoked.

Crack cocaine is a Schedule II substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Crack is usually sold as a liquid in small “rocks” or in vials. Powdered cocaine is cocaine that has not been processed into the crack. It is a white powder that can be snorted, injected, or smoked. Crack and powder cocaine are similar in many ways.

They are both highly addictive and can have serious health effects, including heart attack, stroke, and seizure. However, there are some super essential differences between the two drugs. Crack is typically cheaper than powder cocaine, producing a more intense high. Crack is also more likely to be associated with crime and violence due to its lower cost and higher availability.

In addition, crack is more likely to lead to dependence and addiction than powder cocaine. Finally, crack users are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the drug. Withdrawal from crack can include depression, anxiety, irritability, and fatigue.

Process Of Making Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is the process of turning powder cocaine into a rock-like substance that can be smoked. Crack is contextually similar to cocaine since it is still a stimulant but the transformative process of cooking crack makes it into a new substance which also carries more severe sentencing guidelines in the penal system.

The steps for cooking crack cocaine and processing it into crack are as follows:

  1. Mix the powder cocaine into the water until it fully dissolves.
  2. Add baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to the mixture.
  3. Boil the dissolved powder cocaine and baking soda mixture until the solids are separated out
  4. Let the solid rock forms cool down and then cut them up.

Once the new substance is broken up into small pieces, or “rocks”, which is what many people recognize as crack cocaine.

How is Crack Used?

Crack cocaine is often smoked using a glass pipe. It can also be placed on tin foil. The user will light the bottom of the tin foil and inhale the smoke that comes from the crack burning through a straw, or pen. Smoking crack is different than freebasing cocaine.


Physical Side Effects of Crack Cocaine Use

There are many significant effects of crack cocaine, some of them are listed below:

  • Organ Damage
  • Heart Problems – Blood Pressure
  • Brain Damage and Psychological Issues

Psychiatric Effects Of using Crack Cocaine Use

  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Mood changes
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

Slang Names And Synonyms For Crack Cocaine

Different Names For Crack: When it comes to drug culture, a wide variety of terms are used to describe various drugs. In the case of crack, many different names have been used to describe this particular drug. Some of the most common terms include:

    • Candy
    • Toot
    • Dice
    • Nuggets or gravel
    • Scrabble
    • Chalk
    • Boulder
    • Flake
    • Big C
    • rock
    • Black Rock
    • Gravel
    • Ice Cubes
    • RIP
    • White Tornado
    • Butter

Incarceration Rates & Statistics For Crack Cocaine

Higher Incarceration Rates For Crack, Most crack cocaine trafficking offenders were sentenced to imprisonment (98.0%). The average and general sentence length for crack cocaine traffickers were 96 months. Various factors contribute to this result, including that crack is often sold in lower-income urban areas where drug enforcement is typically more strict.

The ACLU did a study that examined over 20 years of federal crack cocaine sentencing.

The distribution of just 5 grams of crack carries a minimum 5-year federal prisonsentence, while distribution of 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same 5-year mandatory minimum sentence.

In cocaine addiction, crack is more potent than powder cocaine and is more likely to be associated with violent crime. As a result, offenders caught selling or distributing crack typically face harsher penalties than those caught with other drugs. Focusing on illicit drug use or different illicit drug use, the report contains a comprehensive set and is as follows.

A 2020 study by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) reported that 90.9% of crack cocaine trafficking crimes were perpetrated by men.

Out of all trafficking offenders, 77.1% were reported as Black, with 15.9% as Hispanic and 6.3% were Caucasian.

International Rates of Incarceration For Crack Cocaine per 100,000

International Incarceration rates for crack cocaine

Who Uses Crack Cocaine?

People all over the world from different economic backgrounds, ages, and races use crack cocaine.

Statistics of use differ from densely populated areas to rural areas where methamphetamine has become more popular because of how easy it is to manufacture. National crack cocaine use rates topple 1.9% of the current population.

Cocaine Statistics In The United States

Statistics On Child Use Of Crack Cocaine

According to a Monitoring the Future study, the rates of cocaine drug addiction in minors and overall crack cocaine use have been declining in minors since 2005.

Among 8th-grade children, rates of first-time crack cocaine use have declined from 1.4% to 0.2%, and from 1.7% to 0.5% in 10th graders.

Age demographics in the 12th-grade range have also seen a decline in crack cocaine use from 1.9% to 1.2%.

Cocaine Statistics

Teen Use Of Crack (Statistics)

Crack cocaine use statistics amongst teens increased from 4.51% to 4.98%, an inverted increase when compared to the declining rates of crack use in other age demographics.

Roughly 4% of high school seniors have admitted to the use of cocaine at least once in their last time, beginning in grade school.

crack cocaine statistics among teenagers

Adult Use Of Crack Cocaine (Statistics)

The rate of crack cocaine use in teenagers and children has declined, but adult crack cocaine use has increased by 3.1% in people over the age of 18 according to 2016 census data. Other data shows another increase during the covid-19 pandemic.

Is Crack Cocaine Chemically Different From Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is  funamentally similar to cocaine since they are derived from the same plant (coca plant) and have almost the same chemical properties. The two substances are basically chemically identical except that crack cocaine has the hydrochloride salt removed; hydrochloride salt has no psychoactive effects.

Because the hydrochloride salt is removed from crack it is slightly more concentraded and potent than powdered cocaine. Both cocaine and crack cocaine are derived from the coca plant, containing the same active ingredient: cocaine hydrochloride.

However, there are some essential differences between the two drugs. First, crack cocaine is usually smoked, (Smoking crack cocaine delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs, producing an immediate and intense euphoric effect) while cocaine is snorted.

Second, crack cocaine is produced by mixing cocaine with water and baking soda, which creates a solid form that can be broken into rocks or “cracks.” Third, the effects of crack cocaine are shorter-lived than those of cocaine but are also more intense. Finally, crack cocaine is cheaper and more accessible than cocaine, which makes it more popular among users.

While there are some significant differences between these two drugs, they are ultimately both derived from the coca plant and contain the same active ingredient.

Treatment For Crack Cocaine

The risks associated with crack cocaine include addiction, organ damage, and heart problems. Recovery is possible for crack cocaine users, and there is still light available. If you’re struggling with crack cocaine then we can help you to treat your addiction.  Contact us today; hope is right around the corner.

FAQs: Crack

How is Crack Withdrawal Different From Cocaine Withdrawal?

The effects of crack cocaine are shorter-lived but more intense than powder cocaine and it also wears off more quickly which causes users to crave higher doses and more frequent use. Crack users are also at a higher risk of developing addiction and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

What Are The Risks Associated With Crack Cocaine?

The effects of crack cocaine are shorter-lived but more intense than powder cocaine and it also wears off more quickly which causes users to crave higher doses and more frequent use. Crack users are also at a higher risk of developing addiction and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

How Addictive is Crack Cocaine?

The effects of crack cocaine are shorter-lived but more intense than powder cocaine and it also wears off more quickly which causes users to crave higher doses and more frequent use. Crack users are also at a higher risk of developing addiction and experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

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Fryer, Roland G., Heaton, Paul. S., Levitt, Steven D., & Murphy, Kevin. M. (2013). Measuring crack cocaine and its impact. Economic Inquiry, 51(3), 1651–1681.

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, P. D. and A. N. (2022, October 18). Research – get the facts. The Sentencing Project. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from,explain%20most%20of%20this%20increase.

WebMD. (2022). 3 long-term health effects of crack cocaine. WebMD. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from


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Magnified Health Systems aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.

Picture of This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

This content is verified and moderated by Dr. Brendan Bickley

Dr. Bickley graduated from U.C. Irvine with honors: Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honor Society, Cum Laude. He has been featured on national radio and print media. He is also a frequent lecturer at National Conferences. He holds an A.S. degree in Drug & Alcohol Studies, and two B.A. degrees in Criminology & Psychology, and masters and doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology. He is a licensed California Drug & Alcohol Counselor Level II, a licensed Clinical Supervisor and is certified in treating Eating Disorders.

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