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Freebasing, Effects, Risks of Overdose, and Cocaine AddictionTreatment

What Is Freebasing?

Freebasing is the process of inhaling the smoke from a refined and solid form of a drug (the freebase) after it is heated. Freebasing receives its name because it requires freeing the substance of most of the additives so that only the base is left. While it is possible to get the freebase of other drugs, freebasing cocaine is the most common. 

Freebase cocaine has a higher level of lipid solubility, and because of this, it enters the bloodstream and brain much faster than other forms of the drug. As a result, the high is faster than snorting cocaine, and it’s similar or sometimes faster than injecting it. Most individuals also feel that the high from freebase cocaine is more intense.

All forms of cocaine are highly addictive. This addiction can erode physical and mental health and can become so strong that these drugs dominate all aspects of the user’s life.

The method by which freebase cocaine is created includes extracting certain alkaloids from it. This creates one of the purest forms of cocaine available. As a result, it is not only powerful but incredibly addictive. Cocaine addiction happens when a person experiences clinically significant impairment, including cocaine side effects caused by the chronic use of the drug, health problems, physical withdrawal, and failure to meet major responsibilities at school, work, or home. Other names for it include Coke, 8 balls of coke, rock, crack, and blow.

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Smoking Crack vs Freebasing 

Smoking crack and freebasing cocaine are similar. Powder cocaine cannot be heated and smoked in its standard form, so users will need to get the freebase form of cocaine using ammonia. This process can be dangerous because manufacturers are dealing with flammable chemicals and ingredients—several explosions from trying to make freebase cocaine have happened. After the freebase cocaine is made, many users will use a small glass pipe and a heat source to inhale the gases that are released when the powder is heated. 

Crack cocaine is a “safer” alternative to freebase crack in terms of production only. Crack is the crystalline solid form of cocaine that has grown in popularity in the last few decades. The name crack cocaine came from the crackling sound the rock makes when it’s being heated.

It is created using baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and water instead of ammonia to remove hydrochloride from cocaine. Like the freebase cocaine, it is then heated and smoked. The potency of cocaine, a lot of times users receives a form of the drug that they think is pure cocaine but is in fact combined with other dangerous substances, such as fentanyl or synthetic opioids.

Freebasing Effects

The freebase cocaine effects are quick, and they don’t last long. The intense rush of energy bursts, and euphoria tends to disappear after about 30 minutes, and an equally intense crash happens as the person starts to ‘come down.

As the effects of the freebase cocaine decrease, a person may experience fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, or even paranoia. To avoid these effects, a person may create a dangerous cycle of continued use. This can be a pathway toward addiction.

The short-term effects of freebasing include nausea, insomnia, decreased sexual function, pinprick pupils, headaches, and excess sweating. Long-term freebase cocaine abuse can lead to restlessness, mood changes, hallucinations, depression, paranoia, and anxiety [1].

There are significant health risks when someone is smoking or inhaling any toxin or chemical. They are more likely to develop respiratory problems, cancer, damage to the mouth, throat, and lungs.

Over time, nearly all organ systems in the body can be damaged by cocaine abuse. For example, the heart can stop working properly or completely shut down. The brain is more susceptible to stroke and seizures, and a person can develop asthma or other breathing issues.

These health risks are in addition to the harm a person can do to their body when making or using freebase cocaine. For example, there is an increased possibility a person could burn their hands, arms, or face when freebasing, and dangerous explosions can happen while making freebase.

Thousands of individuals also die from cocaine overdoses each year. A cocaine overdose can include complications such as stroke, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, or sudden death. The risk of overdose is even higher when somebody combines cocaine with other drugs. There is also a higher risk of overdosing when someone uses freebase cocaine since it is so pure and potent [2].

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Risks Of Overdose from Freebasing Cocaine

When somebody overdoses from freebasing cocaine, the outcome is often dangerous. A nearly pure form of this drug can be significantly more deadly. This is because many types of the drug are mixed with something, making the substance less potent. Freebase cocaine is both pure and smoked, which enables the user to feel the effects quicker. Feeling the results faster with such an intense onset increases the user’s risk of overdosing.

Addicted users who stop using cocaine will undergo an initial crash, known as withdrawal. Withdrawal can be intense and difficult due to cravings and uncomfortable side effects.

In cases when an individual is addicted and begins increasing doses or dosage rate, this is especially true. It could be easy to take too much of the drug accidentally. Also, people who typically take crack cocaine or the powdered form may not understand how potent freebase cocaine is. When switching to smoking freebase, the user may take way too much the first time because they’re not aware of how significant the impacts are. 

Overdose is a medical emergency which means it must be treated that way. For example, symptoms of cocaine overdose consist of convulsions, hyperventilation, increased heart rate, and coma. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) [3], the health consequences of cocaine abuse and overdose include irregular heart rhythm, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes.

Risks Associated With Different Freebasing Methods

Powdered cocaine is ordinarily snorted. It is associated with many health consequences, such as a runny nose, losing your sense of smell, and inflammation of the nostrils.

The use of cocaine is associated with interruptions in appetite, so the user may lose weight or fail to get enough nutrition.

Freebase cocaine is used differently, and its health risks differ depending on the method of use.

Freebasing Cocaine (Smoking)

This enables the high to be more powerful and can enhance the likelihood of addiction.

Somebody who smokes freebase cocaine is two to three times more likely to depend on it compared to somebody who uses powdered cocaine.

Users generally smoke freebase cocaine on a pipe, and individuals around them may also suffer from inhaling secondhand smoke.

People may develop lung problems, such as pneumonia from the buildup of water in the lungs, and die of pulmonary issues.

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Freebasing Cocaine (Ingesting)

Some individuals choose to swallow cocaine. This usually occurs when individuals use powdered cocaine, but it can happen with crack. Swallowing causes blood flow to decrease. This makes the person susceptible to gangrene (Gangrene is a serious condition where a loss of blood supply causes body tissue to die)  in the bowel area.

Freebasing Cocaine (Injecting)

Freebasing cocaine in all forms is dangerous, but injecting it is probably the most dangerous practice. Injecting cocaine, either powdered or freebase, can cause allergic reactions to ingredients that have been added to the drug. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening if not treated.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) [4] also mention other risks associated with injecting drugs, such as:

Risk of HIV infection. If you are HIV-negative, you are at a much higher risk of contracting the virus if you share needles with someone who is HIV-positive. Needles could trap blood and other bodily fluids that vastly increase your odds of exposure.

Other diseases. It is easy to contract diseases such as hepatitis A or B if you share needles with other users.

Treating Freebase Cocaine Addiction

Addiction to cocaine on its own is a very hard habit to break. If someone is freebasing, it can be all the more complicated. When a person is constantly injecting the purest form of any drug, it will take a lot more than just going to rehab to quit.

There isn’t much a person can do to stop freebasing drugs unless the user completely changes their life. When a person is in it, all that matters is the drug. The user only connects with people who are in the same boat as they are.

It’s a lifestyle and feels like a full-time job. The person suffering from cocaine addiction will do whatever they need to do to get that high and ensure they don’t run out. A lot of cocaine addicts turn to burglary and other petty crimes to support their habits.

Individuals addicted to all forms of cocaine, including freebase, should seek cocaine detox. Drug abuse treatment centers can help individuals manage painful withdrawal symptoms. They employ evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and teach people to live without freebase cocaine.

Even after completing treatment, people recovering from cocaine addiction may face triggers that increase their risk of relapse. For example, they may return to environments that induce cravings, including neighborhoods rife with freebase or crack cocaine. Relapse is common among people who were once addicted to drugs such as freebase cocaine.

To avoid relapse after treatment, people in recovery should continue attending support groups or 12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous. They could also call a cocaine hotline to speak with an addiction expert about dealing with cravings [5].

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Cocaine is not safe in general, and both its powdered and freebase forms come with risks. And freebasing cocaine has many health consequences. If you or your loved one is struggling with freebase cocaine addiction, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional cocaine addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. To learn more, contact us today at We Level Up NJ Treatment Facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We provide an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life

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[1] SAMHSA –

[2] NCBI –

[3] NIDA –

[4] CDC –

[5] We Level UpCocaine Addiction