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How to Identify Crack Cocaine


Crack cocaine is an unclean, but very potent, form of cocaine. The drug is made through a complex process involving baking soda, which results in crystalline “rocks.” These are smoked, unlike powdered cocaine, which is commonly snorted. The high resulting from crack cocaine groups in faster than with powdered cocaine, but it also goes away within 15 minutes. Because of this prompt onset and dispersal, people who abuse crack cocaine are more possible to struggle with dependence on the drug. Although numerous people know the words crack cocaine and crack, they may not know how to determine the drug.

The process of turning cocaine into crack cocaine produces crystals, called “rocks.” These range in color from clear-white or opaque white to off-white or yellow. They vary in size and shape.

Changes in color may be related to adulterants, including caffeine, sugar, lactose, or other drugs like levamisole, which have been added to the rocks. Sometimes, additives are used to increase the potency of the drug or mimic its effects. In other cases, they are mixed with the drug just to bulk up the weight or appearance, so the dealer can sell them at a higher price to people who think they are getting more crack.

Adulterants like caffeine, sugar, lactose, or other medications like levamisole that have been added to the rocks may be the cause of color changes. A drug’s strength may occasionally be increased or its effects may occasionally be mimicked using additions. In other instances, they are included with the drug just to add weight or bulk out the appearance, allowing the dealer to sell them at a higher price to customers who mistakenly believe they are receiving more crack.

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Crack pipes typically resemble tiny glass “chillum” pipes. Crack pipes and other cocaine paraphernalia can be purchased in some stores since they are not strictly illegal. Crack pipes could also be manufactured at home. People who use crack may construct a crack pipe from certain common items. If you are worried that a loved one is abusing this drug, it’s critical to know what to look for.

Crack pipes usually have a tube-like shape and include a glass stem and a mouthpiece. They are often blackened and burnt-looking on one end if they have been used.

The mouthpiece of a cracked pipe can sometimes be removed and kept by each person to avoid sharing pipes.

Crack pipes usually include some sort of filter in between the mouthpiece and the “bowl” of the pipe, where the crack cocaine goes. Filters prevent pieces of molten-hot crack cocaine from dislodging and burning the person’s mouth or throat.

Anecdotally, many claim that the substance smells like burnt rubber or plastic when it is burning. Crack pipes won’t smell like anything if they have not been used. Once they are used, they will have a burnt, smoky smell. They might smell slightly sweet. Although it is distinctive, people who are unfamiliar with most intoxicating drugs do not know the difference between the smell of crack cocaine and the smell of a meth lab. Either can be dangerous, so it is important to report suspected labs and chemical-like smells to 911 immediately.

Pure cocaine will have a sweet, floral smell. However, due to the complex cocaine extraction process as well as the cutting agents found in cocaine that is sold on the streets, it usually has an underlying chemical or metallic smell to it. Some chemicals that are often used to manufacture cocaine have distinct smells that can help people identify the substance.

  • Gasoline
  • Kerosene
  • Diesel
  • Carbonate salt
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Ammonia
  • Potassium permanganate
  • Caustic soda

What cocaine smells like may also vary depending on the method of administration a person uses. Someone who snorts cocaine will probably notice a chemical or metallic smell, but someone who smokes the drug may smell burnt plastic or rubber.

Crack Cocaine Drug Facts

Crack and Crime

The 2006 US National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that 8.6 million Americans aged 12 and older reported having used crack. Among those 18 to 25, 6.9% of those surveyed said they had used cocaine (including crack) within the last year. The 2007 US Government’s Monitoring the Future survey found that among high-school students, 3.2% of twelfth graders had used crack cocaine at some point in their lives.

In the United States, crack cocaine was the primary drug of abuse in 178,475 admissions to treatment in 2006. This represented 71% of all primary cocaine admissions to treatment that year.

“It’s a totally selfish drug, this crack. It takes over your life. Crack grabs hold quickly. It doesn’t take long at all. The cravings it produces are massive. And you end up using it more frequently because the high is short-lasting.” —Peter


Crack Cocaine: Key Facts

  • Smoking crack produces almost immediate effects.
  • Crack cocaine’s effects typically last between 5 and 15 minutes.
  • Crack cocaine produces powerful effects that, in some cases, can result in sudden death.

Crack Addiction: 8 Signs Your Loved One Is Using

1. The presence of the drug. Would you recognize a crack if you saw it in your loved one’s home? It’s a type of cocaine that comes in the form of small, rock-like crystals that are various shades of white, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

2. Crack paraphernalia. Users smoke this drug, often from a narrow glass or metal pipe that may have a round bulb at the end, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Some create makeshift pipes with household items. A 2020 study in the International Journal of Drug Policy says these items can include:

  • Soft drink cans 
  • Glass bottles 
  • Plastic water bottles 
  • Lightbulbs 
  • Empty asthma inhalers 

You may notice black burn marks on any object that has been used to smoke crack.

Crack Cocaine is potent and can cause addiction after only 1 hit. Though the effects of Crack are intense
What Does Crack Look Like? Crack Cocaine is potent and can cause addiction after only 1 hit. Though the effects of Crack are intense

5. Appetite changes. Your loved one may devour food incredibly fast, or they may completely lose their appetite. If they’re not eating, you may notice that they’re quickly losing weight.

6. Overdose. This is a medical emergency. Symptoms can include:

  • Enlarged pupils
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)

If your loved appears to be having any of these symptoms, call 911 right away. They could be having a heart attack, stroke, or another life-threatening problem.

3. Extreme bursts of energy. Crack is a type of drug called a stimulant, which means someone who’s high on it could have bursts of energy that are much more excessive than normal. Your loved one might: 

  • Talk rapidly
  • Act erratic or aggressively
  • Seem anxious or on edge

The high from smoking crack can last about 5-10 minutes, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says. But it can be more intense than the high from snorting powder cocaine.

4. Fatigue or changed sleep habits. When the effects of the crack wear off, the extreme energy gives way to exhaustion. According to American Addiction Centers, your loved one may seem extremely tired and sluggish, and they could even sleep for days. 

Substance use disorders involving cocaine can grow into dangerous addictions
What Does Crack Look Like? Substance use disorders involving cocaine can grow into dangerous addictions

7. Oral health problems. “One of the most obvious signs someone is suffering from a crack cocaine addiction is a rapid decline of oral health,” William L Balanoff, DDS, a clinical dentist, and prosthodontist, tells WebMD Connect to Care. Balanoff says crack use can cause: 

  • Bleeding in the mouth 
  • Gum recession
  • Rapid tooth decay

8. Withdrawal symptoms. Someone who’s addicted to crack can have uncomfortable or dangerous symptoms when they stop taking it. These symptoms can include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea and fever
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

Since the look, smell, and taste of cocaine can vary greatly, it can be helpful to be able to identify cocaine use by the paraphernalia that a person has. First, cocaine is usually sold in small plastic bags that can be found online or at specialty stores. These resealable bags look similar to your standard sandwich bag, but they are much smaller. Sometimes, the bags even have designs or pictures on them. Someone who has several of these baggies in their room or in their belongings may be using cocaine.

Other types of cocaine-related paraphernalia may vary depending on how a person is using the drug. Someone who snorts cocaine may have a razor blade, cut-off straws, and a small mirror or flat surface with powdered residue on it. Someone who smokes cocaine may have aluminum foil, a lighter, a straw, or a small metal pipe with a hole at the top. Lastly, someone who injects cocaine may have tourniquets, spoons with bent handles, syringes, and lighters.

Crack Cocaine User Statistics

In US Federal courts in 2007, 5,477 individuals were found guilty of crack cocaine-related crimes. More than 95% of these offenders had been involved in crack cocaine trafficking.


5,477

In US Federal courts in 2007, 5,477 individuals were found guilty of crack cocaine-related crimes.

Source: NIDA

95 %

More than 95% of these offenders had been involved in crack cocaine trafficking.

Source: NIDA


Like alcoholics and marijuana users, crack addicts are subject to widely-held stereotypes that are largely inaccurate.

The Dave Chappelle Show represented this crack stereotype perfectly. Chappelle’s portrayal was a poor, African-American man living on the streets who couldn’t get sufficient crack.

In reality, the portrayal of a crack addict typically seen in movies or television is largely inaccurate. Inaccurate perceptions of crack cocaine users are racially motivated. Factually, more Caucasians use crack than African-Americans in the United States.

There is also a widely-held belief that cracks users spend all day hunting down their next high. Rather, a new scientific study shows that a crack addict can temporarily suppress an obsession to make sound financial decisions.

Read on to learn more about crack addictions. Explore common symptoms of crack usage, its long-term impact on the body, and what We level Up treatment options are available.

Cocaine and crack are dangerous, addictive drugs that can lead to serious side effects including sudden cardiac death, brain seizures, heart attack, and stroke. No drugs are approved to rapidly reverse the cocaine overdose itself or to treat cocaine addiction. Counseling is the mainstay of treatment.

Seeking out cocaine crack is a sign of addiction – not just because an addict desires it, but because the addict likes the drug even though it is badly obvious that the habit has generated a lot of problems. For most people, breaking a habit when the hindrances outweigh the advantages is a logical course of action. For an individual that is addicted to a substance, considering that absolutely and objectively is not always easy.

What Do Crack Babies Look Like?

What’s a crack baby?

“Crack baby” was a term coined to describe children who were exposed to crack (freebase cocaine in smokable form) as fetuses; the concept of the crack baby emerged in the US during the 1980s and 1990s in the midst of a crack epidemic. Other terms are “cocaine baby” and “crack kid”.

Does crack use during pregnancy cause “crack babies”? No. The myth of the “crack baby” has persisted for decades, but studies have consistently concluded that prenatal exposure to crack cocaine, which happens when a woman smokes crack cocaine while pregnant, has little or no effect on the long-term development of a child. 

Exposure to cocaine (powder or crack) can slow fetal growth but the development of the brain and body catches up as these children grow up. It has not, as widely thought in the 80s and 90s, produced “joyless” or “unmanageable” children. 

Poverty and the harms and stresses associated with it have a more significant impact on the physical and emotional development of a child than pre-natal exposure to cocaine. Children from nurturing and cognitively stimulating environments perform better, regardless of cocaine exposure.

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As a stimulant drug, cocaine increases vital body functions such as heart rate, breathing, and body temperature. It gives users a strong jolt of energy that makes them more confident, talkative, and awake. Knowing the short-term side effects of the drug can help you identify a cocaine user

Short-term effects include:

  • Increased happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Talkativeness
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Speaking quickly
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors or muscle twitches

The effects of cocaine appear almost instantly after consuming the drug and can last for a few minutes to an hour or more depending on the method of administration. For example, snorting cocaine can produce a high that lasts 15-30 minutes while smoking it will only produce a short high, lasting 5 to 10 minutes.

Short-term physiological effects of cocaine use include constricted blood vessels; dilated pupils; and increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts of cocaine may intensify the user’s high but can also lead to bizarre, erratic, and violent behavior. Some cocaine users report feelings of restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia. Users may also experience tremors, vertigo, and muscle twitches.

Is Crack Cocaine Addictive?

Cocaine is a schedule II controlled substance in the United States, which means it has a high risk of abuse. Long-term crack cocaine use can change the structure and function of the brain, which increases the risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD).

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than half the people seeking cocaine addiction treatment use multiple substances. This is known as polydrug abuse and increases the risk of long-term health problems and overdose.

Professional addiction treatment centers offer comprehensive care from experienced professionals. Detox, residential treatment, and aftercare programs can help you develop the skills necessary to maintain long-term recovery.

Northeast Addictions Treatment Center offers behavioral therapies and other forms of evidence-based treatment that can help you prevent relapse and improve your well-being. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our treatment programs, please call our helpline today.

In an individual who is addicted, his or her cocaine use evolves into an addiction and powerful desire that can cause:

  • Loss of control over his or her life.
  • A willingness to do anything to get more cocaine.
  • Spending a tremendous amount of money on his or her habit.
  • A loss of interest in friends, family, and social activities.
  • A need to take the drug just to feel “normal.”

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Effects of Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine affects the central nervous system. It acts as a stimulant to create a euphoric high in users. Side effects of crack cocaine use include constricted blood vessels, increased heart rate, and blood pressure, restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. The effects that crack cocaine has on respiration and the heart mean that users are at substantial risk of having seizures or going into cardiac arrest, which can be followed by respiratory arrest and sudden death. Crack cocaine abuse is dangerous enough, but when it is combined with another substance, like alcohol, the potential consequences can be more than an individual’s body can handle.

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What Does Crack Look Like? Crack Cocaine is made by mixing baking soda or ammonia into the powder form of Cocaine. Crack Cocaine abuse is extremely dangerous.
What Does Crack Look Like? Crack Cocaine is made by mixing baking soda or ammonia into the powder form of Cocaine. Crack Cocaine abuse is extremely dangerous.

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Crack users will occasionally put the rocks into their mouths to check for purity. The taste is reportedly bitter but can taste like chemicals if there are high amounts of cutting agents and sometimes has a salty taste due to the alkaloids used. 

Drug dealers use various products to cut crack cocaine, some of which can be harmful. Pure cocaine is often heavily cut when making a crack in order to spread the amount of cocaine and increase profits. Read here to learn more about the cost of crack cocaine.

Cocaine Overdose

An overdose is generally foregone by dilated pupils and sweating. Individual who has overdosed may exhibit anxiety, aggression, seizures, rapid heart rate, chest pain, nausea, hallucinations, and/or stroke. Further, those with kidney problems or high blood pressure have a higher risk of fatal difficulties caused by smoking Crack Cocaine.

Cocaine Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

Acute cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include:3

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Slowed thoughts and movements.
  • Fatigue.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (e.g., hypersomnia, or increased sleeping).
  • Increased appetite.
  • Cocaine cravings.
  • Paranoia.

Though stimulation withdrawal does not usually affect intense physical signs (nor does it present immediate medical risks to a patient), some people may be at risk for transmitting significantly debilitating dysphoria (i.e., depression, overwhelmingly negative thoughts, and feelings). This deep dysphoric period could, in some cases, be associated with suicidal thoughts or attempts and could also lead to a patient relapsing on cocaine

Cocaine Crack And Alcohol

Mixing crack cocaine and alcohol is like counting a wild card in an already dangerous situation. Abusing crack cocaine or alcohol can seriously harm an individual when each substance is used alone. The results of mixing crack cocaine and alcohol, however, are not simply a cumulation of the highs created by each substance. As numerous people who are addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol realize, mixing the two substances actually reproduces the results, creating psychological and physical circumstances that are greater than the sum of the parts.

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Crack Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Taking the step to seek healing is the best finding a person can make when they begin struggling with substance use conditions. People may be uncertain about entering a therapy program because they don’t think their situation is serious enough or something awful hasn’t occurred in their life yet. Any time is the right time to seek out help if you can’t handle your urges for using crack cocaine.

Cocaine Detox

Cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs in the world. Ever since the 1970s when the popularity of cocaine began to skyrocket, the drug has been a problem for law enforcement, treatment professionals, and families across the globe, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine addiction causes problems that affect the individual as well as the community at large and is an issue that is being dealt with on a personal level as well as community, state, federal and international levels.

In order to overpower cocaine dependence, an individual must first fulfill detox. Cocaine detox is the first step in a complete cocaine rehab program. Detox helps the individual act past the primary health issues related to physical dependence upon the drug. Though you will likely be able to observe group therapy sessions and other forms of therapy during detox, the goal is to help you stabilize physically. Once you are feeling better, you will regain your energy and have the clarity needed for the work ahead in addiction treatment.

Medication Assisted Treatments (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery through our drug addiction treatment program medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Drug Rehab Near Me

Drug addiction is a condition that can cause significant health problems, such as an overdose. We at Level Up NJ rehab treatment & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from this with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition and clarify issues like drug withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please understand that each call is private and confidential.

Having trouble with drug addiction? Contact We Level Up NJ today so you can get the best treatment possible!
Having trouble with drug addiction? Contact We Level Up NJ today so you can get the best treatment possible!

Popular Cocaine Crack FAQs

How are Cocaine Cracks produced?

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

Who uses crack?

Individuals of all ages use crack cocaine–data reported in the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse indicate that an estimated 6,222,000 U.S. residents aged 12 and older used crack at least once in their lifetime.

How is crack abused?

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

What are the risks?

Cocaine, in any form, is a powerfully addictive drug, and addiction seems to develop more quickly when the drug is smoked–as crack is–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.

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