Freebase Cocaine: Risks & Effects of Freebasing Cocaine

Those who smoke freebase cocaine are at greater risk for overdose because it is pure cocaine, which makes it highly potent. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with Freebase Cocaine addiction.

Freebase Cocaine: Risks & Effects of Freebasing Cocaine

Smoking freebase cocaine has become increasingly prevalent in our society. Recent evidence suggests that smoking freebase cocaine can cause acute respiratory symptoms, abnormalities in lungs, and, in some instances, severe, life-threatening acute lung injury. But what is “cocaine freebase?” Freebase cocaine has been reduced to its cocaine base form by using ether, ammonia, or baking soda to remove the cocaine hydrochloride. Which results in the cocaine becoming extremely pure. Freebase cocaine has a low melting point which makes it desirable for smoking.

Since freebase cocaine is absorbed through the membranes of the lungs, it enters the bloodstream and the brain within 10-15 seconds. Once it reaches the brain, there is an intense feeling of euphoria followed by an extreme high lasting about 30 minutes. The process required to make freebase cocaine can be very dangerous. In addition to damage to several organs, including the heart and lungs, smoking freebase cocaine poses a high risk of addiction and overdose.

What Is Freebasing?

Freebasing is a process that can increase the potency of a substance. The term is typically used about cocaine use, though it’s possible to freebase other substances, including nicotine and morphine. What is freebase? Freebasing is 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 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.

The process of freebasing drugs makes them more potent and therefore increases their side effects and the high they produce. Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant when it’s not freebased, producing an intense and euphoric high along with symptoms like increased heart rate, inflated confidence, aggression, and more. Because it’s easier to smoke in this form, that’s what most users do. Freebasing cocaine can be done using a small glass pipe or a small piece of clean, heavy copper that acts as a reduction base on which the cocaine can melt and be boiled into a vapor. This freebased cocaine is then smoked.

What Is Freebasing Cocaine?

Freebase cocaine isolates the substance from additives. This then results in an almost entirely pure form of cocaine. Cocaine in its purest form is potent and highly addictive. There are detrimental health effects regarding freebase cocaine, as well as an even higher risk for a drug overdose. 

What is freebase cocaine? Freebase cocaine is also a solid form of the drug. In other words – it’s base form. In these cases, cocaine is smoked as a solid which is labeled as crack cocaine. “Freebasing,” allows users to experience the drug in its purest form, resulting in life-threatening effects.

How To Freebase Cocaine?

In order to create freebase, cocaine is mixed with baking soda, and heat is added to separate the impurities and remove the purified oil. After a period of time for cooling, the ‘freed base’ of extracted oil hardens, with any contaminants having been removed, and is then typically consumed via combustion and inhalation.

There are various methods in which an individual can use freebase cocaine. The most common way in which it is administered, however, is through being smoked. Similar to the process of smoking crack cocaine, this will usually involve the use of a small glass pipe, as well as a piece of copper or similar material.

Ashes from cigarettes or similar are frequently used as an alternative to copper-based screens, and many forms of impromptu smoking devices are employed to smoke freebase.

The copper is used as a screen for the cocaine, trapping the cocaine base as it melts down into a vaporized, smokable form of oil. Because this is done using such a pure form of cocaine, in most cases, freebasing produces effects that are particularly fast-acting.

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Cocaine Addiction Statistics

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020. Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020. In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

5.2 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 1.9% (or about 5.2 million people) reported using cocaine in 2020.

Source: NIH

1.3 million

Among people aged 12 or older, 0.5% (or about 1.3 million people) had a cocaine use disorder in 2020.

Source: NIH


In 2020, approximately 19,447 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

Source: NIH

Cocaine Drug Fact Sheet


Cocaine is a stimulant drug obtained from the leaves of two Coca species native to South America, Erythroxylum coca and Erythroxylum novogranatense.

Common Street Names for Cocaine

Cocaine base (smokable): Base, black rock, crack, electric kool-aid, rock, gravel, purple caps, Scotty, scramble, supercoke, twinkie, window pane, yam

Cocaine HCl: Aspirin, Big C, blow, coconut, coke, devil’s dandruff, flake, Florida snow, foo-foo dust, happy dust, lady, nose candy, white dragon, white lady, yao

Cocaine paste: Basuco, bazooka, pasta

Cocaine + heroin: Belushi, bipping, blanco, boy-girl, dynamite, goof ball, he-she, murder one, sandwich, snowball, speedball

Cocaine + marijuana: 51, banano, bazooka, blunt, C & M, candy sticks, caviar, champagne, cocktail, cocoa puff, crack bash, dirties, geek-joint, Greek, lace, P-dogs, premos, primo, Sherman stick, woo blunts, woolie

Cocaine + MDMA (ecstasy): Bumping up

Cocaine + MDMA + LSD: Candy flipping on a string

Cocaine + morphine: C & M

Cocaine + heroin + methamphetamine + flunitrazepam + alcohol: Five-way

Short Term Effects of Cocaine

  • Extreme happiness and energy
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity to sight, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia—extreme and unreasonable distrust of others

Long-Term Effects of Cocaine

Some long-term health effects of cocaine depend on the method of use and include the following:

  • snorting: loss of smell, nosebleeds, frequent runny nose, and problems with swallowing
  • smoking: cough, asthma, respiratory distress, and higher risk of infections like pneumonia
  • consuming by mouth: severe bowel decay from reduced blood flow
  • needle injection: higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne diseases, skin or soft tissue infections, as well as scarring or collapsed veins

Side Effects of Freebasing Cocaine

Now that you know what freebased cocaine is, you might have a better idea of how serious its side effects are. Considering that crack is known for its impact on physical and mental health, imagine what smoking nearly 100 percent pure cocaine can do.

Since it’s consumed by smoking, the effects of freebasing cocaine kick in almost immediately. Since freebase cocaine is absorbed through the membranes of the lungs, it usually enters the bloodstream and the brain within 10 to 15 seconds. Once it hits the brain, it induces the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine and then attaches to receptors to prevent the excess of the chemical from being reabsorbed. This allows the chemical to flood the brain, resulting in an intense rush of euphoria.

As intense and fast-acting as this high is, it’s generally short-lived and is usually followed by a severe crash in mood and other symptoms. Once the euphoria wears off, the person may begin to feel extremely fatigued, depressed, irritable, and paranoid.

Common signs and side effects of freebasing coke include:

  • Euphoria
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Inflated self-confidence
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Increased energy
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia or trouble sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Reduced sexual function
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trouble breathing or respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Asthma
Those who smoke freebase cocaine are at greater risk for overdose because it is pure cocaine, which makes it highly potent.
Those who smoke freebase cocaine are at greater risk for overdose because it is pure cocaine, which makes it highly potent.

Long-Term Effects of Freebasing Cocaine

Long-term effects of freebasing cocaine include mood changes, psychosis, irritability, restlessness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, oral health problems, and more. Considering that freebased cocaine is usually smoked, lung problems are also more likely to occur.

Moreover, due to the various drug paraphernalia used to freebase cocaine, additional risks include burns to the face or fingers from glass pipes, matches, and lighters during use. Users are also more prone to injuries from accidents or violence while under the influence of cocaine.

Overdose is also a major risk of using freebase cocaine. Considering that the drug is nearly 100 percent pure in this form, even using small doses of the drug can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.

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Risks Of Freebasing Cocaine

Because the effects of freebasing cocaine are so fast acting and short-lived, a person will be tempted to take more doses more frequently. Sadly, people who use cocaine will start building a tolerance to this kind of cocaine after a single use.

Lung Damage

Smoking any drug increases the risk of experiencing adverse effects on lung health, including breathing problems. Long-term use of freebase cocaine can result in chronic cough, asthma, and permanent lung damage. In addition, smoking cocaine frequently can increase your risk of pneumonia and other lung infections.

Cardiovascular Damage

Cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant that constricts blood vessels and increases heart rate and blood pressure. Frequent drug use can also result in chest pain, stroke, heart attacks, seizures, and cardiac arrest.


Freebase cocaine, which is likely smoked in a glass pipe or on tin foil, increases the risk of several types of infections. Freebasing often results in burns, cuts, and sores on the mouth and lips. These open wounds can cause blood to sit on the pipe. Sharing pipes with other people increases the risk of contact with contaminated blood and contracting infections like HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and Hepatitis C.

Neurological Impairment

Cocaine abuse can have serious adverse effects on brain health, including cognition. People who use cocaine frequently may experience attention and memory impairment. In addition, some people have trouble with impulse control, making decisions, and motor control. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term cocaine abuse can even result in an increased risk of movement disorders, like Parkinson’s disease.


The process of creating freebase cocaine is believed to remove impurities often associated with cocaine and other street drugs. However, it is a potent form of cocaine that can cause a potentially life-threatening overdose. A cocaine overdose can result in seizures, cardiac arrest, or death. If you think a loved one may be experiencing a cocaine overdose, seek medical help immediately.

Cocaine Addiction

Long-term cocaine use can change brain chemistry and may result in the development of a substance use disorder (SUD), also known as drug addiction. Cocaine addiction can cause intense cravings and frequent use of cocaine. Addiction changes the way a person’s brain responds to feelings of pleasure (reward). Abusing freebase cocaine leads to an excess buildup in the brain of the chemical dopamine. The brain eventually adapts to this change, no longer responding to the drug’s effects. In other words, one may adopt a tolerance to the drug thus needing much more to get the same effect. 

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Learn more about what it means to freebase cocaine and smoke cocaine and the dangers of using cocaine in these methods.
Learn more about what it means to freebase cocaine and smoke cocaine and the dangers of using cocaine in these methods.

Paraphernalia Associated With Freebasing Or Smoking Cocaine

Paraphernalia for freebasing or smoking cocaine is often made out of common household items.

Paraphernalia can include:

  • aluminum cans
  • tin foil
  • straws
  • steel wool
  • light bulbs

Signs That Someone Is Freebasing or Smoking Cocaine

The usual telltale sign that someone is smoking or freebasing cocaine over other methods of using cocaine is the appearance of cracked or burned lips and fingers.

Behavioral Signs Of Smoking or Freebasing Cocaine

However, there are behavioral signs as well that someone is abusing cocaine in this manner.

These signs may include:

  • Acting overly confident
  • Acting hyperactive or unusually energetic
  • Restless behavior and trouble sitting still
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Acting uncharacteristically irresponsible or reckless

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The Differences Between Powder Cocaine, Freebase Cocaine, and Crack Cocaine

There are several methods by which people can use cocaine. Even though cocaine is most commonly snorted in its hydrochloride salt form, it can be swallowed as well as injected or consumed with alcohol.

Powder cocaine is the form which is generally ‘snorted’ by sniffing it up the nose. A narrow line of the power is placed on a smooth surface and the user quickly sniffs it into one nostril through a tube such as a rolled pound note or straw, or by using a specially designed spoon or other paraphernalia. Generally, this snorting is repeated within a few seconds using the other nostril.

Cocaine powder in its crystalline form can be dissolved in water and ‘slammed’, or used intravenously.Cocaine in its powder state has a high melting point and cannot be smoked.

Freebase cocaine is cocaine that is virtually free of the drug’s hydrochloride additive.Freebase cocaine is the result of the conversion of powder cocaine to cocaine sulphate.This new state makes the drug nearly 100 per cent pure.For this reason, the drug now has a low melting point and is no longer water soluble, thus enabling it to be smoked.

Crack cocaine is another form of cocaine and is the most lethal of all. Using baking soda and heat, the crack is extracted from the cocaine powder resulting in a waxy rock-like substance, which is often referred to as a ‘rock of crack’. This rock is then broken into small pieces and sold in vials and is the easiest form of cocaine to smoke. Crack cocaine addiction is no joke.

As the effects of the freebase cocaine decrease, a person may experience fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, or even paranoia.
As the effects of the freebase cocaine decrease, a person may experience fatigue, depression, irritability, anxiety, or even paranoia. 

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Cocaine Addiction Treatment

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing cocaine, you should research the substances and their associated addiction to understand better what your loved one needs.  Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle the effects of cocaine addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. Lastly, show your support throughout the entire treatment process.

In addition, prolonged drug use can have severe physical and psychological effects on you, so it is essential to seek treatment as soon as possible. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of cocaine withdrawal

Cocaine Detox

Medical detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated cocaine detox withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior contributing to drug use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete the cocaine detox.

Cravings are very common during drug detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can give medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Inpatient Cocaine Addiction Rehab

There isn’t one treatment approach or style that will suit everyone. Treatment should speak to the needs of the individual. Inpatient rehab and addiction treatment aren’t just about drug use. the goal is to help the patient stop using cocaine and other substances, but drug rehab should also focus on the whole person’s needs.

Addiction is a complex but treatable disease that affects brain function and behavior. When someone or their family is considering different treatment facilities, they should account for the complexity of addiction and the needs of the individual. The objective of attending an inpatient rehab center for addiction treatment is to stop using the drug and re-learn how to live a productive life without it.

Following a full medical detox, most people benefit from inpatient rehab. Inpatient drug rehab can last anywhere from 28 days to several months. Patients stay overnight in the rehab facility and participate in intensive treatment programs and therapy. Once someone completes rehab, their addiction treatment team will create an aftercare plan, which may include continuing therapy and participation in a 12-step program like Narcotics Anonymous.


Many rehab programs will also have early morning classes or programs. Group sessions occur during inpatient rehab, as do individual therapy sessions. Family therapy may be part of inpatient rehab when it’s feasible. Alternative forms of therapy may be introduced during inpatient rehab, like a holistic therapy program, yoga for addiction recovery, or an addiction treatment massage therapy.

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
The method by which freebase cocaine is created includes extracting certain alkaloids from it. This creates one of the purest forms of cocaine available.
The method by which freebase cocaine is created includes extracting certain alkaloids from it. This creates one of the purest forms of cocaine available. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. Traumatic experiences can often result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend mainly on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

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 opioid 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.

Cocaine Rehab Near Me

Cocaine addiction is a condition that can cause major health problems, such as an overdose. We 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 withdrawal symptoms. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.

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