Is Crack or Cocaine More Dangerous?

Crack is an impure form of cocaine that is made into a crystal and is often smoked or cooked down and injected. Crack cocaine is no more dangerous than powdered cocaine; it just presents different dangers because it is smoked or injected.Smoking or injecting cocaine produces a very quick and more intense high because it is quickly absorbed into the blood.2

In the mid-1980s, there was an incorrect belief that crack was more dangerous and caused more violent behavior.1 Studies later found that the difference was more likely due to demographics and co-occurring disorders rather than crack itself.1

This article will explore the differences between crack cocaine and cocaine.

What’s the Difference Between Crack and Cocaine?

Crack is a form of cocaine that has been made into a rock crystal form by processing powdered cocaine with other compounds.4 To achieve the desired effect, the crystal is smoked by either heating it or sprinkling it on marijuana or tobacco.4

Unprocessed cocaine, or pure cocaine, is a white, powdery substance that can be snorted through your nose, rubbed on your gums, or dissolved and injected.4 The powder is commonly laced, unknowingly or knowingly to the person misusing it, with opioids or other substances.4

Immediate Effects of Crack Cocaine vs. Cocaine

The immediate effects of crack cocaine and cocaine are very similar, but these effects can range and depend on the method of which the drug is taken.5 Smoking crack cocaine may produce immediate effects, which typically last between 5 and 10 minutes, while taking powder cocaine through the nose or mouth may cause the effects to last between 15 and 30 minutes. The effects and associated risks include the following:4

  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness
  • Increased perception to sight, sound, and touch
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Violent behaviors

Aside from the duration and the intensity of the effects, smoking crack and using powdered cocaine have nearly identical short-term effects. But, long-term effects may vary.

Long-Term Health Effects of Crack Cocaine vs. Cocaine

Long-term effects of smoking crack cocaine include the following:

  • Higher likelihood of addiction.3
  • Asthma.4
  • Fluid in the lungs.6
  • Damage to lung structures, stiffening or stretching out too much.6
  • Pneumonia.6
  • Interstitial lung disease.6
  • Pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in lungs.6
  • ‘Crack lung’ (chest pain, fever, difficulty breathing, coughing up blood, decreased oxygen, and ultimate failure to breathe).6

Snorting, ingesting, or injecting cocaine has the following long-term problems:4

  • Loss of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Perforation of the tissue between your nostrils
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Higher risk for contracting HIV, hepatitis C, or other diseases in the blood
  • Severe skin or tissue infections
  • Scarring and collapsed veins

However, using either crack or cocaine may lead to any of these long-term effects:5

  • Heart attack
  • Kidney damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers and inflammation in your digestive tract
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Weakened immune system4

Even if you or someone you love have begun to experience some of these long-term effects of cocaine use, it is never too late to get help and prevent further damage. Continuing to misuse crack or cocaine can cause severe effects such as those listed above, and potentially even death.

Get Help for Cocaine Use

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Sunrise House Treatment Center is able to help you get going toward a life without cocaine. As an inpatient rehab in New Jersey, our facility is well-staffed and equipped to help you get sober, develop cocaine relapse prevention skills, and establish sobriety support after rehab. They can help you with an initial assessment and then figure out which types of addiction treatment might work for you.

Getting treatment is worth it, and many find that they have insurance plans that cover rehab or are able to find other options and ways to pay for rehab. Cocaine is a powerful drug, but you don’t have to let it control your life. Start the admissions process online or call today to begin getting in control of your cocaine addiction once and for all. Our staff are here to answer all your questions and provide you with as much information as possible as you start finding your way in recovery.

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