Difference Between Crack and Coke
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Francine Mends, MD on May 14, 2020
Cocaine—or coke—and crack are often compared to each other, likely because they’re both made from the South American coca plant. In fact, crack is cocaine mixed with other substances, which is why it’s also called crack cocaine. Though these drugs have a lot in common, they have different appearances and methods of ingestion.
If you’re curious about the differences between crack and coke, read on to see how they compare. Then find out how to get treatment if you think you’re addicted to either drug.
The Appearance of Crack vs Cocaine
The most obvious difference between crack and coke is the appearance of each drug. Coke is a white, powdery substance. Originally, it is derived from the coca plant, but drug dealers often add other substances to it to make more money. These substances might include: flour, cornstarch, talcum powder or baking soda.
On the other hand, to make crack, manufacturers dissolve coke in water and another substance, such as ammonia or baking soda. They can then boil this mixture, which forms a solid that looks like a whitish-yellow rock. After the rock cools, they can break it into smaller rocks to distribute.
Since coke is in powder form, people usually snort it through the nostrils, where the bloodstream absorbs the drug. But since crack is solid, it’s not ingested the same way. Instead, people typically smoke it. In fact, it’s named crack because it makes a crackling sound while being smoked.
Note that inhaling the vapor from smoking crack causes the body to absorb the drug faster than it would through snorting coke. In addition, crack’s appearance changes once it’s been smoked. While previously it was a solid, light-colored rock, it becomes black and melted after it’s been smoked. It also leaves a strong, unpleasant odor that’s similar to burning plastic or rubber.
The Effects of Crack vs Coke
Both crack and coke cause the brain to release high amounts of dopamine. This creates a pleasurable feeling, otherwise known as a “high”. But the high lasts for slightly different amounts of time depending on how you ingest the drug.
When you snort cocaine, the high can last for about 15 to 30 minutes. You’ll notice a rush of euphoria, confidence, and energy for most of that time. With crack, the high lasts for only 5 to 10 minutes, but it’s more intense.
Whether you use coke or crack, you’ll face almost the same effects. The following are the short-term effects you’ll likely have when you use crack or coke:
- Excessive energy
- Mental alertness
- Loss of appetite
- Extreme sensitivity to sound, touch, and light
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate, temperature, and blood pressure
If you continue using crack or cocaine for a long time, you can expect some dangerous long-term effects. After all, the longer you use drugs, the higher your tolerance is. This means you have to ingest more to get the same high you first got. This is why you have a higher chance of overdosing the longer you use the drug.
But overdose isn’t the only health concern. Even if you avoid overdosing, the long-term effects you face may include:
- Seizures or convulsions
- Heart disease
- Respiratory failure
In addition, you could face health risks specific to the way you ingest the drug. For example, if you snort coke, you could eventually suffer from frequent nosebleeds, inflamed and runny nose, and loss of your sense of smell. You might also have trouble swallowing and notice some hoarseness. And if you smoke crack, you could damage your lungs over time and eventually have trouble breathing.
Get Treatment for Your Addiction to Crack or Coke
Both crack and coke are highly addictive and dangerous to your health. Crack does have a slightly worse reputation because its effects are immediate but short-lived. This causes people to need to use crack more often to maintain their high. That being said, both drugs usually require treatment from professionals.
Treatment often starts with detox in order to manage the withdrawal symptoms, which can include:
- Increased appetite
- Intense discomfort
- Thoughts of suicide
Once you’re done with detox, you should choose a treatment center that can help you overcome your crack or coke addiction. Note that the treatment is similar for both drugs. Either way, it usually includes a combination of individual counseling and group therapy at an inpatient or outpatient center.
Whether you’re struggling with an addiction to crack or coke, you need treatment from a team of compassionate professionals. Search through our directory today to find the nearest treatment center that can help you quit crack or coke.
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