Differences Between Cocaine And Crack Cocaine

Cocaine and crack cocaine are treated very differently in our society.  Although they can both be tested for by the same test, they are treated quite differently by the criminal justice system.  We take a look below at why this is so.

Difference Number One: What They Look Like

Cocaine and crack cocaine can generally be differentiated pretty easily just by what they look like. Crack cocaine is seen in “rock” form and looks like rocks or little nuggets. Cocaine is a white powder. Crack cocaine is more frequently off-white, while cocaine is white (although color can vary depending on if and what it’s mixed with).

Difference Number Two:  What They’re Made Of

Crack cocaine and cocaine are fundamentally the same.  Cocaine is generally in a salt form, known as “cocaine hydrochloride.” It is also mixed with other substances in many cases, such as baking soda, so that the quantity of cocaine being sold seems more substantial. Sometimes it is mixed (or “cut”) with methamphetamine.

Crack is freebase cocaine that you can smoke. People make it with baking soda and water. Interestingly, cocaine hydrochloride (the most common form of powder cocaine) cannot be smoked at all as its melting point is too high. If smoked it burns up without effect (see the “Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment“).

Difference Number Three: How They Affect You

The effects of cocaine and crack cocaine are similar but they vary in intensity. They give users a feeling of euphoria or power, and energy. A crack cocaine high lasts about five to fifteen minutes but feels much more intense than a cocaine high. A powder cocaine high lasts somewhat longer. Both highs are very addictive and dangerous. People have died after trying cocaine only one time.

The side effects of cocaine and crack cocaine are similar and again vary only in intensity. These include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, nausea, reduced appetite and sleep, convulsions and even heart attacks. The rapid effect of crack cocaine increases the chances of overdosing too. As the high disappears, a feeling of depression is also likely to set in. Frequent and extended use of cocaine can result in psychosis, hallucinations and extreme irritability. Crack cocaine is extra dangerous due to the various other chemicals that can be added in with it.

Detecting Cocaine

The one way in which crack cocaine and cocaine abuse can be thwarted is by ensuring that parents speak to their teens specifically about the problems that each form of the drug can create. This is just an introduction – there are other variations of cocaine, like freebase cocaine, out there too. You can cocaine drug test in a few different ways – hair, urine, and saliva can all be used as samples. We carry a substance detection kit for cocaine too. With that kit you can determine if the powder you see or little “nugget” you see is actually cocaine.

It’s very important to know some information about how you can tell drugs are being used or what they are, and it’s important to keep in touch with your kids about drugs. They may not be the easiest conversations but they can be very very important ones to have.

- Article by Anne Hamilton