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Is Crack More Addictive Than Cocaine? (Crack vs Cocaine)

Written By: Erika Dalton, LCSW

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD

Last Updated: October 5, 2023

Have you asked yourself this question: Is crack more addictive than cocaine? If you have, you or someone you love likely is experiencing drug abuse that has become a concern. Both crack and cocaine are addictive and dangerous for anyone struggling with using them. Exploring the differences and the similarities can help you decide what steps to take when it comes to getting effective treatment.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a potent and illicit stimulant derived from powdered cocaine. Created by chemically altering cocaine powder to form smokable “rocks,” crack provides a rapid, intense high, making it highly addictive. Typically off-white or yellowish in appearance, these rocks produce a crackling sound when heated, leading to the name “crack.”

Crack is created by dissolving powdered cocaine into a mixture that contains water and either sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or ammonia. From there, the mixture is boiled and forms a solid substance that is broken into tiny rocks. Crack has a white or off-white appearance. The drug is smoked and produces a powerful, often debilitating high. The high does not typically last long, causing a person to smoke large amounts of it. Crack is a highly addictive substance and is illegal in the United States. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, which includes other drugs with a high risk of becoming addicted. Those drugs include amphetamines, methamphetamines, oxycodone, and fentanyl. 

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is also classified as a Schedule II drug and has a high risk of a person who uses it developing an addiction. Cocaine is made from coca leaves that come from South America. It is illegal in the United States. Cocaine is commonly snorted but can also be smoked or injected into the body. Cocaine became popular in the 1970s, in part because many people did not understand how dangerous the drug is. During the 1980s, crack usage became prevalent, putting the spotlight on how dangerous both it and cocaine in its unconverted form prove to be for millions.

What Are The Differences Between Crack and Cocaine?

Below are the primary differences between the two:

1. Form and Composition:

  • Crack Cocaine:
    • Crack is a freebase form of cocaine, often appearing as small, hard, crystalline rocks.
    • It is created by mixing powdered cocaine with a base (like baking soda) and heating it.
  • Powder Cocaine:
    • Appears as a fine, white powder.
    • It is a hydrochloride salt, making it water-soluble.

2. Method of Use:

  • Crack Cocaine: Typically smoked, allowing for rapid absorption into the bloodstream through the lungs.
  • Powder Cocaine: Often snorted, but can also be dissolved and injected.

3. Effects and Duration:

  • Crack Cocaine:
    • Provides an intense but short-lived high, often lasting around 5 to 15 minutes.
    • Effects are felt almost immediately.
  • Powder Cocaine:
    • The high is less intense than crack but lasts longer, approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
    • Takes longer to feel the effects since it is absorbed more slowly.

4. Addiction Potential:

  • Crack Cocaine: Considered more addictive due to the immediacy and intensity of its high.
  • Powder Cocaine: Also highly addictive but may not lead to dependency as quickly as crack.

5. Cost:

  • Crack Cocaine: Typically less expensive than powder cocaine, making it more accessible.
  • Powder Cocaine: Often pricier and sometimes considered a “status” drug.

6. Legal Penalties:

  • Crack Cocaine: Penalties for possession, distribution, or manufacturing are often more severe than those for powder cocaine in many jurisdictions.
  • Powder Cocaine: Although illegal and penalized, sentences may be less harsh than those for crack offenses.

Is Crack More Addictive Than Cocaine?

Both crack and cocaine provide a huge risk for someone using them to become addicted. Both drugs affect the brain’s ability to naturally produce chemicals like dopamine that flood the body with a sense of joy and pleasure. Once addiction sets in, the brain can no longer produce this chemical on its own. Cocaine in all forms floods the brain with an excessive amount of unnaturally produced dopamine. The individual using it can quickly get used to this feeling and seek it out even through dangerous methods like drug abuse. 

The answer to the question “Is crack more addictive than cocaine?” can be found in two subject matters. Yes, crack is more addictive than cocaine. First, smoking crack produces a feeling of being high more quickly than snorting cocaine. Even if the high takes effect just minutes later with cocaine, many people come to rely on the quick delivery that comes with using crack. Additionally, many crack users report that the high they receive from crack is more intensified than that they get from snorting coke. 

The second reason addiction may happen more often with crack has to do with the effects that come when not using it. For many people, the withdrawal symptoms that occur when they haven’t used crack for a period of time are more difficult to bear than those that occur with cocaine. The symptoms often appear more quickly, too. This, in turn, can lead to using crack more often than cocaine in order to stave off painful and difficult withdrawal symptoms.

Signs of Crack and Cocaine Addiction

Someone addicted to crack shows similar signs compared to those that often show up with an addiction to cocaine. These include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss 
  • Nosebleeds
  • Excessive energy
  • Difficulty focusing on one task
  • Elevated pulse or heart rate
  • Talkative
  • Insomnia
  • Moodiness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Spending a lot of money for unexplained reasons
  • Lack of hygiene
  • White powder residue near the mouth or nose
  • Burn marks around the mouth or on the hands
  • Paraphernalia such as crack pipes, spoons, and razor blades

Treatment for Crack and Cocaine Addiction

Whether or not crack is more addictive than cocaine should not factor into getting treatment for addiction. Whichever form of coke a person ingests can cause major physical and emotional harm and even put the individual at risk of death. Effective treatment for crack and cocaine addiction usually starts with a detox program. Once the toxins from the narcotic have left the body, the individual is ready to begin the next step in recovery.

When a crack or cocaine addiction has been severe enough, a person may move into a residential program. For others, outpatient care can provide what they need. Outpatient cocaine rehab, intensive outpatient programs, and partial hospitalization programs all take place during the day. The person attending them can live in their homes or sober living homes. Cocaine rehab provides focused treatment including multiple types of therapy designed to help the individual become sober and stay that way. 

Begin Crack and Cocaine Rehab in Atlanta

Do you find yourself wondering “Is crack more addictive than cocaine?” If so, abuse of either drug may have escalated to addiction and you or someone you love may need professional help. Buckhead Behavioral Health employs a staff of addiction specialists who understand how to treat substance use disorders. Our outpatient services teach you how to understand and overcome your addiction and live the healthy life you deserve.

If you are ready to address your crack or cocaine addiction, we can help. Visit our admissions page now and see how easy it is to leave addiction in your past.

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