What is Crack? Signs of Use, Dangers, Side Effects and Withdrawals

crack pipe
Smoking Crack

Drug abuse is something that can affect not only your body but also your mental health. After all, drug addiction makes you less resistant to the urge to use them since you have been dependent on them for so long.

There are various types of drugs that you can get addicted to. One of them is crack, a highly addictive form of cocaine. Crack cocaine’s impact isn’t as severe as regular cocaine, but the addiction and danger can still be severe.

What Is Crack? 

Crack is a street name for cocaine that has been processed to be in a rock-like state and can be smoked. This drug acts as a stimulant, like methamphetamine, and gives the user an emotional high. Unlike other forms of cocaine, a crack can be deadlier and more addictive because it is directly absorbed into the blood through the lungs and then the brain.

In case you’re wondering what it looks like, the appearance of the it is similar to that of a whitish or off-white rock resembling dry concrete or ice chunks. It can have varying colors due to impurities on the stone, but it is usually white or off-white. You can compare the texture and appearance of crack cocaine to that of chewing gum.

Crack cocaine can also be in different forms, just like other drugs. The drug is first processed and heated to become vapor. Afterward, it will turn into a powdered form, commonly known as a free-base, because it turns into a gas. Once it has turned into a vapor, the next step is mixing it with other chemicals and making it a rock-like substance.

Regarding its smell, crack cocaine has a peculiar scent that you won’t easily forget. It smells like dry concrete and ammonia. Some users describe it as smelling like cat urine soaked in ammonia. While this drug can be inhaled, one can also ingest it by eating it.

Other Names for Crack

There is an evolving list of other names that people use to describe crack and its use. They mostly describe the substance’s appearance or relate it to something geographical, like the origin, culture, and people. Always note that these slang words often change based on the location.

According to DEA research, these are the most common slang terms for crack:

  • Base
  • 51s
  • Salt
  • Keystones
  • Jelly beans
  • Chalk
  • Beans
  • Whiz
  • Balls
  • Boulders
  • Dubb
  • Biscuits
  • Bump
  • Ridin’ the Pipe
  • Serial Snort
  • Speedball
  • White Sugar

There are also slang words that are related to the use of crack, which includes:

  • Crack baby – A baby who was exposed to crack cocaine during pregnancy.
  • Crack house – A house/location where you can find crack.
  • Crack whore – Sometimes, a crack addict marries a prostitute to make ends meet.
  • Cracking the pipe – Using a crack pipe.
  • Cracking rocks – Smoking crack.
  • Snorting – Injecting the drug.
  • 1.0 – One ounce of crack.
  • Crackspot – A place where crack is sold.
  • Crack-a-lackin’ – A person who sells crack.
  • Crackhead – A person who uses crack heavily.
  • Crack Invasion – The spread of crack use throughout the world.
  • Crack Attack – The number of people who are addicted to crack.

What Does Crack Look Like?

Unlike powdered cocaine, looks like crystalline “rocks” of various shapes and sizes. They range from clear to opaque and usually have a white, off-white, or yellow color. 

How Is Crack Administered?

This drug is commonly solid and usually smoked like other drugs. But there are also different methods on how you can use it.

  • Smoking

The simplest and most common method of taking it is by smoking it. Users can smoke it in pipes, bongs, and cigarettes. They heat the rock to vaporize it, which they then inhale. A user can also smoke it in joints, sometimes combined with marijuana. 

  • Snorting

Some users prefer snorting this drug because it’s less harmful than smoking. They can also get a bigger rush and euphoric feeling than if they smoked it. However, this process is more expensive and intense due to the chemical reaction with the nasal membranes.

  • Meth

Another method is mixing meth and crack, which some call “speedball.” This is popular in rural areas of the US, notably in the Appalachian region.

  • Injecting

This is not a standard method of taking this drug, but some users have tried it. They inject a needle full of crack cocaine into their veins and feel high within seconds. Compared to smoking, it has a more intense high but is also complicated and dangerous.

crack cocain
What is Crack

Dangerous Effects of Crack

Once this drug goes into your blood, it quickly reaches the brain and gives you a euphoric high. It acts like other drugs by releasing a rush of dopamine and other happy hormones that give you the thrill. However, its toxicity starts to destroy the molecular structure of your brain cells.

The high that this drug gives you only lasts a few minutes but can also be for an hour sometimes. The high comes with a feeling of being on top of the world. You experience a rush of energy, a sense of giving and receiving love, and an increased sex drive.

However, the high effect is soon followed by a “crash,” where you feel edgy, jittery, and incapable of feeling pleasure. You also experience a decreased sensitivity to pain, making it difficult for you to handle other sensations. The low can last for a few days.

Other side effects include

  • Shortness of breath
  • Bronchitis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle pains
  • Swelling of hands and feet
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Sweating
  • Sudden heart attack
  • Sudden death
  • Intense and prolonged paranoia
  • Depression
  • Suicidal behavior

Withdrawal Symptoms and Duration

Detox is one way to overcome drug addiction and start a new life. It can be long and challenging, but ending the addiction and experiencing withdrawal symptoms is usually the first step in treatment. The symptoms of withdrawal vary from person to person and depend on the amount and frequency of usage.

Nonetheless, withdrawal symptoms usually start within a few hours of the last use and can last for several days to several weeks. The most common symptoms are:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Anxiety, confusion, tremors, and insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • High levels of depression, anger, and rage
  • Exhaustion
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fevers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness

You must attend a credible and reliable rehab center if you want to quit drug addiction and treat your withdrawal symptoms. They can present you with the best assistance in detoxification, which is the first step in recovery.

Quitting Cold Turkey

Some patients tend just to quit taking it without proper guidance and medication. But the thing is, if you are not monitored and treated, you can’t achieve true sobriety. In fact, you can relapse and get addicted to this drug again. To ensure safe and complete detoxification, you may want to try a rehab center or a similar medical facility.


It destroys your brain, alters your personality, and makes you dependent on the drug. It also messes up your brain and body, thus affecting your overall health. With long-term use, you can experience permanent damage and even death.

But quitting is not easy, so you can always fall back on rehab if you are struggling. It’s never too late to recognize that you need help, so don’t delay the process. Think about it: the longer you use it, the harder it is to get out of the addiction.