Crack Cocaine

Crack Cocaine | Crack Cocaine Addiction| Crack Cocaine Physical Effects

The chemical cocaine hydrochloride is commonly known as crack. Some users chemically process cocaine in order to remove the hydrochloride. This process is called “freebasing” and makes the drug more potent. “Crack” is a solid form of freebased cocaine. It is called “crack” because it snaps and cracks when heated and smoked. Since crack is an already prepared form of freebased cocaine, the user does not have to buy the equipment or be exposed to the explosive chemicals associated with freebasing. Crack is most often packaged in vials or plastic bags and sold in small quantities, usually 300-500mg or enough for two to three inhalations. In the 1970s cocaine was expensive and considered a “status” drug. The introduction of inexpensive crack increased the accessibility of this substance, and crack has become the drug of choice for many drug users, especially inner-city disadvantaged youth. Crack’s convenience, ease of concealment, wide availability, and low cost has increased its use. The fact that it is smoked rather than snorted or injected (ingestion methods associated with the stigma of being a “junkie”) has contributed to its popularity.

What is the difference between Crack and Cocaine?

Crack is made from Cocaine in a process called freebasing, in which cocaine powder is cooked with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to create rocks, chips, or chunks that can be smoked. Crack is usually smoked in a pipe. Because it’s smoked, crack cocaine effects are felt more quickly and they are more intense than those of powder cocaine. However, the effects of smoked crack are shorter lived than the effects of snorted powder cocaine.

How is crack used?

The same way that freebase is used, namely, by placing the substance in a glass pipe (or hash pipe) with a fine mesh screen under it, then heating it and inhaling the vapours. The vapours of the freebase are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and transported to the brain within 10-15 seconds. One inhalation will produce a degree of intoxication usually lasting 10-15 minutes.

Physical side effects of crack addiction

Changes in blood pressure, heart rates, and breathing rates, nausea, vomiting, anxiety, convulsions, insomnia, loss of appetite leading to malnutrition and weight loss, cold sweats, swelling and bleeding of mucous membranes, restlessness and anxiety, damage to nasal cavities through exhalation, damage to lungs, possible heart attacks, strokes, or convulsions Crack is particularly dangerous for several reasons: Crack is inhaled and rapidly absorbed through the lungs, into the blood, and carried swiftly to the brain. The chances of overdosing and poisoning leading to coma, convulsions, and death are greatly increased. Crack’s rapid rush 5 to 7 minutes of intense pleasure quickly subsides, leading to depression that needs to be relieved by more crack. This cycle enhances the chances of addiction and dependency. Because of the brief high, users are constantly thinking about and devising ways to get more crack. Psychologically, the drug reduces concentration, ambition, and drive, and increases confusion and irritability, wreaking havoc on users’ professional and personal lives. Habitual use may lead to cocaine psychosis, causing paranoia, hallucinations, and a condition known as formication, in which insects or snakes are perceived to be crawling under the skin. The paranoia and depression can instigate violent and suicidal behaviour. The side effects of adulterants increase cocaine’s risks. The drug is often cut with one or more of any number of other substances, such as the cheaper drugs procaine, lidocaine, and benzocaine, and substances that pose no serious risks, such as sugars (mannitol and sucrose), or starches. However, when quinine or amphetamines are added, the potential for serious side effects increases dramatically.

When are the effects felt from smoking crack?

Facilitated by the large surface area of the lungs’ air sacs, cocaine administered by inhalation is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream, taking only a few seconds to reach the brain. However, only 30 to 60 percent of the available dose is absorbed due to incomplete inhalation of the cocaine-laden fumes and variations in the heating temperature. Crack smokers achieve maximum physiological effects approximately two minutes after inhalation. Maximum psychotropic effects are attained approximately one minute after inhalation. Similar to intravenous administration, the physiological and psychotropic effects of inhaled cocaine are sustained for approximately 30 minutes after peak effects are attained. During the early use of crack the effects include: magnification of pleasure, euphoria, alertness and in some cases – hyper-alertness, increased and sometimes a (grandiose) sense of well being decreased anxiety, lower social inhibitions: more sociable and talkative, heightened energy, self-esteem, sexuality and emotions aroused by interpersonal experiences, appetite loss, weight loss. After compulsive use the effects of crack are: extreme euphoria – “mental orgasm”, uninhibited impaired judgment, hyper sexuality, hyper vigilance or paranoia, compulsivity, extreme psychomotor activation/agitation, anxiety; irritability; argumentative, transient panic, terror of impending death, poor reality testing, delusions and extreme weight loss

How does crack work?

Crack works on the automatic nervous system. The automatic nervous system controls the sympathetic system which speeds everything up such as the heart and breathing. The autonomic nervous system also controls the para-sympathetic system which does the exact opposite (slows things down). This is why when people smoke the crack they get hyper. Crack works by one of the brains neuro transmitters releasing all the dopamine at once (dopamine is a chemical in the brain which releases feelings of pleasure. When we laugh a slight amount of dopamine is released and this makes you feel good). After this dopamine has been released, Crack can, in some cases, block the re-uptake of the dopamine. If this happens the person will now find it a mission to get any sort of pleasure.

Complications associated with smoking crack during pregnancy?

Increased incidence of still births, increased incidence of miscarriages, premature (often fatal) labor and delivery. In males, the cocaine in crack may attach to the sperm causing damage to the cells of the foetus. Babies exposed to cocaine experience painful and life threatening withdrawal, are irritable, have poor ability to regulate their own body temperature and blood sugar and are at increased risk of having seizures. Effects of Crack on the Foetus: seizures or strokes, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, vision and hearing impairments, urinary tract abnormalities, autism and learning disabilities

Legal consequences of crack cocaine

Crack cocaine can trigger a mandatory minimum sentence for a first time offence of possession or use. The compulsion that crack causes to obtain it at any cost results in the user using hug amounts of money an very short periods of time. Users will sell anything including their own possessions, other peoples possessions, cars, steal or rob people for money, credit card fraud, armed robbery, violent assault and even murder in order to obtain enough money to continue. Once the user “crashes” (stops using after a binge) which may take up to 5 or six days, they will sleep for up to 72 hours continuously. The resulting depression and reality of the possible consequences because of their actions leads them straight back to using.

The effects of hyper sexuality can result in the user committing statutory rape even with minors resulting in them being classified as paedophiles although they are not even attracted to children whilst clean. The need to have a sexual orgasmic release can become so overwhelming that they have no control over desires that they would not normally experience whilst clean. The consequences can be disastrous to themselves and permanently affect the lives of others. It is no wonder that the criminal justice system imposes heavy sentences for possession. It must however be understood by the courts that they have no control and would not commit the crimes committed in their normal state of mind. Premeditation of crimes can be committed however once a craving has been stimulated by the user’s normal environment. Once a craving has been stimulated, the addict has almost no control of their actions as the craving stimulates physical memories of pleasure similar to that of already being intoxicated with the drug and may even experience mild to serious tremors or convulsions which, in the addicts mind, can only be relieved by using.

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