What Is Crack? Answers About Crack Cocaine And Addiction

Crack is “rocks” made from cocaine powder. First, it is mixed with water and baking soda by usually heating on a spoon. Next, it is heated generally with a lighter until it becomes liquid and crystallizes into a rock. Small pieces that break off this rock are called rocks.

Heating cocaine, water, baking soda produces crackling sounds that give this dangerous drug its name. 

Street names include;

  •  Flake
  • “C”
  • Rock

People use cocaine powder by snorting it while users smoke it in a pipe or similar device. Other users intravenously inject cocaine after the powder combines it in water or lemon juice. Finally, hardcore users sometimes inject a combination with heroin, called a “speedballing.”

Does Crack Cost More Than Cocaine?

Anecdotal information indicates that the cost of crack ranges from $5 to over $100 for one or two rocks. Cocaine in powder form tends to be more expensive, with a gram of cocaine worth $50 or $60 on the street. Rocks cost more to buy in urban areas, where demand for cocaine is high.

A gram of cocaine can create about eight rocks that contain at least 80 percent pure cocaine.

Point of Entry, Prevalence, and Demographics

The main entry point for most cocaine entering the U.S. is the Southwest Border (U.S./Mexico border). According to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Agency:

  • In 2018, CBP seized 58,160 pounds of cocaine at the SWB
  • In 2019, CBP seized 101,140 pounds of cocaine at the SWB
  • In 2020, CBP seized 58,000 pounds of cocaine at the SWB
  • To date, in 2021, 86,580 pounds of cocaine were confiscated at the SWB

Estimates indicate that the global quantity of cocaine seized in 2019 exceeded 1400 tons, a staggering amount nearly 10 percent higher than cocaine seizures in 2018.

Who Uses Crack?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the percentage of Americans using cocaine–two percent–did not change between 2007 and 2016. However, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics reports that in 2018, 5.5 million individuals admitted to using cocaine. It suggests the percentage of cocaine versus crack cocaine users is not declining.

Additional statistics from the NCDAS include:

  • Non-Hispanic black adults experience more cocaine overdoses and deaths than any other demographic
  • Drug abuse involving cocaine, meth, and opioids is highest among young adults age 18 to 25
  • Among adults over 50, amphetamines and cocaine account for six percent of all drug deaths
  • The percentage of cocaine use among adult men is 2.6 percent; it is 1.5 percent among women.

Women get addicted to cocaine faster than men. Research regarding this anomaly found that estradiol seems to expedite dopamine release in the brain, the primary neurotransmitter involved in addiction. In addition, women are more likely to abuse cocaine at earlier ages than men and have more difficulty recovering from cocaine addiction.

What Constitutes an Addiction?

The disease model of addiction asserts that addiction is a biological phenomenon, possibly genetic, that causes rapid and severe changes within the brain. Once cocaine or an addictive drug impacts the brain’s reward system (the dopaminergic pathway), tolerance for the drug increases. Addiction results from the brain being “programmed” to consistently rely on drugs to make addicts feel rewarded for using drugs.

Suppose a user tries to stop using and suffers withdrawal symptoms. In that case, that is a definite sign that the user is addicted and needs professional help to overcome their addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, migraines, depression, paranoia, and severe cravings.

Treatment

Unlike alcoholism and opioid addiction, crack does not have approved medications to help treat the addiction. Treatment for a cocaine addiction involves cognitive behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, psychoeducational tools, and relapse management training. Antidepressants can reduce anxiety and depression.