Crack (Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior)
Crack (sometimes called crack-cocaine) is an illicit drug, the smokable form of COCAINE, made by adding the bases ammonia or baking soda and water to cocaine hydrochloride. The white powder illicitly purchased as cocaine is in the hydrochloride form; it cannot be smoked, because it is destroyed at the temperatures required for smoking. Therefore, in order to be used by the smoked route, cocaine must be converted to the base state. A mixture is made and heated to remove the hydrochloride, resulting in a pellet-sized cake-like solid substance that can be smoked. This form of cocaine is inexpensive, available for purchase "on the street," and is called "crack," because of the cracks formed in the solid as it dries.
Although crack can be smoked in tobacco cigarettes or marijuana cigarettes, it is generally smoked in a special crack pipe. In its simplest form, this is a glass tube with a hole at the top of one end and a hole at the other end through which the smoke is inhaled. The crack pellet is placed on fine wire mesh screens that cover the hole distal to the smoker and a flame is applied directly to the pellet. Soda bottles, small liquor bottles, etc. are all used to manufacture crack pipes. They have in common the use of fine mesh screens so that the crack is not lost as it melts. Temperatures of approximately 200°F (93°C) are most efficient in providing the largest amount of cocaine to the user. Higher temperatures destroy more of the cocaine.
Smoking cocaine began with the use of FREE-BASE cocaine, prepared by its users from the cocaine hydrochloride illicitly purchased by them. Soon after this form of cocaine had achieved its popularity, single doses of cocaine already prepared for smoking (i.e., crack), became available through the illicit drug market. Unlike the process for forming freebase cocaine, the crack manufacturing process does not rid the cocaine of its adulterants. Smoking cocaine rapidly became a popular route of administration once crack became readily available, since it was so convenient to use. Blood levels peak rapidly when cocaine is smoked, because of efficient respiratory absorption, and the smoked route of cocaine administration yields effects (peak, duration of effect, half-life) comparable to the intravenous route of administration. This means that the smoker of cocaine can achieve rapid onset of effect, including a cocaine "rush" and substantial cocaine blood levels, and can do this repeatedly using a more socially acceptable route of administrationne that requires none of the PARAPHERNALIA associated with hardcore illicit drug use (e.g., syringes, needles, etc.).The more rapid the onset of the drug effect, the more likely it is that the drug will be abused. Thus, although the effects of smoking crack are no different than the effects of cocaine by any other route, the ease with which the drug can be taken, combined
From a financial perspective, crack is more desirable for both the buyer and the seller. A gram of cocaine hydrochloride costs approximately 50 to 60 dollars. This gram can be turned into 10 to 25 crack pellets, each selling for 2 to 20 dollars. Thus, a gram of cocaine can generate a substantial profit for the seller, and, as well, is available in single-dose units to anyone with only a few dollars to spend.
(SEE ALSO: Coca Paste; Freebasing; ; Street Value)
INCIARDI, J. A. (1991). Crack-cocaine in Miami. In S. Schober & C. Schade (Eds.), The epidemiology of cocaine use and abuse. NIDA Research Monograph No. 110. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.
SIEGEL, R. (1982). Cocaine smoking. Journal of Psycho-active Drugs, 14, 271-359.
MARIAN W. FISCHMAN