What Does Crack Look Like?

Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon, M.D.

on December 7, 2022
Fikret Terzic

Written by: Fikret Terzic MD, MS

Crack cocaine is an illicit freebase form of powder cocaine that appears as yellow or off-white solid clumps or rocks. These rocks numb the tongue or mouth on contact and likely have a bitter or salty taste, as well as an artificial, burnt, or chemical smell.

Cocaine hydrochloride is a natural stimulant drug refined from the leaves of the coca plant in South America through a complex and highly toxic process.

This creates a drug that is widely abused in the United States and in Ohio specifically, despite cocaine’s highly addictive properties and the severe long-term health issues it is known to cause.

What Does Crack Look Like?

In contrast with powder cocaine, which is produced as a glossy white powder, crack cocaine takes the form of off-white or even yellow solid clumps or rocks that are smoked in short glass crack pipes or other paraphernalia.

These crack rocks are not water soluble and may be diluted with a variety of other filler substances, which can have an impact on the drug’s appearance and other physical properties.

Smoking crack is also described as being chemical-like, or as smelling like burning rubber or plastic.

How Is Crack Made?

Crack rocks are a modified form of cocaine powder that can be smoked, rather than used by injection or snorting.

To create or ‘cook’ crack cocaine, the drug is mixed with water and baking soda or another weak base over a heat source. This strips away the hydrochloride salt from the drug, leaving behind the cocaine base as an oily residue that is collected and hardens into crack.

Street Names For Crack

Like other illicit drugs, cocaine possesses a wide range of street names relating to its effects and physical characteristics.

Crack street names include rock, base, black rock, electric kool-aid, gravel, purple caps, scotty, scramble, supercoke, twinkie, window pane, flake, and yam.

Effects Of Crack

The short-term effects of crack cocaine use may include:

  • euphoria from increased dopamine activity in the brain
  • energy, focus, and alertness
  • increased heart rate, breathing, and body temperature
  • elevated blood pressure
  • talkativeness, confidence, or aggression
  • jitters or tremors
  • dilated pupils

Long-term, crack cocaine can cause health effects including:

  • crack cocaine addiction and psychological dependence
  • mental health issues and brain damage
  • psychosis
  • lung injuries
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • sleep problems
  • premature aging
  • unhealthy weight loss and malnutrition

Crack Overdose

In many cases, using crack cocaine triggers severe adverse reactions and side effects known as cocaine toxicity, or crack cocaine overdose.

These effects can involve mental health crises, psychotic episodes, seizures, and various types of cardiovascular failure including stroke, cardiac arrest, delirium, nausea/vomiting, and seizures.

Cocaine toxicity is especially likely to occur when cocaine is used along with other drugs including alcohol, opioids, and other common drugs of abuse.

Crack Withdrawal

Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms occur when regular crack cocaine use stops, leading to psychological symptoms that may include:

  • cravings
  • agitation
  • depression
  • muscle aches
  • fatigue
  • increased appetite
  • suicidal thoughts

To prevent relapse and ensure personal safety, medical detox programs and formal crack addiction treatment services are strongly advised for anyone who is considering going through the process of cocaine withdrawal and recovery.

To find out if our inpatient substance abuse treatment center is a good fit for you or a loved one, please contact Ohio Recovery Center today.

  1. City of New York — Cocaine Abuse & Addiction https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/cocaine-abuse-and-addiction.page
  2. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2020-06/Cocaine-2020_1.pdf
  3. National Institute On Drug Abuse (NIDA) — What is Cocaine? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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