Crack and Cocaine – What’s the Difference?

Crack And Cocaine

Cocaine is one of the most common illegal drugs on the street. The damage it does to society as well as individuals and families is no secret. In 2018, over 14,000 Americans died of complications involving cocaine use. One major derivative of cocaine is crack. In fact, the term “crack-cocaine” is often used interchangeably by members of the public. Here, we will clear up some common questions about these drugs, including:

Difference Between Crack And Cocaine

Cocaine comes from the coca plant that is native to South America. The drug is typically refined into a white powder and sold on the black market. Cocaine is a stimulant, and is normally snorted or rubbed into the gums. Other users will process the cocaine into a crystallized “rock” for smoking. This smoked version of cocaine is called crack.

How Do Crack And Cocaine Affect The Body?

When cocaine is used for the first time, the user will receive a sudden jolt of energy and increased sensory perception. The effect of cocaine is very quick, but also tends to wear off quickly. Most cocaine highs last no longer than 30 minutes. Other short term side effects may include:

  • Hypersensitivity to lights and sound
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Extreme wakefulness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Crack users experience the same energy and side effects. However, smoking introduces more substance to the bloodstream quicker. In turn, the brain produces reward signals through dopamine much faster. Like regular cocaine, though, the effects wear off after only a few minutes.

Both crack and cocaine are highly addictive substances. When patients first use cocaine, the drug activates the pleasure/reward centers of the brain producing large amounts of dopamine. This is the brain’s “reward chemical”. However, the drug also “hijacks” the brain, making it depend on more substance to function. Instead of sending out pleasure signals for use, the brain begins sending out distress signals for lack of use. This is called withdrawal. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Severe headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Patients with withdrawal symptoms receive appropriate support. Crack/cocaine SUD has devastating effects on physical health. Binge use is common among cocaine users unfortunately, which only exasperates the danger and potential damage done. Many patients report heart problems and Parkinson’s disease after long term use. Heart problems are common, and patients can quickly overdose on cocaine or crack. Other potential problems include paranoia, severe hallucinations, malnourishment, and sleep disorders. Snorting cocaine can lead to sinus damage, loss of taste and smell, and frequent nosebleeds. Crack users can experience respiratory problems, asthma, and chronic cough.

Crack And Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Ideally you want to treat cocaine addiction with the care of qualified medical professionals. Programs like ours give patients the comprehensive physical and mental treatment they need. This gives patients the best chance to avoid relapse. Treatment consists of a medically supervised detox, followed by long term intensive therapy.


The first step of treatment is to flush out the unwanted substance from the body. Your care team will monitor your vital signs, and may administer medication to lessen withdrawal symptoms. Our goal is to keep you safe and comfortable so you can focus on recovery. Depending on your needs, detox can be either inpatient or outpatient. Outpatient detox usually offers a stay at a sober living house, where you have quicker access to care if needed. Detox typically lasts around 1-2 weeks.


Once detox is complete (if necessary), you will enter into either a residential phase of treatment. You receive individual and group therapy along with a variety of targeted groups for specific needs, depending on your particular set of challenges. You may also attend 12 step meetings, as well as enrichment activities such as art therapy or exercise programs. We will help you identify triggers and understand your addiction. More than that, ARIA will help you heal and move past addiction into becoming your best self. Make no mistake, recovery takes time but with some willingness and the right help you can do it!

Aria Can Help With Crack And Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one live with crack or cocaine SUD, contact us today. SUD is a medical condition, not a moral failure. You are not at fault, and you deserve compassionate, expert care. We accept most major insurance plans, and can help you find payment options that work for you. Let us help you regain the fulfilling life you deserve!