Cocaine & Crack

White, Wash, Toot, Stones, Snow, Rocks, Percy, Pebbles, Freebase, Crack, Coke, Ching, Charlie, Chang, C
It can give a powerful high that can leave you feeling really down

Powder cocaine (also called coke), freebase and crack are all forms of cocaine. They’re all powerful stimulants, with short-lived effects – which means that they temporarily speed up the way your mind and body work, but the effects are short-lived. Both ‘freebase’ cocaine (powder cocaine that’s been prepared for smoking) and ‘crack’ cocaine (a ‘rock’ like form of cocaine) can be smoked. This means that they reach the brain very quickly, while snorted powder cocaine gets to the brain more slowly.

All types of cocaine are addictive, but by reaching the brain very quickly freebase or crack tend to have a much stronger effect and be more addictive than snorted powder cocaine. Injecting any form of cocaine will also reach the brain more quickly but this has serious additional risks, including damaging veins and spreading blood bourne virsues, such as HIV and Hep C.

Here are the main effects and risks of taking cocaine:

  • It can make you feel on top of the world, very confident, alert and awake, but some people can get over-confident, arrogant and aggressive and end up taking very careless risks.
  • It raises the body’s temperature, makes the heart beat faster and reduces your appetite.
  • When the effects start to wear off, people experience a long ‘comedown’, when they feel depressed and run down. This crash can happen for days afterwards.
questionmarkWhat does cocaine look like?
  • ‘Coke’ is a white powder. ‘Crack’ is a form of cocaine made into small lumps or rocks that makes a cracking noise when burnt. ‘Freebase’ cocaine is specially prepared ‘coke’ and is a crystal-like powder; it is less common than 'coke' and 'crack'.
  • On average, a gram of coke powder generally costs £42. A crack rock costs between £10 and £20.  Crack is sometimes sold cheaper by the slice or as a 'clubbing rock' for about £10.
How do people take cocaine?

Coke is divided into lines and snorted up the nose. It is not easily smoked, unless specially prepared into ‘freebase’ or 'crack' cocaine. A rock of crack is about the size of a raisin. Like ‘freebase’, it's usually smoked in a pipe, glass tube, plastic bottle or in foil.

Both powder and crack forms of cocaine can be prepared to make a solution of cocaine for injecting. Sharing needles and syringes or other injecting equipment, when injecting, runs the risk of the injector catching or spreading HIV and hepatitis C infection.

There is also the risk that veins may be damaged and of an abscess or blood clot developing.

Taking cocaine makes users feel on top of the world, wide-awake, confident and on top of their game – but some people are over-confident on it and so may take very careless risks. Its effect is much like speed (amphetamines), but is usually stronger and doesn't last as long.

It can also have other effects:

  • Raising the body’s temperature
  • Making the heart beat faster
  • Reducing feelings of hunger
  • After a big night on cocaine, it's not unusual for people to feel like they've got the flu.

The effects of crack smoking are virtually immediate, peaking for about two minutes and lasting for only about 10 minutes.

When snorting coke it takes longer to peak but the effects still don’t last that long, only around 20-30 minutes.

When the effects of any cocaine use start to wear off there can be a very strong temptation to take more, particularly with the long ‘come down’, the crash period sometimes lasting for days afterwards.

What are the risks?

There are many serious risks with taking cocaine. Here’s what it could do to you.

  • exclamationmarkCocaine users have died from overdoses. High doses can raise the body's temperature, cause convulsions, a heart attack and heart failure. Risk of overdosing increases if cocaine is mixed with other drugs or alcohol.
  • Over time, snorting cocaine will seriously damage the cartilage in your nose that separates the nostrils; and it is not unknown for heavy users to lose their cartilage and end up with just one really big nostril and a mis-shapen nose.
  • Cocaine is highly risky for anybody with high blood pressure or a heart condition. Even perfectly healthy, young people can have a fit or heart attack after taking too much.
  • Using cocaine a lot makes people feel depressed and run down. It can lead to serious problems with anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks.
  • Cocaine can bring previous mental health problems to the surface. If a relative has had mental health problems, there might be an increased risk for you.
  • Taking cocaine when you're pregnant can damage your baby. It may cause miscarriage, premature labour and low birth weight.
  • Regularly smoking crack can cause breathing problems and pains in the chest.
  • Frequent users find they begin to crave more – so it can become an expensive habit to keep.
  • Injecting drugs can damage veins and cause ulcers and gangrene. Sharing needles or other injecting equipment can spread HIV and hepatitis infections.
  • It's easier to overdose if you’re injecting cocaine.
  • ‘Speedballing’, injecting a mixture of cocaine and heroin, can have fatal results.
  • Heavy crack users may take heroin to try to dull their cravings, so they may get hooked on heroin as well
  • A form of heroin, called white heroin, is easily mistaken for cocaine and people have died or been hospitalisation after snorting white heroin, which they thought was cocaine. Heroin is active in smaller doses than cocaine, so if you mistake it for cocaine, you are more likely to overdose, experience respiratory failure (this is what it’s called when your breathing stops) and possibly die.
Cocaine and alcohol

Using cocaine with alcohol (or other drugs) can substantially increase risk of side-effects. Alcohol and cocaine together can be particularly dangerous, as they mix together in the body to produce a toxic chemical, called cocaethylene.

What is cocaine cut with?

Recent police seizures of ‘street’ powder cocaine had an average purity of just 32%. A wrap of cocaine powder can be cut with many things, such as sugar or starch, but benzocaine is most common. Benzocaine is a local anaesthetic which can produce a ‘numbing’ effect similar to cocaine, but without the cocaine ‘high’. The purity of ‘crack’ depends on the purity of the cocaine used originally to produce the ‘crack’.  However, recent police seizures had an average purity of 30%.

Can you get addicted to cocaine?

Cocaine is very addictive and it can be difficult to resist the craving for more. This powerful craving can develop because cocaine can change the way your brain works. Although the powerful psychological dependence that can easily develop is more of a problem than the physical withdrawal symptoms, people who stop using can experience low moods and feel very rough, and this can also tempt them to take more cocaine.

lawiconCocaine and the law
  • ‘Coke’, ‘freebase’ and ‘crack’ are all Class A drugs – that means they’re illegal to have, give away or sell.
  • Possession can get you up to seven years in jail.
  • Supplying someone else, including your friends, can get you life and an unlimited fine.
What if you’re caught?
  • If the Police catch you with cocaine, they’ll always take some action. This could include a formal caution, arrest and prosecution.
  • A conviction for a drug-related offence could have a serious impact. It can stop you visiting certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.
lightbulbDid you know?
  • Like drinking and driving, driving when high is illegal - and you can still be unfit to drive the day after using cocaine. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
  • Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises.

Drugs & Alcohol

Legal Highs

Legal Highs’ are substances which produce the same, or similar effects, to drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy, but are not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

They are considered illegal to sell, supply or advertise for “human consumption” under current medicines legislation. To get round this sellers will refer to them as research chemicals, plant food, bath crystals or pond cleaner.

There are a large number of legal highs, but here are a few key facts:

  • Just because a drug is legal to possess, it doesn’t mean it’s safe.
  • It is becoming increasingly clear that ‘legal highs’ are far from harmless and can have similar health risks to drugs like cocaine, ecstasy and speed.
  • Risks of ‘legal highs’ can include reduced inhibitions, drowsiness, excited or paranoid states, coma, seizures, and death.
  • These risks are increased if used with alcohol or other drugs.
  • It is likely that drugs sold as a ‘legal high’ may actually contain one or more substances that are actually illegal to possess. What you may think is a legal high that you can’t get in trouble for having, could be something completely different, and in fact a class B drug.

Worried About Someone?

Not all drugs are addictive, and everybody that uses drugs doesn’t become dependent. When drug use becomes problematic it can lead to addiction and signs this has happen can include:

  • The need for regular use.
  • Constantly have drugs in their possession.
  • Strange and ‘out of character’ behavior
  • Mood Swings
  • Physical changes like Weight loss
  • Sometimes people don’t recognise their drug use has become a problem. They refuse to believe that they are addicted or dependent. If you think you think a friend has a problem and you want to help them, think about how you're going to approach it and what you’re going to say?

    It could be a sensitive subject for them and you don’t what to looking like you’re getting. They may not listen to you at first but don’t let this put you off. The best thing that you can do is to be there for them, to support and encourage them to change. You can also help by keeping your friend away from situations that can trigger or expose them to drug use.

    Some people are able to overcome their issues with drugs before any serious harm has been done to them, or their family and friends. Other users have to hit rock bottom before they can see the harm and damage they are doing and start addressing their drug use.