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The chemical cocaine hydrochloride is commonly known as cocaine. Some users chemically process cocaine in order to remove the hydrochloride. This process is called "freebasing" and makes the drug more potent. "Crack" is a solid form of freebased cocaine. It is called "crack" because it snaps and cracks when heated and smoked.
What's new about crack?
Since crack is an already prepared form of freebased cocaine, the user does not have to buy the equipment or be exposed to the explosive chemicals associated with freebasing. Crack is most often packaged in vials or plastic bags and sold in small quantities, usually 300-500mg or enough for two to three inhalations.
Traditionally, cocaine was a rich man's drug, due to the large expense of a cocaine habit.
Now, crack is being sold at prices low enough that even adolescents can afford to buy it. But, this is misleading, since once a person is addicted to cocaine, his "habit" often increases, and so does his expense.
What are crack's adverse effects?
As with any street drug, what is sold may not be what it is claimed to be. Predicting side effects is difficult when the actual contents are not known. Life-threatening reactions have been reported whether it's the first, the 100th, or any other time crack is used. You do not have to overdose on crack to die from it.
In addition, if the initial experience leads to continued use, other adverse effects include the rapid development of tolerance, addiction, and all the social problems that can come from an expensive drug habit.
How is crack used?
The same way that freebase is used, namely, by placing the substance in a glass pipe (or hash pipe) with a fine mesh screen under it, then heating it and inhaling the vapors.
The vapors of the freebase are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and transported to the brain within 10-15 seconds. One inhalation will produce a degree of intoxication usually lasting 10-15 minutes.
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