For the most part, crack and cocaine is used interchangeably, with crack deemed only as a slang term that is used to refer to cocaine in general. It may, however, be helpful for parents to know more about the form of cocaine that is crack. The term cocaine normally conjures up images of white crystalline powder that is snorted by its users. Crack, however, assumes a different form altogether.
Crack is the end result of processing cocaine hydrochloride with ammonia or baking soda, and water; this process yields a rock crystal. Crack is used by heating the rock crystal, and inhaling the cocaine vapor or smoke that is produced.
The vapor then goes directly into the lungs. According to an article on the National Institute on Drug Abuse, inhaled cocaine is absorbed in to the bloodstream as rapidly as injecting it directly into the blood stream. The effects of cocaine, which include increased energy and mental alertness, and reduced fatigue, become more intense when cocaine is absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to the brain faster.
Crack cocaine, therefore, has the ability to deliver a stronger high when compared to snorting powder. The high that is produced by inhaling cocaine, however, is shorter. It may last only between 5 to 10 minutes. Since the high brought about by crack does not last long, the user needs to take it again. This causes abusers to binge, defined as taking the drug repeatedly, and at increasingly higher doses, within a relatively short period of time. This binging leads to irritability, restlessness and anxiety.