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Cocaine Free Base and Crack

Traditional cocaine free base is smoked through a water pipe in which the substance was originally produced or sprinkled on a marijuana or tobacco cigarette and smoked. Crack is sprinkled on a marijuana or tobacco cigarette or mixed with either of these substances and smoked in a pipe. See figure 7-11.

Free basing is a process of converting cocaine hydrochloride (HCL) back to cocaine base for smoking. Traditional free basing involves heating ether or other flammable solvents as a critical part of the extraction process. This procedure creates an extremely hazardous situation in which risks of explosion and fire are quite high. Crack, on the other hand, eliminates the use of flammable solvents and the risks of explosion and fire.

1. Free base procedure:

Baking soda or ammonia plus ether, are added to water and cocaine HCL. The mixture is heated, evaporating the ether, resulting in cocaine free base.

2. Crack procedure:

Baking soda or ammonia, and water, are added to cocaine HCL. The mixture is heated and cooled, then filtered to collect the crystals. The results of the process is cocaine base (crack) (fig. 7-12).

Figure 7-12.-Crack cocaine.


These processes do not remove adulteran such as lidocaine, procaine, and so on.

Upon inhalation, both free base and crack are rapidly absorbed by the lungs and carried to the brain within a matter of a few seconds. The user experiences a sudden very intense rush with an equally intense high or euphoria lasting from 2 to 20 minutes. The euphoria suddenly subsides into a feeling of restlessness, irritability, and, in some cases of sustained use, posteuphoria depression. This posteuphoria period may be so uncomfortable that free base and crack smokers continue smoking, often in marathon binges, until they become exhausted or run out of cocaine.

Cocaine smoking as either free base or crack is a much more serious physical and psychiatric problem than inhaling (snorting) cocaine HCL. An enormous craving results from the rapid alternating euphorias and depressions, and the smoker tends to become compulsive and less able to control the amounts of drug used. Consequently, dosage and frequency of use tend to increase rapidly. Cocaine smokers are quite likely to develop extreme dependency in a short amount of time. Overdoses can result in fatal cardio-respiratory arrest.

Symptoms of cocaine smoking include weight loss, increased heart rate and blood pressure, depression, and paranoia. Hallucinations, manic depressive, or paranoid psychoses may be encountered in heavy users. In addition, law enforcement, paramedical, and medical personnel should be aware that the potential for violence and suicidal behavior are quite high among individuals who are either under the influence of the drug or, during the posteuphoric period, develop withdrawal symptoms including chills, tremors, muscle pains, overeating, lethargy, and acute clinical depression.


Ecstacy is the designer drug of the 1980s. Until 01 July 1985, ecstacy was just such a drug. Ecstacy has since been reclassified as a Schedule I drug, or one that has "no currently accepted medical use, and for which there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug." The designer drug ecstacy is in fact methylenedioxymethamphetamine or MDMA for short.

Ecstacy is not a new drug, for it has been around for over 75 years. Initially it was meant to be used for appetite suppression, but because of its side effects such as nausea and vomiting, it was never marketed. It can be found on the streets under the names XTC, ecstacy, Adam, Eve, Mdm, M&M, X, essence, the yuppie drug, Zan Venus and E.

Users of ecstacy claim to achieve feelings of selfconfidence, expanded mental power, spirituality, love, or just good feelings. And while some users hallucinate, most experience distortions of reality. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of ecstacy 's use is the very fact it is a street drug. This type of drug is rarely pure, has no quality control during manufacturing, and can have from no amount of MDMA to any amount in any pill of ecstacy.

Any amount of MDMA can produce ill effects and

physical or psychological manifestations (fig. 7-13).

MDMA may produce psychotic states that last for weeks. Since it alters the physiology of the brain, depression may occur for months after use. The drug may release suppressed emotions and result in a bad trip.

Ecstacy has the effects similar to that of LSD plus an amphetamine. Its desired effects are short-lived and may leave the user with long-term consequences, especially with repeated use.

Ecstacy can produce addiction in a very short period of time. Use of the drug is mainly found in, but not limited to, adolescents and young adults.


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