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Drugs, Inc. Facts: Crack

What You Should Know About Crack

Photo: An addict using a crack pipe

Photo: An addict using a crack pipe (View larger version)

Photo by: Wall to Wall Media Ltd

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  • Cocaine hydrochloride has been around since the late 19th century. Crack didn’t emerge until around 100 years later in the 1980s.

  • Crack is the street name given to the form of cocaine that has been processed to make a rock crystal, which, when heated, produces vapors that are smoked.

  • Crack is produced by dissolving powder cocaine in a mixture of water and baking soda. The mixture is cooked until a solid substance forms. This solid is dried, and then broken into the chunks to be sold as crack cocaine.

  • Smoking crack cocaine introduces the drug to the bloodstream as rapidly as an injection. The intense and immediate high is very short-lived, lasting about fifteen minutes

  • Cocaine floods the brain with the neurotransmitter dopamine by preventing it from being reabsorbed back into the brain cells. It is this excess of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit that creates cocaine’s euphoric effects.

  • Following the intense high, crack users crash hard, commonly experiencing nausea, depression, exhaustion, and an intense craving for the drug.

  • When users smoke crack while drinking alcohol they are unknowingly performing a complex chemical experiment within their bodies. Researchers have found that the human liver combines cocaine and alcohol to produce a third highly toxic substance, cocaethylene which increases the risk of sudden death.

  • Police allege that to skirt laws that prohibit the sale of drug paraphernalia, convenience stores across America sell "love roses”. These 4 inch glass tubes hold fake plastic flowers and are sold as romantic gifts, but in reality are used as makeshift crack pipes.

  • There is also a clear link between crack-cocaine and crime. Murder rates and crack use have been correlated in the United States and arrestees in both the UK and the United States are more likely to be cocaine users than the general population. When crack appeared in America in the early 80s there was an explosion of violence among rival gangs and crack users. By 1989, the crack epidemic was still raging and drug abuse was considered the most important issue facing the nation.

  • The crack epidemic of the 80’s also took it’s toll on the nations health. There was a 28-fold increase in cocaine-related hospital emergency room admissions from 1985 – 1989.
  • Cocaine has caused massive corruption along its trade route including in West Africa, Mexico and Europe. It has financed violent rebel organisations like FARC in Colombia and the Shining Path in Peru.

  • The West African Gold Coast is now being referred to as the “Coke Coast,” due to the vast amounts of cocaine that are flooding through the region financing organized crime.

  • The use of cocaine can activate or silence certain genes by affecting the proteins that give our DNA its structure. Reshaping of our genetic information in this way seems to underlie processes including cancer, seizures, schizophrenia, and depression.

  • Paco is made up of the chemical residue of coca leaves used to make cocaine. It is low grade and toxic and often mixed with substances such as sulphuric acid, kerosene, and rat poison.

  • While the finished cocaine product is shipped to the rich North American and European markets, Paco is sold to poor communities of South America.

  • With an increasing number of cocaine factories appearing on the continent Paco has flooded the market and use has skyrocketed. Users of the drug are witheringly referred to as the “muertos vivientes” – the living dead.

  • Traditionally, crack use was rare outside the United States of America and the United Kingdom, but this also appears to be changing, especially in Latin America and parts of Africa.

  • Street names for crack include hotcakes, rocks, freebase, and cookie.
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