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What You Need to Know About Drugs: Cocaine and Crack

What It Is:

Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the dried leaves of the coca plant. Crack cocaine is a form of the drug that gives a very quick, intense high.

Crack is made by cooking cocaine powder with baking soda, then breaking it into small pieces called rocks. It got its name because it crackles when it is heated and smoked.

Crack cocaine looks like white or tan pellets (sort of like gerbil or dry cat food). Both cocaine and crack are very addictive — and extremely dangerous.

Sometimes Called: coke, rock, snow, blow, white, toot, nose candy, base, flake, powder, basa, smack
How It's Used: Cocaine is inhaled or snorted through the nose or injected into a vein. Crack is smoked in a pipe.
What It Does:

Cocaine is a stimulant, which means that it produces a fast, intense feeling of power and energy. Then it wears off (crack wears off very quickly) and the user feels depressed and nervous and craves more of the drug to feel good again.

Cocaine is so addictive that someone can get hooked after trying it just once.

Snorting cocaine can damage the septum between the nostrils, causing a hole in the middle of the nose.

Cocaine makes the heart beat faster, and blood pressure and body temperature rise. It can make a person's heart beat abnormally. Cocaine is so dangerous that using it just once can cause a heart attack or stroke that can be fatal.

Reviewed by: Ryan Redman, MD
Date reviewed: August 2007

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