If you have discovered that your adult child is in possession of a glass crack pipe, this is a surefire sign that they have a severe addiction problem. Glass pipes are a common tool that people use in order to smoke recreational drugs. Not all glass pipes are used for crack. Some, in fact, are designed for smoking marijuana. However, there are some fundamental differences in the design of these two different kinds of glass pipes that make them easy to distinguish from each other. Glass crack pipes are one of the most concerning types of paraphernalia, because they indicate that a person is smoking crack or freebasing cocaine.
What is Crack?
Crack is a drug that is produced by altering cocaine. Cocaine is the name for hydrochloride salt in a powdered form. Crack is produced by taking powdered cocaine and combining it with water and another distinct substance, such as sodium bicarbonate (also known as baking soda). The crack producer boils these substances after combining them, and during this process the substances meld together and form a solid. This solid substance can be broken into smaller pieces after it has cooled down, and these solid pieces are known as crack cocaine.
How is crack different from cocaine? Ultimately, the drugs have similar effects. They are both stimulants and essentially have the same chemical components. However, crack is a far more concentrated form of cocaine. As a result, the effects of smoking crack are far more intense than they are for cocaine. They also occur far more rapidly after consuming the substance. The effects of smoking crack also do not last as long as the effects of snorting cocaine. As a result, crack is significantly more addictive than cocaine — a drug that is already known for its high potential for addiction.
Crack is far cheaper than cocaine. This also makes it far easier to develop an addiction to the drug. While many people are unable to afford enough cocaine in order to maintain a habit, crack rocks can be purchased on the street for a negligible price. As a result, crack has destroyed communities that are already suffering from severe economic hardships.
Part of the reason that crack is so much cheaper is that it contains adulterants. The cutting agents that drug dealers use in their crack is often unclear, so people purchasing crack rarely know exactly what they’re consuming. Many crack cutting agents are dangerous and unpredictable substances. Common cutting agents include boric acid, talc, inositol, sucrose, glucose, strychnine, levamisole, lidocaine, procaine, benzocaine, ritalin, ephedrine, and tetracaine. It is also not uncommon for drug dealers to add opioids to their products. When opioids, such as fentanyl or heroin, are combined with crack cocaine, the risk of overdose significantly increases.
What is Freebasing?
Glass crack pipes, despite having the word “crack” in the name, are sometimes used for freebasing cocaine. Freebase cocaine, like crack, is a product that is derived from powdered cocaine. While crack cocaine is produced by mixing cocaine with water and another substance, freebase cocaine is produced by freeing the cocaine base from the salt from that it is usually found in. People producing freebase cocaine do so by extracting the base form of the drug using a chemical agent, such as ammonia.
Freebase cocaine is arguably far more dangerous than powdered cocaine. It has none of the drug’s additive, hydrochloride. Cocaine sulfate, freebase cocaine’s main chemical, is a 100% pure form of cocaine. As a result, it has more powerful effects than traditional cocaine.
Because freebase cocaine is not soluble in water, it is nearly impossible for people to inject the drug. However, freebase cocaine is ideal for individuals who prefer to smoke it, due to its low melting point. It is typically consumed using a small glass pipe, sometimes known as a “crack pipe.”
Health Effects of Smoking Crack and Freebase Cocaine
Smoking is one of the fastest routes of administration, since it results in the drug reaching the bloodstream almost immediately after it is absorbed by the membranes of the lungs. When people freebase cocaine or smoke crack, the drug reaches their brain in approximately 10-15 seconds and the effects begin immediately. The high for a freebase cocaine smoker generally lasts 30 minutes, whereas someone smoking crack can expect to be high for 5-10 minutes.
The high, which is generally characterized by a surge of energy and euphoria, is followed immediately by withdrawal symptoms, sometimes known as a “crash.” During this time, it is common for crack cocaine and freebase cocaine users to experience a number of physical and emotional effects. Common signs and symptoms of crack and freebase cocaine withdrawal include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Excessive sweating
- Decreased sexual function
- Suicidal ideation
- Psychosis (especially with freebase cocaine)
Freebase Cocaine and Crack Addiction
All forms of cocaine are addictive, but freebase cocaine and crack cocaine are even more so. Freebase cocaine’s purity makes it more potent and therefore more addictive. Crack cocaine’s effects are both rapid and short-lived, both of which are factors that make substances more addictive.
Both substances produce physical dependence by releasing large quantities of dopamine. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that reinforces behavior, causes people to experience intense pleasure. The high quantities of dopamine and that freebase and crack cocaine produce make it more difficult for a person to avoid the drug each time they use it. Over time, individuals develop a tolerance to crack that causes them to require more of it to achieve the same high. Furthermore, the withdrawal effects tend to get worse over time. To avoid the symptoms of a crack cocaine crash, people with physical dependence go to great lengths to remain consistently high.
Dangers Freebase Cocaine and Crack Addiction
Over time, abusing crack and freebase cocaine leads to a number of health problems. Users who smoke these substances are likely to develop respiratory problems. Smoking can damage the delicate membranes of the lungs and cause problems with the mouth and throat. Smokers also have a higher likelihood of developing a wide variety of cancers. However, because crack cocaine and freebase cocaine are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, a number of other problems can occur with their body systems. These include:
- Heart problems, including heart palpitations, heart attack, and heart failure
- Asthma and other respiratory issues
Individuals who develop addictions to crack or freebase cocaine are also likely to experience other hardships. Addiction causes people to prioritize obtaining, using, and recovering from drugs above all else. As a result, most people tend to check out of their lives. They may lose their jobs, important relationships, and even their housing. People with addictions face a higher likelihood of financial, legal, health, and interpersonal problems. Unfortunately, as these problems increase, so too does a person’s desire to engage in substance abuse, which is often a form of escapism.
Individuals who smoke crack or freebase cocaine are also at a higher risk for a life-threatening overdose. These potent drugs can tax the systems of the body to such a high degree that they simply stop function. Individuals who engage in polydrug use and combine other substances with cocaine further increase the risk of an overdose. Combining crack cocaine, for instance, with a CNS-depressant opioid like fentanyl has a contradictory effect on the body that can lead to fatal respiratory depression.
Getting Started with Freebase Cocaine and Crack Addiction Recovery
You don’t have to recover alone. Design for Recovery, a sober living home for men located in West Los Angeles, helps young men develop the skills and tools they need to remain sober over the long term. By developing a strong sober social support network and learning new coping strategies, young men in our structured sober living home can begin to lead new lives. We believe that quitting drugs and alcohol is only the beginning of recovery.
How To Overcome Crack Addiction?
At Design for Recovery, young men don’t just put down the crack pipe — they pick up a new way of living. By healing and developing new relationships, enrolling in school, or beginning new careers, our residents are taking steps daily to develop lives that are happy, joyous, and free.
If you’re ready to make a new start, reach out to us today.