Crack cocaine is the free based form of cocaine that can be smoked. Freebase is the conjugate base form of an amine, as opposed to its conjugate acid form. An amine is usually an alkaloid like cocaine or morphine. Crack cocaine is an appealing drug for addicts because it offers a short, intense high. Crack cocaine is an easier to manufacture freebase form of cocaine. The main difference between cocaine and crack cocaine is that cocaine has its hydrochloride removed. When this process occurs, it increases the melting point and makes the drug smokable.
The process of making crack cocaine involves dissolving powder cocaine in hot water, adding sodium bicarbonate, boiling the solution to separate out the solids, and cooling the separated mixture, and cutting the solids into rocks. Most of the cocaine that is coming into Canada and the United States originates from Columbia, Bolivia, and Peru. Cocaine is smuggled into Canada from the United States and Mexico.
Crack cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug stimulant drug made from powder cocaine. In its purest form, crack cocaine rocks appear like an off-white nugget with jagged edges and is slightly denser than candle wax. Although, purer forms of crack cocaine resemble a hard plastic in crystalline form. The crack cocaine that is sold on the streets may be adulterated with other substances, and this increases the risk of overdose.
Drug addiction treatment is the best option to treat crack cocaine addiction. Most crack addictions begin with powder cocaine because the addict wants a quicker high and intense effect. Unfortunately, crack cocaine addiction leads to devastating effects causing the addict to want to use the drug frequently. Moreover, a crack cocaine addiction becomes progressively worse and financially destructive because of the frequency of use. Substance abuse treatment programs across Canada are equipped to treat all severity of crack cocaine addiction.
How is Crack Cocaine Used and How Does it Affect the Body?
Most crack cocaine is smoked and inhaled into the lungs, and the drug then enters the person’s bloodstream. The drug acts upon a midbrain structure called the ventral tegmental area where dopamine is. Crack cocaine, like other drugs, interferes with dopamine interrupting the cycle of how dopamine works in the brain. Crack cocaine prevents the normal reabsorption process of dopamine, and it builds up and continues to stimulate the receptors creating a lingering feeling of euphoria. Because crack cocaine is smoked, it reaches the brain much faster and causes a high within five minutes. However, the effects of crack cocaine only last about 30 to 60 minutes creating the intense need to use more.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine system, its reward pathway, is stimulated by all types of reinforcing stimuli, like drugs. This part of the brain also regulates emotions and motivation, and cocaine use drastically disrupts these functions creating mood swings. All drugs of abuse interfere with the normal communication process within the brain. Cocaine acts by binding to the dopamine receptors and blocking the removal of dopamine, causing it to build up, creating euphoric effects. Crack cocaine was developed as a cheaper alternative to cocaine, making it more affordable and accessible to users.
Additionally, the effects of crack cocaine vary depending on the purity of the cocaine used to manufacture it. Yet, the effects are similar to powder cocaine and include euphoria, heightened alertness, dilated pupils, increased heart rate, and intense cravings. Smoking crack cocaine causes these effects to take hold more quickly and intensely. The risk of overdose is also extremely high, and the long-term impact on the body includes mood changes, irritability, restlessness, depression, anxiety, paranoia, and hallucinations.
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What is crack cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that is created from the powder version of cocaine. The drug produces immediate, intense euphoric effects and is inexpensive and easy to produce. Crack cocaine looks like a white rock or off-white and varies its size and shape. The drug is commonly smoked in a pipe and inhaled as it delivers large quantities to the lungs.
Why is crack cocaine so addictive?
Crack cocaine is so addictive because it is inhaled through the lungs producing euphoric effects much more quickly. The effects of the drug are shorter than snorting powder cocaine, which causes the users to crave more and seek out more of the drug. When smoking cocaine, it enters the bloodstream much faster, reaching the brain quicker. Addiction takes hold almost immediately.
How do you treat a crack cocaine addiction?
Treating crack cocaine addiction begins with a detox to manage withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal symptoms are not severe and do not usually require medical assistance. Following detox, the step in treatment should involve long-term residential drug rehab. Generally, most crack cocaine addicts have been through treatment more than once, yet it is often a short-term program. Lengthier treatment is more beneficial.
How do you know if someone is addicted to crack cocaine?
Initially, you can tell if someone is addicted to crack cocaine because of the presence of the drug, as it is easy to spot. Crack paraphernalia is also common, such as soft drink cans, glass bottles, plastic water bottles, glass pipes, and empty asthma inhalers used to smoke the drug. Other indicators include extreme bursts of energy, fatigue, changed sleep habits, appetite, changes, and oral health problems.
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What are the Common Street Names for Crack Cocaine and Its Legal Status in Canada?
Some of the common street names for crack cocaine include various terms as the names have changed over the year. However, some of the street names are Apple Jacks, Badrock, Candy, Crumbs, Dice, Rocks, Fat Bags, Nuggets, Hard Rock, Hotcakes, Jelly Beans, and Piles. Across Canada, the street names for crack cocaine are not the same in every region.
Within Canada, crack cocaine is illegal and is listed as a Schedule I drug under the Canadian Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Possession of the drug can result in seven years imprisonment, while trafficking of crack cocaine is also a criminal offence and can result in life imprisonment. A lesser degree conviction for possession would include a $1,000 to $2,000 fine and between six months to one year in prison. Impaired driving under the influence of crack cocaine is a criminal offence, and the penalties are similar to alcohol-impaired driving.
If a person is arrested for possession of a controlled substance, they are tried in a Canadian Criminal Court. The Crown must prove there was a possession of a substance, the substance is a controlled substance, and the possession of a substance was not authorized. The prices of cocaine and crack cocaine change. For example, the cost of 3.5 grams of cocaine is around $120 to $150, but this changes in each region of Canada. The cost of 1/10 grams of crack cocaine is $10 to $25, making it a cheaper alternative to powder cocaine.
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The History of Crack Cocaine in Canada
The history of crack cocaine in Canada is similar to that of the United States. It became a popular and widely used drug in the 1980s within the United States, but it was not until the early 1990s when it gained traction in Canada. According to information outlining illicit drug trends in Canada between 1980 and 2001. Overall, Canada’s cocaine situation has increased substantially, and its availability has become more apparent in smaller communities across the country. Throughout the 1980s in Canada, cocaine use in the country was still trending upwards and was becoming the drug of choice after cannabis.
When the media began to glamourize the drug in the early 1980s, it creates an increased demand for cocaine. Even the RCMP could not gauge how much cocaine was being used among Canadians at that time. However, it was estimated there were approximately 250,000 cocaine users in Canada consuming at least one gram per person per year. The availability of cocaine increased in Canada as the price of cocaine decreased. In 1986, the RCMP saw the first development of crack cocaine sold in Toronto for $10 to $15 per 0.1 grams. The average purity level of the drug in 1988 was 90%, and many young drug users were producing it themselves.
By the mid-1980s, crack cocaine had become a major problem across the United States. Within Canada, most of the major crack cocaine seizures occurred close to the U.S. border in cities like Windsor, Ontario, and North Portal, Saskatchewan. Most of the crack cocaine found in Canada was coming from the United States. Between 1986 and 1989, the main center of crack cocaine availability was Toronto, Ontario. Metropolitan Toronto Police, between 1987 and 1988, saw a 310% increase in crack cocaine seizures throughout the city. Between 1986 and 1988, crack cocaine became popular in cities like Windsor, Halifax, and Winnipeg, and it was not until 1989 where it was discovered in Quebec City and Montreal.
In 1989, cocaine became the primary drug of choice for most regions of Canada, and it was available virtually everywhere across Canada at very high purity levels. Between 1988 and 1989, there was a 268% increase in the amount of cocaine seized within Canada. According to most RCMP intelligence, cocaine availability in Canada continued to increase into the beginning of 1991 and thrived throughout most of the 1990s. It was not until 1995, crack cocaine had established itself in Canada. Crack cocaine is easily produced in Canada and commonly made by Jamaican drug cartels from imported cocaine.
Crack cocaine was popularized because of its effects and affordability, and high profitability. The crack cocaine epidemic in the United States had a devastating effect on black communities within inner cities, causing increased addiction, deaths, and drug-related crimes. Within the United States, the drug first appeared in Miami, where Caribbean immigrants taught adolescents the technique of converting cocaine into crack cocaine. The connection to Canada was that most of the powder cocaine was coming through the United States from being smuggled from cocaine-producing countries.
In Alberta, for example, cocaine was easier to buy than alcohol and had a devastating impact on workers living on the fringes of oil patch boomtowns. During the boom periods in Alberta within the oil and gas sector, northern communities found themselves increasingly swamped by cases of alcoholism and drug abuse. People working in the oil and gas sector more than doubled the permanent population in some communities. Overall, the popularity of the drug is seen in large and small communities across the country. Crack cocaine is a dangerous drug that causes deadly addictions requiring extensive substance abuse treatment.
What Are the Long-Term and Short-Term Effects of Crack Cocaine?
The effects and high produced from smoking crack cocaine are more immediate but may only last for five to ten minutes. The short-term physiological effects include constricted blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure. Large amounts of the drug intensify the high but can lead to erratic, dangerous behaviour. Most crack cocaine users report feeling restlessness, irritability, anxiety, panic, and paranoia. Some of the more severe medical complications include cardiovascular effects, disturbances in heart rhythm and heart attack, neurological effects, headaches, seizures, strokes, and coma.
Repeated use and exposure to crack cocaine causes the brain to adapt, and the reward pathways become accustomed to the drug. The circuits in the brain involved in stress become increasingly sensitive, leading to mood swings and withdrawal. Unfortunately, the combined effects and negative emotions lead to drug-seeking behaviour to maintain the feel-good feeling. Most crack cocaine users take the drug on binges, and it is used repeatedly and at increasingly higher doses. The higher frequency of use intensifies the adverse psychological effects. Crack cocaine binges can last days or even weeks.
Additionally, crack cocaine causes damage to many other organs in the body. Most crack cocaine users lose their appetite and experience significant weight loss and malnourishment. Excessive use causes significant chest pain and increases the risk of a heart attack. Crack cocaine use is also linked with an increased risk of stroke and inflammation of the heart muscle. The biggest hurdle for most crack cocaine users is overcoming chronic relapse and finding a drug rehabilitation program that works. Crack cocaine is so addictive the psychological urgers completely overpower the individual, causing relapse.
According to an article published by The JAMA Network, “The physiological and psychoactive effects of cocaine are similar regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or crack cocaine” (Conclusion). It goes on to note that there is significant evidence showing a greater abuse liability, the greater propensity for dependence, and more severe consequences when cocaine is smoked. Furthermore, cocaine that is snorted is a gateway to smoking cocaine.
- Mental alertness
- Increased extroversion
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced sleep
- Psychological and physical dependence
- Mood disturbances
- Respiratory failure
- Heart attack
Crack Cocaine Overdose, How Does It Happen?
The signs of a crack cocaine overdose are similar to the effects of crack cocaine, which can make it difficult to notice. However, like any other drug overdose, it is essential to receive immediate medical help. Initially, the drug user may experience agitation and will act upset and uncomfortable, and may become incoherent. As this could be usual behaviour for someone addicted to drugs, it becomes exaggerated when they overdose. There is also an intense feeling of being itchy that is more so than usual as they are unable to stop scratching.
Like other forms of substance abuse overdose, there is usually fever and sweating. They may also complete about being too hot or too cold and could begin to sweat profusely. Crack cocaine affects many systems within the body and those that control body temperature. There is also a cold sweat, which is a strong indicator of an overdose. Crack cocaine directly impacts the respiratory system and cause cough, shortness of breath, and severe chest pains with lung trauma and bleeding. A sign of a crack cocaine overdose may involve coughing up black mucus.
Crack cocaine overdose causes irregular heartbeat, and the heart begins to beat extremely fast when they overdose. The feeling is like the heart beating so fast it feels as if it will explode. Also, someone overdosing because of crack cocaine will experience psychosis and begin to act irrationally and even psychotically. Many of these signs are followed by unconsciousness, cardiac arrest, stroke, and or coma. If you suspect someone has overdosed on crack cocaine, it is essential to contact 911.
Common doses of cocaine vary between 10 to 120 mg, and the minimal lethal doses are estimated at 1.2 grams. However, many people have overdosed and died for far less, like 5 to 30 grams. According to the Government of Canada, western Canada continues to be the most impacted region for substance abuse overdose. Between January to June 2020, 70% of stimulant toxicity deaths involve cocaine, and between January 2016 to June 2020, there were 9,869 stimulant-related poisoning and hospitalizations.
Crack Cocaine Addiction, How Does It Happen?
Crack cocaine is a highly addictive drug, and someone who uses it becomes physically and psychologically addicted. Crack cocaine, like other drugs, chemically alters the part of the brain called the reward system, and the euphoric feeling lasts about 15 minutes, and the drug user chases this feeling continuously. The brain responds to the overload of dopamine, and it drug user becomes less sensitive to it and requires more crack cocaine to maintain a normal feeling. Eventually, they cannot stop using the drug because of the physical dependence and psychological feelings it has created.
The length of time it takes for someone to become addicted varies from person to person. However, most addiction is paired with some form of physical or psychological trauma. Yet, many other addicts begin from recreational drug use or experimentation. Generally, it does not take much to become addicted to crack cocaine because the drug provides something the individual feels they are missing.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of addiction include secretive behaviour, lying, stealing, financial unpredictability, changes in social groups, repeated unexplained outings, drug paraphernalia. Furthermore, someone addicted to crack cocaine will have developed a tolerance and experience withdrawal symptoms. Drug users also experience mood changes, sleeping less or more, changes in energy, weight loss or weight gain, and difficulty controlling addictive behaviour.
According to the Canadian Centre of Substance Use and Addiction, the percentage of cocaine use in the Canadian population is low at approximately 2%. The rate of past year cocaine use in older youth aged 20 to 24 is increasing. However, despite the low prevalence of consumption, cocaine is responsible for the highest costs to the criminal justice system of any substance in Canada. Unfortunately, countless addicts in Canada are caught up in a circle of crime and addiction. In 2017, cocaine-related drug offences in Canada continued to decline for the fifth consecutive year, dropping 5% from 2016. The rates of cocaine-related offences dropped by 35% in Nunavut, 16% in British Columbia, 15% in Alberta. Yet, cocaine-related offences increased by 71% in Yukon, 37% in Nova Scotia, and 23% in Newfoundland and Labrador. Addiction to crack cocaine usually involves trouble the local law enforcement. Many crack cocaine users are charged with some related drug offences, leading to an on-going problem that usually requires court-ordered treatment. Unfortunately, it is easy to lose control over crack cocaine use and become addicted. The drug changes the way the brain works, and it becomes difficult to stop without proper addiction treatment. Someone who tries to stop using crack cocaine becomes nervous, feels sad and tired, has bad dreams, and becomes suspicious of people and things around them. Substance abuse treatment is essential, and long-term residential drug rehabilitation is the best option to treat a crack cocaine addiction.
Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment in Canada
Rehabilitation for a crack cocaine addiction should be a well-rounded approach and involve detox, residential or outpatient therapy, and aftercare support. The process begins with detox, and usually, a crack cocaine addiction benefits from a standard or traditional detox process. However, it is important to receive a proper assessment to determine if medical supervision is required during detox. Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not always severe. Most withdrawal symptoms include muscle tremors, severe headache, increased appetite, depression, tiredness, slowed thinking, inability to sleep, and nightmares.
The next phase of drug rehabilitation involves attending a residential or outpatient treatment program. One of the goals of rehabilitation is to help the addict understand the effects of crack cocaine use, face the issues that lead to drug use, and learn ways to stay away from the drug. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, many behavioural treatments for crack cocaine addiction have proven effective in residential and outpatient settings. For example, contingency management and motivational incentive are effective solutions. Cognitive-behavioural therapy is also an effective approach for preventing relapse.
Behavioural therapies take the approach for preventing relapse and helping the patient develop critical skills that support long-term abstinence. For example, this includes helping patients recognize situations they are likely to abuse crack cocaine and learn how to cope and manage when these situations occur. After residential treatment, therapeutic communities are drug-free residences to help people in recovery from addiction and have proven successful for aftercare. Peer support groups like 12-step support groups have helped many former crack cocaine addicts maintain life-long sobriety.
Per the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, approximately 28.1% of treatment episodes in Ontario were for individuals who identified cocaine as one of the primary substances for seeking treatment. In Alberta, cocaine was the third most commonly used within 12 months preceding treatment access. Overall, behavioural therapies are currently the most common way to treat crack cocaine addiction. According to the National Treatment Indicators Report, approximately one in 200 Canadians were in treatment for substance use. More than 60% of the individuals seeking substance use treatment. Also, two out of three individuals accessing substance use treatment services reported the use of any illicit drug, and most individuals reported problems with multiple substances, suggesting a high rate of polydrug use.
Crack Cocaine Use and Statistics in Canada
According to data collected from the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol, and Drugs Survey, 2.5% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported using cocaine during the past year in 2017. When compared to 2015, this is a 1.2% increased. Approximately 2.2% of adults aged 25 and over reported past year cocaine use, which was a decrease from 2013. The rates of past year cocaine use among teens aged 15 to 19 have remained steady and were around 1.6%. However, unlike the younger age group, the past year cocaine use among those aged 20 to 24 significantly increased from 3.3% in 2013 to 6.2% in 2017.
Additionally, there has been a significant increase in cocaine use among men in Canada from 1.3% in 2013 to 3.7% in 2017. However, cocaine use among women did change all that much between 2013 and 2017. According to a Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use Bulletin, the stimulants causing the greatest harm in Canada are methamphetamine, powder cocaine, and crack cocaine. Cocaine and crack cocaine are still widely used by addicts across the country. However, within some regions of the country, the harms associated with cocaine use appears to be decreasing.
Between 2015 and 2017, the estimated number of Canadians aged 15 and older who reported stimulant use was relatively small. The prevalence of cocaine use still remains high among men in the country. Overall, trends in stimulant use vary across the country with different stimulants. Between 2007 and 2014, healthcare costs associated with cocaine decreased 57%. According to the 2019 Global Drug Survey, Canada had the second-highest median number of days of cocaine use in the last 12 months. Also, the price of cocaine in the country is one of the lowest, estimated at around $85 per gram compared to the global average of $120 per gram.
According to a Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey, 0.9% of Canadians had used crack cocaine in the past year. Crack cocaine was one of the most prevalent drugs among cannabis, cocaine, speed, ecstasy, and hallucinogens. During the first half of 2018, cocaine and crack cocaine overtook opioids as a drug-related killer. Information from the Chief Medical Examiner shows cocaine-related deaths rose significantly, and most of the overdose deaths occurred in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The problems with cocaine addiction are associated with many things, such as social occasions where most drug use occurs for many addicts. Most recovering cocaine addicts associated their cocaine addiction to past social situations. According to an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, cocaine addiction is a condition associated with social isolation and breach of social rules. Many successfully recovered addicts often refer to social emotions as drivers in their recovery. The findings from the research show that cocaine addiction is associated with a lesser reward response to social interaction.
Most of the cocaine found in Canada is coming through the United States via Mexico, Columbia, and Peru. According to a report exploring the Latin American Drug Trade, Columbia currently accounts for the vast bulk of cocaine produced in Latin America. Moreover, it is the primary supplier for the United States and the worldwide market. In 2009, 116,000 hectares of coca leaf were cultivated in the country, yielding an estimated 270 metric tons of pure cocaine. Americans currently consume roughly 44% of the global cocaine supply. The trafficking and abuse of cocaine affect all aspects of life in Canada. The damage caused by drug abuse and addiction is reflected in an overwhelmed criminal justice system, healthcare system, and lost productivity within the economy.