Crack cocaine also known as “crack” or “rock” is a smokable, crystallized form of cocaine, a stimulant derived from the coca plant found in South America. Crack is made by dissolving powder cocaine in water, then adding ammonia or baking soda, and boiling the mixture. As it cools, it hardens. The product, crack, resembles small, off -white rocks.
Smoking is the most common method of use, but it can also be injected. The name “crack” comes from the crackling sound produced when heated. The high is intense and very short-lived, usually lasting 5 to 15 minutes. The short-term effects of crack use include euphoria, increased heart-rate, elevated body temperature, heightened alertness, increased tactile sensitivity, extreme energy, increased sex-drive and loss of appetite. Prolonged crack cocaine use can cause severe mental disturbances including hallucinations and paranoia. A user may develop an infliction called “coke bugs,” which is described as the gnawing sensation that bugs are crawling under the skin. The potential health consequences of using crack include increased blood pressure, thickening of blood vessels, respiratory problems, seizure, stroke, and heart failure.
Crack cocaine was introduced to the United States in the 1980s. The crack epidemic throughout American urban areas has been correlated with higher murder rates and a spike in gang violence, especially in Black and Hispanic communities, from the mid-1980s up to 1990.
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