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What You Need to Know About Drugs: Cocaine and Crack

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What It Is: Cocaine is a white powder that comes from the dried leaves of the coca plant that is found in South America. 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 very, very 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 to You:

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 your heart beat faster and your blood pressure and body temperature go up. It can make a person's heart beat abnormally. Cocaine is so dangerous that using it just once can make you have a heart attack or stroke and can kill you.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: June 2010
Originally reviewed by: Ryan L. Redman, MD

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

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