Cocaine, or coke, as it is known in the streets, is a strong and extremely addictive stimulant. The raw material for cocaine is the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. Once processed, coke can come in both powder (cocaine) or rock form (crack).
The term "crack" comes from the crackling and popping sound the drugs make when it is subjected to heat. In this more compact form, the concentration is higher, making it dangerously addictive. Reports of people becoming hooked on crack after just one use are not uncommon.
The most noticeable disparity between coke and crack is their appearance. Coke comes in the form of a very fine crystallized white powder, while crack is found in a rock form that is generally white but may also be cream, tan, even light brown colour depending on the additives.
Another significant difference is how they are used. While cocaine is typically snorted through the nose, crack is smoked through a glass pipe.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the intensity and duration of the high produced also varies depending on the route of administration. The faster the drug components reach the brain, the quicker the high. When cocaine is directly injected into the vascular system or when it is smoked, the user achieves maximal concentration more rapidly. The result is a more intense high which lasts a shorter duration. On the other hand, when cocaine is snorted the onset of the high takes more time, yet it lasts longer.
When crack is smoked or injected, the effects are felt in under a minute, peak within 3 to 5 minutes, and last for 30 minutes to an hour. On the other hand, snorting cocaine will affect the body within 1 to 5 minutes, peak between 20 to 30 minutes, and the high can last for as long as 1 to 2 hours.
In the streets, crack is significantly less expensive than cocaine. Because crack is a cheaper alternative to cocaine, this form of the drug became more accessible to people belonging in the lower socioeconomic class. Crack is a much more potent form of cocaine, but it is associated with a more awful and harsher ‘down’. Dependency is formed because people that smoke crack need another hit to alleviate the symptoms (body aches, cold sweats, throbbing headaches).
Crack became the drug of choice and took over minority and low-income communities that by the 1980s, an alarming epidemic of crack use festered in these communities.
People who can afford and maintain a habit of cocaine use generally belong to the more affluent part of society. But when the habitual use of drugs like cocaine becomes too expensive to maintain, people often transition to crack.
Cocaine Use in Australia
In Australia, the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) reports that the isolated calls regarding cocaine their helpline received have increased significantly. Compared to last year, the calls have more than doubled.
The Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program also report that cocaine use is the highest it has ever been especially in the regional parts of Australia.
This information is backed up by the Bureau of Crime Statistics. Criminal activity and other offences involving the use of cocaine or possession of the illicit substance has shockingly increased by 50% in a span of two years, from June 2013 to 2015.
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) reports that in major cities like Sydney, the use of cocaine has doubled. From 2015 to 2016 alone there were 2,777 recorded cases of cocaine detected at the border. Seizure of this illicit drug has amounted to 3,951 nationally with 2,592 documented nationwide arrests.
In more recent findings spanning 12 months (August 2016 to July 2017), an estimated three tonnes of cocaine were consumed in Australia. This is despite the mobilized resources and efforts of law enforcement to close down drug operations through seizure operations and going after distributors, middlemen, and manufacturers. Even though in 2017 the Federal Police confiscated more cocaine than the expected demand, the drug still flooded the streets.
Signs and Symptoms of Crack Addiction
The manifestations of crack addiction are often difficult to hide because of its intense physical and psychological effects. People who are dependent on crack need to smoke frequently in order to get high because it is short-acting. When the high of the drug is at its peak, the user is unable to hold a regular conversation, much less be productive as the result of drug addiction.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of crack addiction is key to getting your loved one the much needed help from professionals.
The physical manifestations of cocaine use are:
The following psychological signs may be helpful to positively identify whether your loved one is sustaining a crack habit:
The crisis of crack cocaine use still poses a serious threat to the public health sector in Australia. The underlying factors and variables behind this epidemic are complicated. Luckily, there are effective treatment programs and such can be availed at The Arden Centre. Countless lives have been changed and saved because they got much-needed help and had a strong support system in the form of family and friends.
I am an energetic and committed Senior Health Care Manager with a passion for developing staff through education and mentoring.