When cocaine is in its solid form, this is known as the “base.” The user takes the natural form of the cocaine and releases the cocaine base from the salt in order to freebase. People create crack cocaine by combining cocaine with baking soda and water, but in order to make freebase cocaine, they must extract the base with ammonia.
After freebase cocaine has been created, it no longer contains hydrochloride. Therefore, it goes from being a powder to being cocaine sulfate. This means that the cocaine is now nearly 100% pure. When cocaine is in its original form, people cannot smoke it, but creating freebase cocaine changes the chemical structure of the drug, so they can smoke it. In this form, it is easy to smoke because it has a low melting point. It cannot be injected because it cannot be dissolved in water. People choose to create freebase cocaine because freebase cocaine can be a much more potent product.
Dealers make freebase cocaine in several ways. One common way is to take a glass pipe and a piece of copper for the purpose of melting the cocaine and causing it to boil so that vapor is created. In this form, the user can smoke the drug.
The hydrochloride and the alkaloid in cocaine are known as the “base.” A process for “freeing the base” with ether was developed in the 1970s. This process freed the cocaine of any of the impurities or additives that existed in it. People needed to heat the substance so that they could “free the base” and inhale the vapors, and they did this with a lighter or even a torch.
People rarely choose this method of freeing the base these days because ether is a flammable liquid, and heating in the manner described above can cause an explosion. Because this method is so dangerous, people had to adapt and create a safer way of smoking cocaine. That’s when they switched to crack cocaine that can be produced in a safer manner but allows users to have a drug that is just as potent as freebase cocaine.
After removing the hydrochloride with baking soda, the cocaine is now in the form of crystal rocks that the user can place in a pipe and smoke. As the crystal rocks are being heated, it creates a crackling sound, and this is how the substance got its name. In the present day, people use the terms “smoking crack” and “freebasing” to mean the same thing.
What Are the Effects of Freebasing Cocaine?
Freebasing cocaine causes the user to feel the effects immediately. The membranes of the lungs absorb the drug, and it arrives in the bloodstream and the brain in just 10 to 15 seconds. When cocaine reaches the brain, the user feels an intense sense of euphoria and a high that will last as long as 30 minutes.
Although the high comes about quickly and provides the user with intense euphoria, the feeling crashes just as fast. After the euphoria starts to dissipate, the user begins to experience rather unpleasant feelings. These include paranoia, irritability, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
Freebasing cocaine also causes problems with respiration, damage in the user’s lungs and mouth, and a propensity to develop several types of cancer. If someone becomes a chronic user of freebase cocaine, they may experience asthma, seizures, stroke, heart palpitations, heart failure, or heart attack.
People also burn themselves while they are freebasing. The fingers and the face commonly receive burns when the user is holding the glass pipe or lighting matches or a lighter.
Short-Term Side Effects
People may tolerate the negative effects of freebase cocaine so that they can experience the short-term effects, such as the following:
- Mental alertness
- Hypersensitivity to touch, light, and sound
- An increased amount of energy
These short-term effects are very similar to the short-term effects that one gets from snorting cocaine.
Long-Term Side Effects
There are various side effects that can be long-lasting. These include:
- An increased risk of infections such as pneumonia
- Difficulties breathing
- Chronic coughing
It cannot be said that freebasing cocaine is safer than snorting or injecting because freebasing increases the following risks:
Long-Term Medical Conditions
Long-term use of freebase cocaine can lead to movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. It may also cause your attention span to shorten and may cause memory loss. The risk of permanently damaging your lungs the longer you freebase cocaine is also a concern.
The Risk of Overdose
It is possible to overdose when freebasing cocaine. In 2017, there were 70,237 deaths due to overdose, and 13,942 were related to cocaine. Freebase cocaine presents a higher overdose risk than other forms of the drug because freebase cocaine is the purest form of the drug. Pure cocaine is extremely potent.
Problems With the Heart
Cocaine is a stimulant, which can have negative effects on the body. If you have hypertension or other heart issues, freebasing cocaine can be especially dangerous for you.
Contracting Dangerous Infections
The act of smoking can result in cut or burned lips that have bleeding sores. This is one way that people can transport a blood-borne infection to the pipe. Sharing this pipe increases your chances of contracting HIV or Hepatitis C.
Once a person has HIV, cocaine speeds up the course of the infection. The research also suggests that those infected with HIV are more likely to contract other infections. This means that your loved one will be more susceptible to contracting Hepatitis C.
The long-term effects listed above are not the only ones that your loved one is in danger of experiencing if he or she continues to freebase cocaine. Cocaine suppresses the user’s appetite, so they may not be getting enough nutrients into their system. One of the reasons that people contract Parkinson’s disease is because of long-term cocaine use. In addition to that, your loved one is in danger of losing touch with reality and experiencing auditory hallucinations along with severe paranoia.
The Risk of Overdose
People have a high risk of overdosing on freebase cocaine for several reasons. Sometimes, people accustomed to smoking crack or injecting cocaine will decide to freebase cocaine. These people believe that they can ingest high doses of freebase cocaine the first time that they try it. This results in overdoses because they aren’t accustomed to the pure form of the drug.
People easily overdose if they are also taking other substances at the same time that they are ingesting freebase cocaine. When someone is overdosing, they may experience convulsions and/or a rapid heart rate and may hyperventilate. The individual may also fall into a coma.
Overdosing on freebase cocaine is very serious and requires immediate medical attention. If the person does not receive medical attention, they will be at risk of significant harm or death.
The fact is that someone can overdose on cocaine after trying it for the first time. This makes cocaine an extremely dangerous drug and something that your loved one needs to stop using.
Cocaine is extremely dangerous for another reason. Fentanyl is an opioid made in labs that is 50 times more powerful than heroin, but it is 100 times stronger than morphine. It is a drug that can be made illegally, and drug dealers mix it into cocaine. The user may be unaware of the fact that fentanyl is present in the cocaine that they purchased. This increases the danger of the drug.
Help for Your Loved One
If your loved one is in the middle of an addiction, the best thing that you can do is help them get into a drug treatment program. At Granite Recovery Centers, our medical detox program will remove the toxins that the drug left behind in your loved one’s system. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
It is extremely difficult to convince your loved one to commit to ceasing the use of freebase cocaine because when someone stops using this drug, they begin to experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These include lethargy, irritability, poor concentration, and an intense desire to use the drug again. The fact that freebasing causes such intense feelings of euphoria makes a freebase cocaine addiction even more difficult to overcome than other addictions.
Cocaine is a stimulant that increases the amount of dopamine that is in your loved one’s brain. Ordinarily, the brain recycles dopamine so it does not produce an excessive amount of the chemical. The drug prevents the brain’s cells from collecting the previously released dopamine. This allows dopamine to flood your loved one’s reward circuit and encourages further drug use. This is the reason that it is so hard for your loved one to stop using the drug.
Your loved one is also becoming tolerant to the effects of the cocaine, so they must take more of the drug to continue to feel the euphoric effects that they crave. This whole system reinforces the use of cocaine, and it takes a strong approach to combat it. This is the time for professional help that will release freebase cocaine’s hold on your loved one.
When your loved one enters our medical detox program, they will receive medication that will relieve withdrawal symptoms and assist in helping their body to metabolize the drugs that are in their system. Our doctors and nurses are present during your loved one’s stay in the detox program. They will monitor to make sure your loved one tolerates the process well. If your loved one were to go through the withdrawal process without this help, it would be extremely difficult and would probably cause them to use the drug again.
After the drug detox program, we will address your loved one’s psychological addiction. All residents participate in group and individual therapy and may have the opportunity to join a 12-step program. We are the one treatment facility that introduces our residents to the 12-step program right from the beginning. This goes along with our evidence-based psychotherapy sessions that each person must attend.
We also use yoga and meditation, as well as exercise, in your loved one’s treatment. Studies show these therapies are beneficial to those in treatment for substance use disorders. Your loved one was living an unhealthy lifestyle while enmeshed in drug addiction. Our program will take them in a better direction.
If your loved one is ready to put their drug use behind them, contact us today at Granite Recovery Centers.