Cocaine and Crack Facts

Cocaine use results in more emergency room visits in the United States than any other illicit drug.

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Class of drug: Stimulant

Main active ingredient: Cocaine hydrochloride is extracted from the leaf of the Erythroxylon coca bush. Crack is processed from powdered cocaine (hydrochloride is removed). What it looks like: Cocaine: fine crystalline powder Crack: light brown or beige pellets or crystalline rocks (often packaged in small vials)

Street names: Cocaine: Coke, Snow, Blow Crack: Freebase Rocks, Rocks

How it is used: Cocaine: sniffed or injected Crack: smoked

Duration of High: Cocaine effects appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes or hours (depends on route of administration). Crack effects are felt within 10 seconds and disappear within five to 10 minutes (very intense high). It is not uncommon for users to binge on crack to try to sustain the short, but intense high.

Withdrawal symptoms: Mood swings/changes, depression, anxiety— unpleasant but not life threatening

Detection in the body: Three to five days

              Physical—increased energy, dilated pupils, increased pulse rate, elevated blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite, sudden death

              Mental—euphoria, tactile hallucinations, large amounts can cause bizarre and violent behavior

              Long-term—mood disturbances, paranoia, heart attacks, respiratory failure, heart disease, strokes, seizures, death

U.S. Information:

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, cocaine was used primarily as medicine. The drug was officially banned in 1922. More than 50 years later, a new variation of the substance emerged. This substance, crack (above), became enormously popular in the mid-1980s due in part to its almost immediate high and that fact that it is inexpensive to produce and buy.

WI Information:

During FY 2013, 45.4 percent of the federally-sentenced defendants in Wisconsin had committed a drug offense. Over half of the drug cases involved powder cocaine or crack cocaine. In 2013, 4.3 percent of high school students in Wisconsin reported using cocaine at least once in their lifetime, compared to 9.9 percent a decade ago. (U.S. Sentencing Commission, FY 2013 Federal Sentencing Statistics; U.S. Centers for Disease Control Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2013)

Sources: American Medical Association, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse Warning Network, National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Office of National Drug Policy