DEALogo DRCNet Response to the
Drug Enforcement Administration
Get It Straight!

WHAT'S UP WITH COCAINE AND CRACK? First of all, it's important to know that cocaine is a killer! It is unusual but possible for a first-time user to die from cocaine. No one can predict whether he or she will become dependent and addicted, or whether the next dose will be deadly. Many of you have probably heard of crack cocaine. Crack is a slang term for smokeable cocaine. The name crack comes from the cracking and popping sound it makes when it's burned.

Cocaine is an "upper" (stimulant) that gives its user a false sense of limitless power and energy. When users "come down," they are usually depressed, edgy, and craving for more. First-time users can experience seizures or heart attacks which can be fatal.

Too many young people think that cocaine is the "in" thing to do. The reality is that cocaine can quickly take you "out!"

STREET NAMES FOR COCAINE: Coke, Dust, Toot, Line, Nose Candy, Snow. Sneeze, Powder, Girl, White Pony, Flake, C, The Lady, Cain, Neurocain, Rock, and Crack.

THE LOOK: Cocaine is white and looks like a crystalline powder. Cornstarch, crushed or powdered vitamin substances, sugar, and flour are often mixed with cocaine to make the drug less strong. This is called "cutting" the drug. Crack cocaine looks like small (sometimes pink) rocks.

COCAINE COMES FROM: the leaves of the South American coca plant, which grows in Bolivia, Peru, and Colombia. The leaf contains about 2% cocaine, which is removed by using a chemical process. Because cocaine is very expensive, its pure form is rarely found on the street.

COCAINE USE: Cocaine can be injected, smoked, sniffed, or snorted. Persons who share needles to inject cocaine run the risk of getting AIDS. When this drug, or any drug, is smoked or injected, it gets to the brain very quickly, and sometimes the brain can't handle it. Therefore the chance of overdose is high. Smoking cocaine is frequently called "freebasing." Some users smoke "woolies," which are gutted cigars filled with marijuana, cocaine, crack. or PCP. When people use cocaine, they are going for the "rush" - that feeling of being carefree and powerful. The overall effects of the drug can last about two hours.

COCAINE IS ILLEGAL: in all states, even though state laws vary. Possession for first time offenders carries a penalty of time in jail and a fine. Those who distribute the drug can spend a longer time in jail and have to pay even bigger fines.

  • Angry, hostile, and anxious feelings.
  • Violent behavior.
  • Confusion.
  • Mental illness that looks like schizophrenia (paranoid feelings, picking at your skin, hallucinations). The user can also be haunted by his or her thoughts.
  • Increased physical activity.
  • Loss of appetite, which can result in severe weight loss (anorexia).
  • Inability to sleep.
  • Increased heart and pulse rate.
  • Permanent damage to the blood vessels in the brain. which can lead to strokes.
  • Convulsions and body tremors.
  • Chest pain and raised blood pressure, which could lead to a heart attack and then death.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • AIDS or hepatitis resulting from shared needles.
  • Dependence and addiction.
  • Tolerance to the drug.
  • Snorting can damage the nasal tissue and the septum, which is the wall that separates the nasal cavities. A runny nose and/or nose bleeds can occur.


I learned when a pregnant woman uses drugs, the baby gets the drug too. Using drugs can be more harmful to the baby than to the mother. For example, crack babies are born to women who are dependent on crack. No one really knows what the long-term effects on these babies will be, but the prospects for them are not good.

Phill: I don't understand the difference between cocaine and crack, do you?

Thandika: Here's the score. Crack is a form of cocaine that has been chemically changed so it can be smoked, rather than snorted. When you smoke crack, the chemicals reach your brain in 10 to 15 seconds. When you snort cocaine, it takes 10 to 15 minutes to feel the effects.

Phill: That must mean the effects of crack a more intense than with cocaine, right?

Thandika: That's right. I've read that the high is so intense that heavy crack cocaine users often don't eat or sleep. This causes them to get sick. Just like with cocaine, the user can become physically and mentally dependent on it. Becoming addicted goes without saying.

Phill: A newspaper story I read talked about kids using crack cocaine and becoming very violent.

Thandika: Yeah, it's behind a lot of drownings, car crashes, falls, burns, and suicides. It's not a drug to mess with. It's dangerous!