Crack is cocaine that is mixed with either sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) or ammonia and heated to make what looks like rock crystals. These are then heated and the vapors made from heating are smoked. The name of the drug comes from the crackling and popping sound made when heating it up. Sometimes chips or powder are made rather than crystals, though the same manner is used and these are also smoked. One of the popular draws to crack cocaine is its intense immediate high. This lasts for around ten to twenty minutes and includes intense euphoria and increased energy. It is a powerful stimulant, even more so than cocaine.

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive substance and even short-term users will begin to feel the pull of addiction and experience symptoms of withdrawal. These can include intense craving, irritability, paranoia, restlessness, anxiety and hunger. The longer the drug is used, the more tolerance is built up and more of the substance is needed for same feeling experienced in the beginning. The longer someone has been using and the more they use, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms become, which makes it that much harder to quit using.

The popularity of crack soared in the 1980s and became extremely common in poverty stricken inner city areas. Its use decreased in the1990s, but use has been going back up again within the last decade. This form of cocaine is popular because of its high availability and extremely low cost to use or buy. This is what often makes it a drug of choice for the poor and disadvantaged, especially young people growing up and living in poverty-stricken areas.

Recently, however, use has increased in middle class teenagers and also among the more affluent. They are also just as enticed by the intense, immediate high and the fact that it is cheap and easy to get. The 2002 Monitoring the Future study showed that 3.8% of 12th graders admitted trying crack. Studies also showed that approximately 50% of high school students felt they were at great risk for trying crack due to its availability. The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse found in 2001 that more than six million Americans had tried crack cocaine at least once and more than one million people had used it within the past year.

Along with the intense, immediate high felt with crack use, users can also experience high blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, intense anxiety and hyperactivity, decreased sleep, loss of appetite and convulsions. Frequent users can additionally experience hallucinations, paranoid psychosis and violent behavior. Long-term crack cocaine users suffer from extreme compulsive restlessness, severe depression and delirium and also commonly experience heart attacks, strokes, respiratory problems, nasal damage, overdose and death. If crack is smoked during pregnancy, it can cause stillbirth, miscarriages, premature labor, internal organ defects and various other birth defects and cognitive difficulties. The number of emergency room visits in 2001 alone attributed to crack cocaine was 24%, which is almost a quarter (1 in 4) of all ER cases.

Crack is the main drug involved in the majority federal drug arrests and drug trafficking stings. Crack carries with it much harsher penalties for possession and sale than many other substances including the penalties for cocaine. Even very low-level street dealers and first time offenders can be sent away for some time when caught even with small amounts. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made over 6700 arrests in 2000 alone related to crack, and more than 3000 of these arrests were of those 21 to 30 years of age.

The average prison sentence in the United States for this type of case is ten years and six months. This is even more prison time than what many will get for offenses such as violent weapons charges, rape and even murder. This has caused some to argue that the laws are biased against the poor and disadvantaged, as other drugs seen as more affluent, such as cocaine, do not have nearly the harsh penalties involved when caught as those seen with crack.

There are crack drug tests that can be used to determine if someone has been using crack. Crack and cocaine testing could prove valuable in the work environment. Regular use of crack causes extreme grandiosity, delusions, aggression and violence. Users can exhibit extremely unpredictable behaviors. Even those using cocaine can become aggressive and do things they would not if they were not using. Crack testing and the use of cocaine drug tests are valuable tools to an employer to ensure workplace productivity and, most importantly, workplace safety. Drug tests for crack and cocaine look for the urinary compound benzoylecgonine. This is present when an individual has used either substance recently.

Parents who are concerned that their children are exhibiting the signs of serious drug abuse may also want to look into the possibility of testing. Cocaine testing may be the route to go if you are suspicious of this type of drug use. Crack cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous substance, and the longer it is used, the worse the withdrawal symptoms will be. This makes it very hard for long-term users to quit using crack permanently. Also, the longer crack is smoked the more risk of permanent physical damage and death. Cocaine is also highly addictive and carries with it its own set of health concerns.

You can find out about your child’s crack or cocaine use now cocaine testing if you have strong suspicions. Then if affected, they can get the treatment needed as soon as possible. Most crack addicts need professional help and intense rehabilitation to rid themselves of their addiction. Even then, long-term success is not guaranteed, as it will remain a lifelong battle for many. If you or anyone you know is addicted to crack or cocaine, it is important that intervention and treatment is sought as soon as possible for the best chances in recovery.