Powder cocaine and crack are both forms of cocaine. They are stimulants which temporarily speed up the way your mind and body work but the effects are short-lived. Both crack and cocaine can be smoked but cocaine is more commonly snorted whilst crack is generally smoked in a pipe.

Crack tends to have a much stronger effect and can be more addictive than snorting cocaine. Cocaine and crack both affect the levels of dopamine in the brain (a natural chemical which is released when we are happy or having a pleasurable experience) which give users a high. However, long-term use of these drugs mean that we have less dopamine in our brains leading to low mood and even depression.

The effects of cocaine/crack can include feeling confident, alert and energised, however the come down after using can result in not being able to sleep, feeling agitated and low mood.

The risks of using crack or cocaine can be:

  • It raises body temperature and makes the heart beat faster which can lead to heart attacks
  • If you share pipes or notes (tubes) to snort with, there is a possibility of transmitting blood-borne viruses such as HIV or hepatitis C. This risk is likely to increase if someone injects crack and uses a used needle to do so.
  • The come down can leave users feeling tired and run down. In some cases, feelings of depression after using can lead to thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide.

For more information, please visit Cocaine Anonymous at www.cauk.org.uk.

Back to information about other drugs