Last updated: September 25, 2023
Instead of the powdered form that comes to mind when hearing the word cocaine, freebase is purchased in chunks more conducive to smoking in a pipe or bong. So, basically, a cocaine freebase kit consists of a pipe and a lighter—two things that addicts usually manage to have on hand at all times.
When users smoke freebase cocaine, the drug follows a path from the lungs, through the heart, and, then, directly to the brain. The results are felt in seconds which makes this drug very appealing to some— but the payoff doesn’t come without risks.
What’s the difference?
Powder cocaine, or cocaine hydrochloride, is a water-soluble salt form of the drug. It’s because it is a salt that the body can absorb it when injected or snorted. It’s possible to smoke powder cocaine, but it’s not as effective as the other two methods.
People became leery of using infected needles after the aides crisis struck the nation. They began treating powder cocaine with chemicals to release the cocaine base from the hydrochloride. This results in a hard rock or lump of crack cocaine that is more easily smoked.
It doesn’t melt as easily because it’s not soluble in water, however, the low melting point makes it extremely “smokable.”
Freebase cocaine makes the user feel extremely euphoric seconds after smoking the drug. However, the intensity of the effect can cause an overdose to occur within one minute of ingesting the smoke. Overall, the high lasts between five and ten minutes versus fifteen to thirty minutes for those who snort or inject powdered cocaine.
The short time of impairment entices many to use the drug again too soon. This, of course, increases their chance of suffering an overdose.
Initially, as stated, users feel an extreme sense of euphoria, but those effects are short-lived. As that high wears off, there are likely to be unpleasant side effects that include:
- Depressed mood
- Head and body aches
- Sensitivity to light and sound
In an effort to ward off these unpleasant effects, many people use more of the drug. And, thus, begins the seemingly never-ending cycle of addiction.
In addition to suffering short-term effects that often lead to using more again, freebase cocaine use can cause long-term health effects.
- Cardiovascular problems
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Neurological problems
- Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders
- Weight loss and malnourishment
- Inability to focus
- Impaired decision making
- Lack of impulse control
Smoking freebase cocaine can also lead to cuts, sores, and burns as well. Not to mention that people are more prone to injury when impaired by drug use.
Signs of overdose
Other than the danger of nearly immediate overdose, freebasing cocaine creates many of the same risks as injecting or snorting the powdered form of the drug. It makes sense, then, that the overdose symptoms are the same as well.
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Labored breathing
- Chest pain
If someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms, or a combination thereof, and you suspect illicit drug use, contact emergency services immediately.
Are “baseheads” and “crackheads” the same?
Yes, they are.
Crack is otherwise known as crack cocaine so freebasing the drug is the preferred method of administration. Therefore, the terms are interchangeable and refer to someone who is addicted to freebase or crack cocaine.
It’s possible to beat addiction
Once someone reaches rock bottom, it can be the incentive they need for making a lifestyle change. Failing a company drug test could very well be the tipping point.
Rehabilitation is possible, but it can be a long, hard road. Coping techniques can make the difference when the triggers of everyday life seem in danger of overwhelming the recovering addict.
If an employee tests positive for cocaine, following the protocol outlined in your drug-free policy is paramount. Hopefully, it includes a heartfelt wish for them to seek help—and a list of rehabilitation programs that can be found nearby.