Crack cocaine is made of cocaine hydrochloride processed with ammonia or baking soda and water into a ‘freebase’ form. The mixture is then cooled and filtered with the ‘rocks’ or ‘chips’ being smoked in a crack pipe. One of the most dangerous forms of cocaine, the drug enters the bloodstream quickly and has a high risk of overdose. The dangers of crack cocaine cannot be overstated but it is important to first learn how crack works in the body to understand all the risks and dangers associated with smoking crack cocaine.
How Crack Overdose Happens
An overdose on crack cocaine depends on the body’s tolerance to the drug. Intoxication comes in three phases: early phase of stimulation, a second phase of hyper-stimulation with possible tonic convulsions and a third phase of a depressed central nervous system. The signs and prognosis for an individual who overdoses on crack are based on the highly addictive properties in crack cocaine and how it affects the brain and body.
The route of administration for crack cocaine is important because of the way it enters the system. When smoked, the drug enters the body’s bloodstream quickly before crossing the blood-brain barrier which affects the central nervous system. Chest pains from convulsions may occur and unintentional overdoses are common due to a surge in the desire for a stronger ‘high.’
The quality of cocaine in processed crack varies quite a bit with the purity of street cocaine being highly variable.
Crack Cocaine Doses
A person’s tolerance to cocaine will determine whether an overdose is more likely to occur. Chronic cocaine use, high levels of tolerance (or addiction) can increase the risk. Anything higher than 5 grams of cocaine has been proven to cause heart attacks and other complications including death. Some of the complications from this highly addictive substance include:
- cold sweats
- coughing with black mucus
- excessive tremors
- shallow breathing
- slowed heart rate
- stopped pulse
Chronic intoxication and overdose with crack can lead to many serious complications including anorexia, causing weight loss, physical exhaustion, behavioral problems and chronic depression. Immunoallergic lung disease can require additional treatment in a medical facility which can develop into a chronic condition. There is also a high risk of overdose during pregnancy which will cause vaginal bleeding, miscarriage and fetal dependence on cocaine. Mortality rate among crack cocaine users is high with approximately 19% of fatalities being caused by effects of an overdose. Up to 75% of overdose deaths occur within 5 hours after crack administration with the rest occurring within 1-2 hours after administration. Treatment is available for individuals addicted to crack cocaine. The prognosis for an individual who seeks treatment depends on the length of use and overall health complications but is preferable to risking one’s life from an overdose.
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