Crack is a form of cocaine that delivers an immediate, powerful euphoric effect. It is smoked in a variety of fashions, with a pipe (there are a wide range of home-made and designer models), by smoking on foil or in a roll-up (‘crack spliff’ by mixing with tobacco and sometimes cannabis. Crack appears as ‘rocks’ of yellowish/ off-white with the consistency of wax. Crack is made by adding bicarbonate of sodium (baking powder) to cocaine powder and heating in water. Generally, the harder the consistency of the rock, the more bicarbonate has been used to transform it.
Crack can be a highly addictive drug, producing a short-term tolerance to its effects and deep psychological dependence—the user frequently becomes trapped in an impossible cycle of regaining the initial high and avoiding the ‘crash’ that occurs when the effects wear off, which is usually around 15 minutes. After many years of abundant supply at user-end purity, in the UK crack quality now varies significantly but 30% is not uncommon. Crack can be mixed with a weak acid, like citric and heated with water to prepare it for injection.