Crack is actually a less pure sort of free-base cocaine. Unlike old-fashioned free-base, however, its production doesn’t involve any flammable solvents.
Crack is usually made by mixing two parts of cocaine hydrochloride with one part baking soda in about 20 ml of water. The solution is then heated gently until white precipitate form. Heating is halted when precipitation stops. The precipitate is filtered and retained. The precipitate may then be washed with water; this procedure is usually omitted in the street product. The product may then be dried for 24 hours under a heat-lamp. Crack is then cut or broken into small ‘rocks’ weighing a few tenths of a gram.
There are four basic routes to coca intoxication:
chewing the leaves. Coca consumption was originally the prerogative of the Inca elite. Today, most of the natives indulge as well. Coca is also consumed as the highly esteemed coca de mat?. Drinking coca-tea tends to soothe the stomach; so it’s good for digestive problems. Coca de mat? is less likely to induce jitteriness than coffee. It is a rather more effective mood-brightener too.
cocaine sulfate – pasta, basuco, basa, pitillo, paste. This is the low-grade stuff that reaches the urban slums of South America. The sulfate is the intermediate stage between the coca leaf and the finished cocaine hydrochloride crystal. Coca leaves are stripped from the plant. They are put into plastic pit with a solution of water and sulfuric acid. A bare-footed man will climb into the pit; step on the mess; and shove it around with his hands.
cocaine hydrochloride – an odorless, white crystalline powder. It has a bitter, numbing taste. Making cocaine hydrochloride is quite complicated. The pasta is first washed in kerosene. It is then chilled. The kerosene is removed. Gas crystals of crude cocaine are left at the bottom of the tank. Typically, the crystals are dissolved in methyl alcohol. They are then recrystallised and dissolved once more in sulfuric acid. Further washing, oxidation and separation procedures involve potassium permanganate, benzole, and sodium carbonate.
freebase/crack cocaine. Freebase/crack is derived from cocaine hydrochloride, which has been chemically treated with ammonia or baking powder to free the potent base material from the salt. Free-base was originally produced by a dangerous four-or-five step process in which the hydrochloride salt was heated with water and a volatile liquid such as ether. Base cocaine in the form of ‘crack’ is safer to produce; but it is no less addictive. Crack/free-base itself is indissoluble in water, so it can’t easily be injected or sniffed. Instead, it is usually smoked from pipes; burnt on a piece of tin foil; or mixed with tobacco and perhaps cannabis in a smokable joint. The euphoric rush comes within a few seconds – even faster than from intravenous cocaine hydrochloride. Initially, the user may experience a profound sense of power, mastery, cleverness and uninhibited desire. Orgasm is intensified. Extravagant hyper-sexuality and rampant promiscuity are common. The exhilaration usually starts to fade within a few minutes. Soon, the crackhead desperately craves another hit. Profound depression may occur. Descent into the abyss has begun.
Chronic cocaine-use causes a decrease in the production of enkephalin, one of the brain’s natural opioids. This in turn causes a compensatory increase in the number of mu-receptors. The number of unoccupied mu-receptors may be associated with the craving and abstinence syndrome.
After chronic exposure to cocaine, the number of post-synaptic dopamine receptors in the CNS is reduced. The amount of dopamine transporter protein is increased. Tolerance to cocaine’s effects does exist over prolonged use; but the extent of this physiological adaptation is relatively modest. The cocaine-user still gets high; but in the absence of cocaine, his pre-synaptic neurons sequester dopamine in the synaptic cleft with greater efficiency. This may induce depression, and sometimes-profound despair. No one ever feels contented after taking cocaine. They just want more.
Cocaine induces elation primarily by blocking the dopamine transporter. The blockade increases the availability of free dopamine in the mesolimbic pleasure-centers of the brain. Degree of transporter occupancy is correlated with the intensity of euphoria. Higher doses and faster routes of administration create vivid memories and intense cravings.
Unlike most clinically approved mood-brighteners, cocaine is a pro-sexual drug. Taken before sex, it can induce prolonged and intense orgasm. Cocaine-induced lovemaking, however, is not especially warm or empathetic.
Cocaine is habit-forming. It is potentially dangerous when indulged in excess. If rats or monkeys are hooked up to an intravenous source of heroin, they will happily self-administer it indefinitely; but they still find time to sleep and eat. If rats or monkeys can self-administer cocaine, however, they will do virtually nothing else. They continue to push their drug-delivery lever for as long as they are physically capable of doing so. Within weeks,
if not days, they will lose a substantial portion of their body weight – up to 40%. Within a month, they will be dead.