What are the forms of cocaine that can lead to toxicity?

Updated: Dec 31, 2020
  • Author: Lynn Barkley Burnett, MD, EdD, JD; Chief Editor: Sage W Wiener, MD  more...
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Crack (cocaine free base), which is generally sold in the form of "rocks," may also be sold in large pieces called slabs. These are approximately the size and shape of a stick of chewing gum and are sometimes scored to form smaller pieces. Crack cocaine differs from cocaine salt in that it is stable to pyrolysis and can be smoked. Users of cocaine in its crack form tend to be young adults aged 18-30 years who live in the central city and who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds. However, in 1986, the National Office of Drug Control Policy reported that young inner-city drug users were beginning to disdain crack as a ghetto drug. In Miami, for example, crack use had become unfashionable, and individuals continuing to use it, particularly blacks, were trying to hide it from their peers.

In 2016, crack use was estimated to constitute less than a quarter of overall cocaine use. This is similar to the estimates for most years from 2008 to 2015. [1]

Cocaine powder (cocaine salt) is currently marketed to adults from all ethnic backgrounds and socioeconomic groups, predominantly  white men older than 30 years who live in the central city. In several locales, cocaine is mentioned as a club drug, but it is not as prominent as methamphetamine and some hallucinogens in the club environment. It cannot be smoked, but is well absorbed transmucosally.

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