It is crucial to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet addiction may pose even a higher danger than the virus.

Learn about recovery during the pandemic:

Freebase Cocaine: What is it? What are its Effects and Dangers?

Cocaine Freebasing

Important InformationThis information is for educational purposes only. We never invite or suggest the use, production or purchase of any these substances. Addiction Resource and it’s employees, officers, managers, agents, authors, editors, producers, and contributors shall have no direct or indirect liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage, or adverse consequences alleged to have happened as a consequence of material on this website. See full text of disclaimer.

Freebasing or freebase cocaine is one of the methods of cocaine consumption in which dealers convert powder cocaine into a heat-stable form. This way, abusers can smoke it.
Freebase cocaine or freebase coke has higher lipid solubility thus allowing it to diffuse into the brain more rapidly. Therefore, it produces a faster high than other methods such as snorting, or comparable to intravenous use. They call it by other names such as smoked cocaine, freebase, or cocaine base.

Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options.
Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Table of Contents

How Does Freebasing Work?

Freebasing extracts the cocaine alkaloid from its natural salt form by using ammonia. Then, they treat the mixture with a non-polar solvent. This treatment results in the formation of two separate layers of which the upper layer consists of the dissolved cocaine. Lastly, they evaporate the solvent containing cocaine to obtain the cocaine.
Freebasing also renders the cocaine free from water-soluble impurities and other useless components. Therefore, freebasing produces almost the purest form of cocaine.

Cocaine Freebase vs HCl: What’s the Difference?

The basic difference between freebase cocaine and its hydrochloride form (HCl) is the way people use it for recreational purposes. Users smoke the former type, while they inject or snort latter one.

Freebasing or any other recreational use of cocaine is abuse and has legal consequences.

Crack vs Cocaine Freebase: Which One Is More Potent?

Freebase CocaineBoth substances are smoked by those who abuse the drug. Many may consider these two forms to be the same or at least similar. However, there are certain factors that differentiate one from the other.
Freebase cocaine is almost 100% pure and has a very low water solubility. It can withstand degradation from the heat during smoking, and reach the brain rapidly due to its high lipid solubility. The crack is available as a wax-like substance. Dealers often call it “rock of crack.”

None of these forms are safe, as they have high potencial to abuse and are addictive. Law prohibits any use of cocaine, if only it is conducted in medical settings.

Dangers of Using the Freebase Method

Cocaine is one of the stimulants that users abuse the most. Addicts use various forms of cocaine. Freebase cocaine abuse account for a significant portion of the deaths due to illicit drug use.
Smoked cocaine is more dangerous than other forms of cocaine due to its:

  • Higher abuse liability
  • Greater propensity for addiction
  • More severe health consequences

Some evidence also suggests greater crime rates among individuals who use crack cocaine. However, confirmations are not yet available.
However, the primary factors that determine the degree of addiction and health impacts are the amount they use, frequency, what is cocaine cut with and duration. Surprisingly, the form of cocaine itself isn’t as important.

What are the Effects of Cocaine Freebasing?

Drug addict man is freebasing cocaine.

Initially, the short-term effects of freebase cocaine are pleasurable in nature. This is the underlying reason behind its abuse and subsequent addiction. When one smokes cocaine, they almost instantly become euphoric. This can lead to cocaine addiction over a long period of time. Studies suggest the users taking freebase cocaine have more intense cravings. This is when one compares it to those taking it by other routes. In addition, an individual’s personality traits also influence the intensity of cocaine cravings. Besides, there are many long-term effects of cocaine use in general which are essential to know them.

A large number of individuals using freebase cocaine have other co-occurring conditions. The most common ones are psychiatric disorders, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.
The harmful effects of regular long-term abuse of freebase cocaine include:

  • Loss of control
  • Inability to make good judgments and decisions
  • Strong urges for taking cocaine that may result in risky behavior
  • Acute myocardial infarction (AMI) that causes severe chest pain and is often fatal
  • Damages to respiratory organs resulting in black sputum, blood in coughing, chest pain and heart palpitations
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine Overdose Risks: What’s the Influence?

Because it’s easier to inject and the high amount of it reaching the brain, there’s a significant risk of overdose. Furthermore, freebase cocaine overdose can cause life-threatening lung injury.
Some warning signs of Freebase cocaine overdose include:

  • Cardiac arrhythmia from very rapid heartbeats called tachycardia
  • Higher than normal body temperature and blood pressure
  • Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, unresponsiveness and delusional thoughts
  • Inability to make good decisions
  • Convulsions
  • Shakiness
  • Stroke

Cocaine overdose is a very serious condition that calls for immediate medical attention. Failure to get prompt treatment can be very serious often leading to death.

  1. Perez-Reyes M., Di Guiseppi S., Ondrusek G., Jeffcoat A. R., Cook C. E. Free-base cocaine smoking. Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 1982; 32(4):459-65.>
  2. Manschreck T. C., Laughery J. A., Weisstein C. C., et al. Characteristics of freebase cocaine psychosis. Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 1988; 61(2):115–122.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


Leave a comment