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Crack cocaine Category: Stimulants

Also known as: Freebase, Base, Rocks, Stones, Wash, Pebbles, Gravel.

How it's used

Crack cocaine is a smokeable form of cocaine which is made by chemically altering cocaine powder to form crystals or rocks (about the size of a raisin). It is called crack because it makes a crackling sound when it is being burnt. Crack is usually smoked in a pipe, glass tube, plastic bottle or in foil. It can also be injected.

Short-term effects

Long-term effects

Other dangers

If you are pregnant

Crack cocaine use during pregnancy can induce miscarriage, premature labour, smaller babies and congenital abnormalities. Babies born to mothers who are crack users during pregnancy will show withdrawal syndrome following birth.


Crack can quickly become both physically and psychologically additive. Tolerance increases over time and so users have to keep increasing their dose to get the same effect.


Tiredness and depression.

How long does it stay in your system?

2-4 days (The length a substance is detectable depends on the test used, the levels consumed, if there are existing medical conditions and the person's own metabolism. This figure should therefore be used as a guide only).

What help is available?

• Self help support such as Narcotics Anonymous
• Counselling/ Psychotherapy
• Complimentary therapies, e.g. acupuncture
• Residential treatment programmes
• Aftercare
• One to one or group family support
• Contact the Drugs Helpline 1800 459 459 to find out about options in your area

« Back to Types of Drugs page
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The HSE and Union of Students in Ireland (USI) ask students to think about drug safety measures when using club drugs
Harm reduction messages from the #SaferStudentNights campaign.
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