Drug and Alcohol

Freebasing Cocaine: Risks & Effects of Freebase Cocaine

Freebasing cocaine is less common these days, but it's still a dangerous and highly addictive form of cocaine abuse. Read our blog to learn more.

Freebasing Cocaine: Risks & Effects of Freebase Cocaine

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

March 3, 2023

The Edge Treatment Center

Freebasing cocaine is a method of using cocaine that involves chemically altering the drug to make it more potent and easier to smoke. In this method, the cocaine powder is heated and evaporated after being combined with a base ingredient like baking soda. This creates a more pure and potent form of cocaine inhaled through a pipe or other smoking device.

One of the most common and harmful illicit drugs is cocaine. Freebasing cocaine is considered extremely dangerous and can lead to serious health problems such as lung damage, heart attack, stroke, and even death. This is because the process of freebasing often involves the use of flammable chemicals and can result in explosions or fires. Comedian Richard Pryor was a famous example.

Therefore, it is important to seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with this form of cocaine addiction.

By the Numbers

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 0.4% of the population, or 968,000 people aged 12 or older, began using cocaine in 2015. According to data from National Vital Statistics System, Mortality, between 2009 and 2013, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving cocaine was steady, but from 2013 to 2018, it quadrupled, rising from 1.6 per 100,000 to 4.5. 

What Is Freebase Cocaine?

Freebase cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive method of cocaine use that is created through a chemical process called freebasing. In this process, the cocaine hydrochloride salt found in powdered cocaine is converted into a freebase form, which is more volatile and potent.

The chemical process of freebasing involves using a strong base, such as baking soda, which is mixed with powdered cocaine and water to create a paste. The paste is then heated, which causes the cocaine to separate from the water and form a vapor that can be inhaled. This process removes impurities from the cocaine, resulting in a purer and more potent drug.

One of the main differences between freebase cocaine and powder cocaine is the method of administration. Powder cocaine is typically snorted or injected, while crack cocaine is smoked. Freebase cocaine is also smoked, but it produces a more intense and immediate high than other forms.

Freebase cocaine is typically smoked using a pipe or other smoking device. When inhaled, it produces a quick and intense high, often euphoric and stimulating. However, the high is also relatively short-lived, leading to repeated use to maintain the effects.

The use of freebase cocaine is associated with several health risks, including lung damage, heart attack, stroke, and even death. The process of freebasing involves the use of flammable chemicals, which can lead to explosions and fires. Additionally, the intense rush of the euphoria associated with freebasing can quickly lead to addiction and compulsive drug use.

In recent years, freebase cocaine has declined in popularity due in part to the rise of other forms of cocaine, such as crack cocaine, which is also created through a process of freebasing. However, freebase cocaine remains a dangerous and highly addictive drug associated with serious health risks and should be avoided.

How Does Freebase Cocaine Work?

Freebase cocaine works on the mind and body by increasing dopamine levels in the brain and producing several physiological effects. When freebase cocaine is smoked or otherwise consumed, it quickly enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier, where it binds to dopamine transporters, blocking the reuptake of dopamine in the brain.

Dopamine is normally released in response to pleasurable experiences, such as eating or engaging in social activities. However, when freebase cocaine is consumed, it causes a massive surge of dopamine in the brain, producing intense feelings of pleasure, euphoria, and well-being.

The increased dopamine levels also lead to changes in other brain areas involved in motivation, decision-making, and memory. For example, the nucleus accumbens (a part of the brain involved in reward and motivation) activates in response to the increased dopamine levels, reinforcing the behavior of using cocaine. 

Additionally, freebase cocaine can also cause changes in other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which can lead to increased arousal and alertness and decreased appetite and sleep.

While the initial effects of freebase cocaine on the mind may be pleasurable, repeated drug use can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Over time, the brain may become less responsive to the effects of dopamine, requiring larger doses of cocaine to produce the same level of pleasure. This can lead to a vicious cycle of drug addiction, where individuals continue to use the drug despite negative consequences on their health, relationships, and overall well-being.

It is important to note that the effects of freebase cocaine on the mind and body can vary depending on many factors, including the dose, method of administration, frequency of use, and individual factors such as age, weight, and overall health. It is also important to note that freebase cocaine is an illegal and highly addictive drug that can lead to severe health problems, including cocaine overdose and death.

It's crucial to get professional help as soon as you can if you or someone you love is battling a freebase cocaine addiction—or any other kind of addiction, for that matter. Individuals can overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery by using various efficient treatments, including behavioral therapies, medications, and support groups. 

What Are the Side Effects of Freebase Cocaine?

Like other forms of cocaine, freebase cocaine can have a range of harmful side effects on the body and mind. The dosage, administration method, frequency of use, and individual factors like age, weight, and general health can all affect how severe and long-lasting these adverse effects are. Some of the most common side effects of freebase cocaine use include:

  • Cardiovascular effects: Freebase cocaine is a powerful stimulant that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. These effects can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems.

  • Respiratory effects: Smoking freebase cocaine can cause several respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and lung damage. It can also lead to respiratory failure, a life-threatening condition.

  • Psychological effects: It can cause a range of psychological effects, including increased anxiety, agitation, and paranoia. It can also lead to hallucinations, delusions, and psychosis in some cases.

  • Gastrointestinal effects: Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are side effects of cocaine use. Moreover, it can result in intestinal ischemia, a disease that restricts blood flow to the gut and damages and perforates tissue.

  • Neurological effects: Freebase cocaine can lead to seizures, headaches, and other neurological problems. It can also cause changes in the brain that can impair decision-making, memory, and impulse control.

  • Sexual dysfunction: Cocaine use can lead to sexual dysfunction, including impotence and decreased libido.

  • Drug Addiction: Repeated use of freebase cocaine can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction to drugs, where individuals continue to use the drug despite negative consequences on their health, relationships, and overall well-being.

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What Are the Reasons for Addiction to Freebase Cocaine?

The reasons for the rise in cocaine addiction are complex and multifaceted and may vary depending on the region and population being studied. However, some possible factors that have contributed to the increase in cocaine addiction include:

  • Availability: Cocaine is a highly addictive drug easily accessible in many parts of the world. Its availability has increased with the growth of international drug trafficking and the development of new distribution channels.

  • Economic factors: Economic instability and poverty can lead to an increase in drug use, as people may turn to drugs as a way to cope with stress, depression, or financial hardship.

  • Social factors: Peer pressure, the glamorization of drug use in media, and the normalization of drug use in certain social circles can also contribute to the rise in cocaine addiction.

  • Mental health: People with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may use cocaine as self-medication.

  • Drug potency: The potency of cocaine has increased in recent years due to the introduction of new production methods, resulting in more potent and addictive forms of the drug.

Addiction to freebase cocaine, like other forms of cocaine, can be influenced by a variety of factors, including both biological and environmental factors. However, some of the most common reasons for freebase cocaine addiction include:

  • Genetics: Studies have shown that genetic factors can play a role in the development of addiction. Individuals with a family history of addiction may be more likely to develop an addiction to freebase cocaine.

  • Early-life experiences: Traumatic experiences in childhood or adolescence, such as abuse or neglect, can increase the risk of drug addiction like freebase cocaine.

  • Social and environmental factors: Social and environmental factors, such as peer pressure, access to drugs, and stress, can also contribute to the development of addiction.

  • Mental health conditions: Individuals with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, may be more likely to turn to drugs like freebase cocaine as a way of coping with their symptoms.

  • Sensation-seeking behavior: Some individuals may be more prone to sensation-seeking behavior, increasing the risk of drug use and addiction.

  • Dopamine release: Freebase cocaine releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. The repeated use of freebase cocaine can change the brain's reward circuitry, leading to addiction.

Recovery From Freebase Cocaine Addiction

Freebase cocaine withdrawal can be a challenging and uncomfortable procedure. Like other forms of cocaine, freebase cocaine has a significant potential for addiction and can result in physical and mental dependence.

Freebase Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When an individual stops using freebase cocaine, they may experience a range of withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Intense cravings: Individuals may experience intense cravings for freebase cocaine, which can be challenging to manage.

  • Fatigue: Individuals may experience extreme fatigue and lethargy as their body adjusts to the absence of the drug.

  • Depression: Withdrawal from freebase cocaine can cause feelings of depression, sadness, and hopelessness.

  • Anxiety: Individuals may experience anxiety and restlessness as they adjust to the absence of the drug.

  • Agitation: Some individuals may become irritable and agitated during withdrawal from freebase cocaine.

  • Sleep disturbances: Withdrawal from freebase cocaine can cause sleep disturbances, including insomnia and vivid dreams.

  • Increased appetite: Some individuals may experience an increase in appetite and may gain weight during withdrawal.

  • Physical symptoms: Individuals may experience physical symptoms such as muscle aches, tremors, and chills.

Withdrawal symptoms typically start within a few hours to a few days after the last use of freebase cocaine and can last for several days to a few weeks. However, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the individual and the level of their addiction.

Freebase Cocaine Overdose

It's unfortunately very easy to overdose when freebasing cocaine. The cocaine used in this method tends to be very pure, and thus stronger. Also, mixing freebasing with other drugs, like opioids and alcohol, can increase the dangers of freebase cocaine.

Freebase cocaine overdose has symptoms that include:

  • High heart rate

  • Convulsions

  • Stroke

  • Hyperventilation

  • Coma

Freebase cocaine addiction recovery can be a complicated process that may entail many strategies, such as medical and behavioral therapies, support groups, and lifestyle modifications. Here are some of the critical steps involved in the recovery process: 

  • Detoxification: In most cases, detoxification is the initial stage in recovering from a freebase cocaine addiction. This entails refraining from drug usage and giving the body time to detoxify. Due to uncomfortable or deadly withdrawal symptoms, drug detox can be challenging. Medical supervision and assistance may be required to treat withdrawal symptoms and protect the person.

  • Medical treatment: Medications may be used to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings for freebase cocaine. Several medications have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating cocaine addiction, including methadone and buprenorphine.

  • Behavioral therapies: Behavioral therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be effective in helping individuals learn coping strategies and avoid triggers for drug use. These therapies can be provided in both individual and group settings and may involve family members and other loved ones.

  • Support groups: During recovery, support groups can be a great source of inspiration and support. These groups offer a helpful network of people who can offer direction, counsel, and encouragement and are familiar with addiction's struggles.

  • Lifestyle changes: Making positive changes to one's lifestyle can be an important aspect of recovery from freebase cocaine addiction. This may involve changes to diet, exercise, and sleep habits and the development of new hobbies and interests that can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

  • Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety associated with addiction to freebase cocaine. These practices can promote a sense of calm and well-being and help individuals develop healthier coping mechanisms.

  • Aftercare: Recovery from freebase cocaine addiction is an ongoing process, and aftercare is an important part of maintaining sobriety. Aftercare may involve regular check-ins with a therapist or support group and ongoing medication management and lifestyle changes.

Social and environmental factors, such as peer pressure, access to drugs, and stress, can contribute to the development and maintenance of an addiction. Addressing these factors as part of the recovery process can be complex and may require changes to one's lifestyle, relationships, and environment.

Also, addiction to freebase cocaine is a chronic condition, and the risk of relapse is high.

Thus, addressing essential aspects of the recovery process is crucial, like developing effective relapse prevention strategies, such as ongoing therapy and support groups.

Freebasing Cocaine Is Deadly. The Edge Treatment Center Can Help

The Edge Treatment Center is committed to providing comprehensive and individualized treatment programs to assist people in battling freebase cocaine addiction. To assist patients in achieving long-term recovery, our team of skilled medical professionals, therapists, and support personnel offers evidence-based therapies, medical management, and emotional support. 

Don't run the risk of a cocaine overdose from freebasing cocaine. Our outpatient drug rehab will help you leave cocaine abuse behind. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today to learn more.

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