Drug and Alcohol

What Is Crank?

What is Crank?

What is crank? A highly addictive, powerful, and dangerous stimulant, crank is one of the worst drugs to abuse. Learn more about crank in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

March 22, 2023

You've probably heard about a drug called "crank." You might have heard the name in movies, books, or tv shows like Breaking Bad. Crank is rated among the most lethal illicit drugs on the streets. It has a global presence, not just limited to the US,

Crank is potentially fatal if someone overdoses on it, and emergency room visits due to crank addiction are rather common.

So, what is crank? Read on.

By the Numbers:

In 2020, more than 93,000 Americans died due to drug overdoses, primarily driven by synthetic opioids [such as fentanyl] and methamphetamine 

What Is Crank?

Crank is actually a street name for methamphetamine. Meth is a drug that is extremely potent; meth abuse can quickly turn into a serious addiction.

Unfortunately, crank addiction is common across all age groups and communities. Globally, drug trafficking networks continue to ship massive quantities of methamphetamine as methamphetamine abuse has turned into a devastating epidemic, underlining its surging demand.

Methamphetamine continues to be a part of any statistical study tracking the world’s most addictive drugs. Crank gained more notoriety much before the onset of the opioid crisis. While addiction to Xanax created a lot of media buzz, crank still remains one of the most potent illegal stimulants that is associated with an intense rush.

Also called speed or the poor man's cocaine, crank's effect on the central nervous system makes it one of the most lethal synthetic addictive substances. Crank is commonly sold as a white, crystalline powder. While pure crank is regarded as being transparent, almost colorless, street crank has a slightly white or off-white color. Crank is also sold in brighter shades of green, yellow, pink, or blue. Due to its crystalline form, crank is also called shiny, quartz, or rock salt. Crank can be easily stuffed into small capsules. This is the preferred way of using crank in some clubs where the pills are easy to circulate without the need to find a spot to snort the powder. The less popular form of crank is liquid crank, which looks like a dark yellow syrup. 

Methamphetamine and Crank: The Difference

Going by the standards for pharmaceutical drugs, methamphetamine is classified as a Schedule II stimulant with a clear and high potential for causing addiction. Methamphetamine is rarely used for treating neurological conditions like narcolepsy and ADHD.

Medical methamphetamine is nothing like crank. When prescribed, meth is administered in a minuscule dosage, unlike crank. Crank is used in far stronger dosages, which is why the street version of meth is extremely harmful. Despite being classified as highly addictive, methamphetamine continues to be prescribed as a medication. Available as Desoxyn, Methamphetamine has also found a way to treat obesity among adults and children.

In the United States, stocking, transporting, producing, or selling meth is illegal, and being caught means facing a federal-level investigation and punishment. In recent years, more legal restrictions have been applied to the sale of chemicals that can be used in the production of meth.

In 2021, nearly 2.5 million people in the US used methamphetamine.

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Crank Usage Patterns

Crank, also known as methamphetamine, belongs to a class of drugs called amphetamines. This family of drugs includes strong stimulants that instantly create a heightened sense of mental and physical energy. The person might want to dance or talk for hours.

However, as the effect of crank wears away, energy levels seem to crash quickly. This makes the person want to use the drug again. Crank is notorious for a chemical high that tends to last longer, and when used over a long duration, it can easily damage the central nervous system (as well as organs like the heart). The binge and crash method of using crank is responsible for people behaving in dangerous ways as the drug takes over or wears off.

Someone on crank might have bursts of euphoric feelings during which the person might not sleep or eat for days, and when the crash happens, the person might find it hard to even get off the couch and complete the most basic activities for the day—telltale signs of a meth addiction!

Crank Abuse: Symptoms and Dangers

Crank is often referred to by another street name, meth. Other street slang includes crystal meth, speed, chrissy, and more. An overpowering stimulant, this drug can be taken orally, smoked, snorted, or injected. Due to its extremely strong psychoactive properties, crank users experience an intense high, as the drug creates a false sense of happiness and confidence.

There is a big chance that someone who has used methamphetamine just a couple of times might desperately seek another hit as the desire to use meth once more is hard to control. Crank isn't a party drug, it's extremely addictive and can cause serious physical and mental damage very quickly. Crank is associated with causing extreme mood swings and even violence. The person can shift from dark, violent thoughts to feeling at peace within the shortest duration. When the crank high peaks, the person might find it impossible to sit for more than a few minutes. 

Crank Abuse Symptoms

  • Continuously talking without making any real sense

  • Inability to focus on a task or conversation for more than a few minutes

  • Continuously picking at the skin

  • Signs of burn marks around the lips

  • Signs or sore-like skin eruptions around the mouth

  • Progressive dental damage

  • Nervousness and anxiety without a reason

  • Sleeplessness, seeking medication for insomnia

  • Inability to feel happy with getting high

  • Uncontrolled sadness when the drug wears off

Crank Abuse: Additional Symptoms

  • Risky sexual behavior

  • Respiratory problems

  • Risk of seizure and stroke

  • Stealing money

  • Social isolate

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Nutritional deficiency

  • Engaging in unsafe activities

  • Extreme fluctuations in weight

  • Spells of hallucination

  • Confusion and poor short-term memory

  • Avoiding hobbies that were once dear

  • Picking on the skin, scratching away acne

  • Seeking other means to stay high until the next use of meth [turning to alcohol]

  • Developing depressive or mood disorders

  • Developing a gambling addiction

  • Symptoms that are similar to post-traumatic stress disorder 

Methamphetamine-involved overdose deaths nearly tripled between 2015 to 2019 - NIH study

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How Crank Works

Crank creates a euphoric high by creating an unnatural surge in dopamine levels. Our brains are not used for such neurotransmitter activity. Over a period of sustained usage, crank meth can damage the dopamine receptors within our brains permanently. Someone using crank for a long term will eventually develop extreme dependency where the person cannot feel any pleasure unless crank is used.

How? Without its dopamine receptors working in the usual manner, the brain struggles to induce feelings of happiness in the usual way, and the user desperately seeks the high to be delivered in any form. This pushes the person towards repeatedly using crank. This effect of crank meth is often described as the drug overwhelming the brain's pleasure centers. Without timely medical intervention, the ability of the brain to heal over time is compromised, leading to permanent damage.

Long-term crank addiction also causes irreparable damage to the user's cognitive abilities.

Understand How Crank Is Made

The making of meth gained mainstream attention when cooking meth was repeatedly referred to and showcased on the popular TV series, Breaking Bad. Crank is more of a man-made, manufactured drug than other drugs with some plant-based ingredients. While heroin and marijuana use some natural ingredients, meth is literally cooked and even lantern fuel has been used in meth production.

This also means that controlling the potency of crank meth is nearly impossible. The dealer selling crank on the street might have little idea about the strength of the drug as every batch tends to be different. There is a high chance of finding chemical toxins at par with industrial toxic wastes in some meth labs.

Street methamphetamine is created in makeshift laboratories. The chemicals used in this process are quite harmful. Often, traces of crank production chemicals make it to the final product, creating severe contamination risk. This can further worsen the symptoms of crank addiction. Many over-the-counter chemicals can be used for the illicit production of methamphetamine. This makes meth easier to create in backyard labs—a big reason law enforcement agencies continue to come across meth labs set up in the smallest areas. Even the most common, over-the-counter medications for flu can serve as one of the raw materials needed to make crank in meth labs.

When such chemicals are not readily available, fatal alternatives include battery acid, ammonia, drain cleaners, and antifreeze. These chemicals are used without thinking about their harmful effects and are stocked in illegal warehouses—a big reason why fire breakouts in meth labs are common. Just like cocaine, methamphetamine produced for illegal use is found in two primary forms:

  • A fine white powder

  • As small crystals

Crystal meth, or the chunky, small rocky form of meth, is regarded as pure and more potent. Crystal meth is often referred to as a clubbing drug. It is common to hear about crystal meth being caught during rave parties and nightclub raids. The crystal appearance of meth gives it other street names like ice or glass. 

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Crank in Contemporary Culture

Some people believe that crank has become stronger over the years as more chemicals have been used to make meth. Though it is hard to confirm this, lately, crank has been associated with never-seen-before levels of hyperactivity. There have been hushed conversations about how some celebrities and stage performers use crank in a fractional amount to provide a highly energized performance and keep up their focus levels.

The high crank produces creates an ability to keep working relentlessly, for days, without sleeping—something international performers might need to manage their crazy traveling and performance schedules. There have been some instances of people talking about Super Meth that perhaps provides Superman-like abilities easily beat the energetic high provided by consuming highly caffeinated beverages or energy drinks.

Crank Withdrawal Symptoms

Substance abuse tends to create various bodily and psychological dependencies. As a result, when a person abstains from using the substance, mild to severe meth withdrawal symptoms can set in. This is typically seen during and after drug detox. With crank, withdrawal symptoms can be hard to manage as crank withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Insomnia-like sleeplessness

  • Marked changes in hunger

  • Day-long restlessness

  • Anxiety or even panic attacks

  • Being overcome with depression

  • Crippling sense of despair

  • Developing psychosis about the people or things around

  • Suicidal tendencies

  • Intense cravings to use crank again

  • Repeated hallucinations

  • Tendencies of paranoia

Crank withdrawal is much easier when done at a drug detox center. Professional drug detox makes crank withdrawal safer, more comfortable, and much more likely to succeed. Never attempt to detox from any drug alone.

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Crank Addiction Only Seems Hopeless. The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

There are no second chances with a crank addiction. Nobody uses crank occasionally; this is a serious addiction in every form and needs medical treatment, just like you would seek a physician if suffering from a chronic illness.

Crank addiction happens quickly, with little time to stop before the damage it causes becomes permanent. If you or someone in the family seems to have a crank addiction, know help is available

The Edge Treatment Center provides expert, evidence-based care for crank addiction and more. Our outpatient drug rehab uses

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.