What Is Freebasing?

Cocaine is an addictive drug that can be abused in several ways. Cocaine is commonly snorted or injected, but can also be smoked, in a process referred to as freebasing.

What Is Freebasing?

Cocaine is an illegal stimulant that offers feelings of euphoria and an energy rush. A cocaine high does not last long, which usually leads to repeated use over a short period of time. Binging a drug like cocaine can quickly lead to addiction.

Cocaine is considered a party drug, and due to this popularity, many people falsely believe that cocaine is somehow safer than other drugs. Unfortunately, cocaine use comes with a significant amount of problems, including cardiac arrest, arterial vasospasms, and heart palpitations

Even if a person stops using cocaine, it can create long-term or permanent changes in the brain. While they are using cocaine, a person’s decision making skills are severely impacted. This can lead to being in dangerous situations, or putting themselves or others at risk.

Cocaine can be used in a number of ways. The most common is snorting, but injecting and freebasing are common as well. Freebase cocaine is a water insoluble base version, that is abused in the following way.

Freebasing Cocaine

Freebasing cocaine is essentially inhaling the vapor from applying a heat source to base cocaine. It is usually simply referred to as freebasing and is not the same as smoking crack cocaine or attempting to smoke powdered cocaine.

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Freebasing usually involves putting freebase cocaine into a glass pipe and heating it until it boils into a vapor, which is then inhaled. A small amount of copper is usually placed in the pipe as well, to assist in the boiling process.

Freebase cocaine enters the bloodstream and brain much faster than other forms of cocaine. In some cases, it is faster than injecting it. Several people have reported that the ‘high’ they get from freebasing is more intense than other methods.

Creating a freebase version of cocaine requires a process that actually removes impurities and chemical components of cocaine hydrochloride, reducing the drug to a form that has a low melting point, does not dissolve in water, and takes effect almost immediately.

How To Make Freebase Cocaine

What is commonly referred to as cocaine is actually cocaine hydrochloride. By adding a chemical compound that includes ammonia, it allows a reaction that draws out a more pure form, or base form, of cocaine.

Essentially, by a chemical process, the cocaine becomes free from its sodium base. This is where the term ‘freebase’ comes from. The next step takes a form of ether to dissolve the cocaine. This form of ether is highly combustible and often results in explosions in the labs that create freebase cocaine.

Nearly pure cocaine has a very low melting point, which makes it easier to heat, boil and inhale the vapors. Because it is also lipid soluble, it results in a fast and intense high.

Freebasing Effects

The effects of freebase cocaine are quick, and they don’t last long. The intense rush of euphoria and energy burst tend to dissipate after about 30 minutes, and an equally intense crash occurs as the person starts to ‘come down’.

As the effects of the freebase cocaine wear off, a person may experience depression, irritability, fatigue, anxiety, or even paranoia. In an attempt to avoid these effects, a person may begin a dangerous cycle of continued use. This can indicate a pathway toward addiction.

The short-term effects of freebasing include insomnia, decreased sexual function, nausea, headaches, pinprick pupils and excess sweating. Long term freebase cocaine abuse can lead to mood changes, restlessness, hallucinations, paranoia, depression, and anxiety.

Additionally, there are significant health risks when a person is smoking or inhaling any chemical or toxin. A person is more likely to develop cancer, respiratory problems, damage to the mouth, throat, and lungs.

Over time, nearly all organ systems in the body can be damaged by cocaine abuse. The heart can stop working properly or completely shut down, the brain is more susceptible to stroke and seizures, a person can develop asthma or other breathing issues.

These health risks are in addition to the harm a person can do to their body when making or using freebase cocaine. There is an increased likelihood a person could burn their hands, arms or face when freebasing, and dangerous explosions can occur while making freebase.

Freebase Cocaine Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms from freebasing cocaine are similar to any other form of cocaine overdose. The main difference is the psychological withdrawal can be more intense due to the intensity of freebasing.

Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms associated with freebasing cocaine are:

  • strong cravings
  • nervousness
  • anxiety
  • excessive fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Freebase Overdose

Due to the fact that freebasing cocaine is ingesting a very pure form of cocaine, there is a higher risk that a person may overdose from use.

If a person is freebasing cocaine and begins displaying any of the following symptoms, contact emergency medical personnel immediately:

  • hyperventilation
  • fast heart rate
  • convulsions
  • stroke symptoms
  • coma

A person exhibiting these signs are at a high risk for stroke, seizure, and death.

Mixing freebase cocaine with any other drugs or alcohol places a person at an even higher risk for overdose.

There are several treatment options for a person who struggles with an addiction to freebasing cocaine. Contact our staff today to allow us to locate a facility near you.

Revue des Maladies Respiratories - https://europepmc.org/abstract/med/31201016

Frontiers in Physiology - https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2018.00079/full

Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0731708517325281

Archives of Toxicology - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00204-018-2281-1

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