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Things to know about crack

The down side of crack

The drug pushes up your body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate and can cause chest pain and an irregular heartbeat even in healthy people. People who use crack are much more likely to have a heart attack than people who don’t.

Avoid it if you’ve got high blood pressure or a heart condition. People with a history of mental health problems should avoid crack too.

Use of the drug is also linked to strokes and seizures.

Comedown symptoms

  • feeling down, rough and tired
  • agitation, anxiety, paranoia
  • breathing problems, chest pains
  • intense craving for more of the drug.

Sudden death is more likely with large doses but smaller doses can kill, especially if someone has sensitivity to the drug. Around 200 cocaine-related deaths are reported each year in the UK.

Using hot pipes might injure your mouth, and if you share them you risk passing on or contracting – in tiny amounts of blood – infections like hepatitis C and HIV.

Injecting is best avoided. It can damage your veins and cause ulcers and gangrene. Sharing injecting equipment puts you at high risk of getting or passing on HIV, hepatitis C and other infections.

Mixing drugs


Using booze with crack makes the bad effects of both worse and can give you the illusion of being sober when you’re drunk. Crack and alcohol mix together in the body to make cocaethylene, a toxin that damages the brain, liver and heart. This is the reason for the bigger risk of sudden death in people using alcohol and crack together.

Speed, crystal meth, mephedrone, ecstasy, or Viagra

Mixing these drugs with crack means even more pressure on the heart and circulatory system, with a bigger risk of stroke and heart attack.


Taking crack when you’re on some antidepressants can cause ‘serotonin syndrome’. This could be dangerous and causes symptoms such as a fast heart beat, sweating, muscle spasms and sleeplessness. You need to seek urgent medical help if this happens to you. If you’re on antidepressants check with a doctor before using these drugs.

HIV drugs

As the body uses different pathways to processes these two drugs, there are no known dangerous interactions. However, regular use of cocaine has been linked to poor adherence to HIV treatment.

The law

Crack is a Class A drug. Possession can mean up to seven years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Intending to supply cocaine, including giving it to mates, can mean up to life in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

More info

Cocaine Anonymous
Phone: 0800 612 0225 (10am-10pm every day)

Last review: 24/08/2018
Next review: 24/08/2021