Is it crack cocaine, or something else? When it comes to identifying drugs, smell is one of the most reliable senses a person can use. No one can feel a drug’s potency or risk of addiction. Taste can be limited in its usefulness as many drugs are bitter and difficult to distinguish (plus, it carries the added risk of putting the substance into your system). Sight might seem like the most effective method, but there are plenty of drugs that look like others, can be made to look like others, or whose appearance is deceptively similar to household objects like flour, baking soda, or rat poison. Knowing what crack smells like can be extremely helpful in determining if a loved one is using.
What Does Crack Smell Like?
Crack is an impure derivative of powdered cocaine that carries a distinct synthetic chemical smell when smoked. Crack smoke is often described as being a noxious odor similar to that meth, both of which have been likened to:
- Nail salons
- Burning rubber or plastic
These little crystalline nuggets or “rocks” that range from white to yellow or even shades of pink, give off little detectable odor in their solid state.
Does Cocaine Have A Smell?
Cocaine, on the other hand, is known for having a light floral scent. Trying to detect cocaine through smell alone is highly unlikely, however, since snorting is the primary method of use rather than smoking.
Chemicals Commonly Used To Make Crack Cocaine
The exact scent can vary depending on the creation process. To put it more precisely: which cutting agents are present in the cocaine base that was diluted. Cocaine is often cut with other substances either as a filler to stretch the supply or to disguise the fact that the cocaine has been cut. These substances range from harmless to deadly and can be virtually impossible to detect without the use of a chemical testing kit. Some of these include:
- Talcum powder
- Laundry detergent
- Epsom salts
- Vitamin B (Thiamin)
- Strychnine (an ingredient in rat posion)
Cocaine and crack cocaine are often laced with cheaper and sometimes even more addictive stimulants with the intention of getting users hooked more quickly. Many of these additives are poisonous and can quickly become lethal if large amounts of cocaine or crack cocaine are used in a short period of time.
Other Ways To Tell If Someone Is On Crack
Relying on a certain smell to confirm your suspicions means waiting for a loved one to use crack, essentially putting themselves in harm’s way. Here are three signs to look out for that can serve as a warning sign that someone is using crack cocaine before they use again.
Burns on the lips, nose, or fingertips
Crack is almost always used via smoking. The contraptions used to facilitate this (referred to as crack pipes) can result in several types of burns:
- Chapped, blistered, or cracked lips: The pipe can quickly become very hot. Without a mouthpiece, it can cause burns when it makes contact with the mouth
- Marks on the tip of the nose: When the pipe is lit, it’s held to the user’s mouth. Beijing in close proximity to the face, the nose sometimes makes contact with the lighter’s flame
- Finger burns Swathes of raw skin on the tips of the thumb and forefinger (often the person’s dominant hand) from holding the crack pipe or device
Black marks on household items
Crack pipes are usually constructed out of glass or metal and feature round bulbs at the end. However, makeshift pipes are common and can be made out of regular, everyday items that are accessible in your average household. Soda cans, glass and plastic bottles, lightbulbs, even plain aluminum foil are some of the items most commonly repurposed for this illicit purpose. If this is the case, they will exhibit black burn marks from where a flame was used.
Rapid weight loss
Changes in appetite are a common sign of drug abuse. Cocaine and crack cocaine can interfere with gastrointestinal systems and cause a loss in appetite. The result can be drastic weight loss. Cocaine is often used as a means of weight control and is highly prevalent amongst those with a past or present eating disorder.
Crack Addiction Is Deadly Serious
Despite being a less pure version of cocaine and having virtually the same pharmacological makeup, crack cocaine can be even more harmful than the original substance. Why? The nature of how crack is used allows the chemicals to act more quickly and their effects to be felt more strongly. The fast-acting but short-lasting high can quickly devolve into addiction, the long-term effects of which can include irreversible lung, kidney, and heart damage; gastrointestinal problems; and severe mental illness.
If you have a loved one that is struggling with a crack addiction, residential addiction treatment can help manage withdrawal effects and provide a safe environment to overcome their dependence. Learn more about our various programming options and how they can help.