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What is Freebasing?

You were always popular and hung out with people from different cliques. You played sports, acted in the school play, and even tried some substances here and there. Nothing crazy, some alcohol here and some weed there.

what is freebasing

So when your burnout friend says they are going freebasing, you are generally curious about what they mean. He shows you a glass pipe and a little, white rock. He heats the rock in the pipe and inhales deeply. You see his face light up immediately and he is pumped up jumping around. Despite being close friends, you decide to not smoke whatever that was. Looks like your friend may need you to keep an eye on him tonight, but you still wonder, what was that?

In 2021, 239 deaths were caused by cocaine between Pasco and Pinellas Counties. Clean Recovery Centers has been helping hundreds in Tampa and the surrounding areas to find their recovery. Our facilities have certified, rapid-resolution therapists at each location to help you dive into the root causes of addiction and address past traumas. Our blog is a free, educational resource for our beautiful, Suncoast communities. Today, we are going to discuss what is freebasing and how it can affect your loved one.

Freebasing: What Is It?

Freebasing is a term used to describe trying to increase the potency of a substance. It is commonly seen with cocaine because cocaine can not be heated for smoking. While this process can be seen with other substances, cocaine is the most popular to freebase with.

Differences Between Freebase and Other Types of Cocaine

Freebase cocaine is essentially the same as crack. When cocaine is being made, one step of the process produces a cocaine base. When turning it to freebase, ether is added to remove any impurities from the base. This is where the term freebase comes from, the ether acts to free the base to create a pure form of smokable cocaine. However, ether is highly flammable, and heating it for smoking caused many problems. Today, baking soda is used to remove the hydrochloric acid from cocaine, resulting in a rock. This rock is known as crack, but freebase cocaine can also be used to describe the rock.

Cocaine HCl is the powdered form of cocaine that is seen commonly in the illicit market. This powder can be snorted, injected, or swallowed. However, because of its acidity, cocaine HCl cannot be smoked. The powder can be dissolved but would require baking soda and heating to result in a crack rock.

Why Is Freebase Cocaine Used?

Freebase cocaine is used for the same effects as regular cocaine. Side effects of freebase cocaine include:

  • Hypersensitivity of the senses, especially touch and sound
  • Increased energy and productivity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bouts of happiness and irritability
  • Euphoria
  • Insomnia

Freebase cocaine is one of the fastest ways to feel these effects. It is also more convenient than injecting cocaine powder as you only need a glass pipe and lighter as opposed to a syringe, needle, water, and rubber band. However, the effects of freebase cocaine wear off quickly, encouraging binging behavior.

Effects of Freebase Cocaine on the Body and Mind

Freebase cocaine causes many effects on the body and mind. These effects not only cause problems while using freebase cocaine, but they can continue for months and even years after use has stopped. Let’s get into the breakdown of effects.

Physical Effects

The physical effects of freebase cocaine often involve the lungs. Similar to those who smoke tobacco, smoking freebase cocaine leads to long-term lung infections. This includes asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and an increased risk of developing pneumonia. These conditions make it difficult to breathe and may result in the person having to use an oxygen machine or inhaler to breathe better.

Malnourishment is also a common physical effect of freebase cocaine use because it causes a decreased appetite. Freebase cocaine is often used in binges, and the person may go days without eating. This causes a weakened immune system because the person is not getting the nutrition they need to sustain their body. Infections and injuries take longer to heal because the immune system is compromised.

Psychological Effects

Freebase cocaine carries a high risk of developing dependence. It works by causing an abundance of dopamine within the brain. When this happens, the brain does not produce as much dopamine when freebase cocaine is not present. This can make everyday pleasures – such as eating or having sex – seem boring or mundane rather than producing joy. Freebase cocaine becomes the only thing that makes the person feel good. As the effects wear off, the person may become more irritated and erratic to get their next dose. They will disregard work and relationships as freebase cocaine becomes the only thing they care about.

Behavioral Effects

Freebase cocaine causes the person to act in ways they wouldn’t normally. Behaviors such as reckless driving, unprotected sex with multiple partners, or engaging in other substance use can all happen as a result of freebase cocaine use. They often get a feeling of invincibility and that nothing will hurt them. These erratic behaviors can cause difficulties in relationships, leading to break-ups or lost family members.

Dangers of Freebase Cocaine

risks involved in freebase drug useAll cocaine use is dangerous, but freebase cocaine poses some additional risks. While overall health is affected, there are specific areas that are affected most by freebase cocaine.

Bloodborne Infections

Freebase cocaine is smoked through a glass pipe. Glass is the only material that can withstand the heat that is needed to produce the vapor from the freebase cocaine. However, glass can chip and break, causing cuts and injuries to the lips and mouth. These wounds can bleed onto the pipe, and those who share pipes may be exposed to the other person’s blood. Bloodborne infections such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis can be transferred between people this way, causing life-long consequences.

Heart Health Problems

Freebase cocaine is a stimulant, meaning it speeds up bodily functions. The heart may race, putting extra stress on the muscles. Also, freebase cocaine causes blood vessels to constrict, making it more difficult for the heart to pump blood throughout the body. Hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cardiomyopathy have been noted in some cocaine use studies. However, those who did not have cardiac risk factors did not experience coronary artery disease, indicating that starting use with a healthy heart may delay these conditions.

Long-Term Health Issues

As we talked about above, freebase cocaine can cause long-term issues with the lungs. Breathing difficulties and frequent infections can cause permanent damage to the lungs, requiring many medical visits. Treatments can be expensive and take time away from your work or family. Some conditions will require life-long medication.

Freebase Cocaine Overdose

Any type of cocaine can cause an overdose, and freebase cocaine can lead to one faster. The effects of freebase cocaine wear off quickly, causing the person to use more and more. They may not realize the amount they have taken, and not feel the effects on their body. Temperature can rise and the heart may begin beating too fast. This leads to heart attacks, strokes, and seizures. The only way to treat a freebase cocaine overdose is to treat the symptoms, there is no medication to reverse its effects.

Does Freebase Cocaine Cause Withdrawal?

Freebase cocaine essentially rewires the brain, making it very difficult to feel pleasure from anything else. Even after use has stopped, it can take a long period of time for the brain to regain balance. This is one of the biggest reasons for return to use with freebase cocaine. While freebase cocaine does not necessarily trigger physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, the mental effects can be devastating. Finding a safe space, like a treatment facility, can help with freebase cocaine withdrawal and keep you mentally well while the substance leaves your system.

Seeking Help for Cocaine Addiction in Pinellas County, FL

Cocaine can seem to take hold of your life before you realize it, creating a divide in your relationships. However, with cocaine addiction treatment, you can break the cycle and rediscover your passion for life. With therapy and coping skill development, you will be able to leave freebase cocaine behind and find the root causes of your addiction. It may seem impossible now, but taking that first step to treatment is the healthiest and strongest step you can take in your life.

Managing a cocaine use disorder is no way to spend your life. Clean Recovery Centers is here and ready to empower you to find what will work for you. Our unique, three-phase approach to treatment addresses all areas of addiction: physical, mental, social, and spiritual. Call us today at (888) 330-2532 to learn more about our program offerings.

Get clean. Live clean. Stay clean.

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