What is Crack?


The harm reduction information that follows is offered as a public health service. Its purpose is not to encourage or condone the use or possession of illegal drugs. It is to help people make safer choices in their use of drugs that will reduce their chance of overdosing and them getting Hepatitis B & C and HIV.


Crack is one of the most commonly used drugs in North Carolina

According to the DEA, there are around 171,000 Crack Users in North Carolina. Crack is the street name for a crystallized form of cocaine made into small lumps or rocks. Cocaine hydrochloride is processed with ammonia or sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and water and heated to remove the hydrochloride, thus producing a free base form of cocaine that can be smoked. The term crack refers to the crackling sound heard when the mixture is smoked.


Why should I Smoke Safer?

Smoking crack can lead to open sores, burns or cuts on the lips, which can transfer blood to a crack pipe. If the pipe is shared, even a speck of infected blood can transmit hepatitis C. People who smoke crack, like everyone else like to have sex. When you smoke crack it often decreases your inhibitions, and deceases condom negotiation skills, which can increase exposure to HIV, STIs and Hepatitis. Thus if you are going to use, we recommend women, men who have sex with men and people of transgender experience pre-insert a female/ reality condom into their vagina or anus (or both) and that men carry condoms with them when they use. HIV, hepatitis and STIs are not worth it. NCHRC provides both these condoms for free.


Why should non-crack smokers care?

If a crack smoker gets HIV, it will cost NC $660,000 in long term medical costs and if they get hepatitis C it costs the state between $100,000 to $600,000 in long term medical costs. These costs are preventable by having crack users use more safely and teaching them to have safer sex.


What is in a Safer Smoking Kit?

NCHRC promotes crack users smoke safer if they are going to smoke. They should use the following to prevent the acquisition of HIV and hepatitis

Mouthpiece: This is the most important thing in the kit. A cut sparkplug fits nicely onto a stem. Using this prevents you from getting cut, burnt and infected lips and HCV exposures.
Rubber Bands: Wrap these around the end of the stem to prevent lip burns (be aware that with hear these occasionally melt and snap).

Triple Antibiotic Ointment: First Aid for sores. Do not use for burns.

Alcohol Wipes: Use these to clean mouthpieces and pipes, especially if you a are sharing equipment.

Antiseptic Towelettes: Use these to clean off our hands (and your John if you are doing sex work).
Chore Boy/Brio: Use this as a filter in the stem. After repeated heating choy becomes hot and brittle and can be sucked into your throat. This provides an opportunity for you to be exposed to diseases, especially during unprotected oral sex. Change out your choy often.
Screen: 1 inch screens are used as a filer in the stem. These are better than choy since they last longer.

Vitamin C & E: Vitamin C helps lessen fatigue and crashing. Vitamin E will help cuts, sores and burns heal.
Condoms (lubed and unlubed): Use lubed condoms for vaginal and anal sex, use unlubed for oral sex.


Safer Using Tips

  • Use a glass or metal stem with a mouthpiece.
  • Wipe mouthpieces with alcohol before using.
  • Stay away from broken pipes & pipes with visable blood.
  • Use clean choy or copper wire. Pipe screens are best if you have them.
  • If using a plastic bottle or pipe, remember to change the foil and use clean ashes.
  • Let your pipe cool down before taking your next hit, this prevents cuts and burns.
  • Use straight glass shooters, it will not cause burns as quickly.
  • Wrap end of straight shooter with rubber bands, thick rubber, pieces of tape or paper (you can even use a rolled up matches) so you are less likely to hurt your lips.
  • Clean crack shooters often and carefully.
  • File edges of broken glass shooters until they are smooth.
  • Touch flame shooter quickly instead of leaving it there, move fire along shooter to spread out the heat.
  • Stay away from mixing drugs.
  • Planning how much to use and setting limits can prevent some of the dangers associated with using or bingeing. Paying rent, buying groceries and paying other bills before buying drugs means budgets won't get out of control. After a binge, people are often very hungry and ready to crash, so encouraging people to have food on hand and a safe place to sleep will make the crash easier.