Smoking Cocaine

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Smoking cocaine may be the most dangerous way to consume the drug because its effects are more potent than they would be if a person was ingesting the drug nasally or intravenously. While those who use cocaine in this way enjoy the intensity of the high, smoking cocaine does have a downside — a higher risk of addiction and more severe health problems.

If you or someone close to you has been suffering from cocaine addiction, there is help available. At Guardian Recovery we have developed an individualized and effective program of cocaine addiction recovery. We believe in the benefits of a full curriculum of clinical care, beginning with medical detoxification, transitioning into a higher level of treatment, and concluding with personalized aftercare planning. To learn more about the treatment options we offer in your area, contact us today.

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How Is Cocaine Smoked?

The most common method of smoking cocaine involves smoking freebase or crack cocaine. Freebase cocaine is a purer form of the drug and is heated and inhaled through pipes or other smoking devices.

Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine that has been mixed with baking soda or ammonia and boiled until it becomes a hard rock-like substance that can then be broken up into smaller pieces and smoked in pipes. It produces an intense high when inhaled but also carries serious risks.

Powder cocaine can be mixed with marijuana and smoked in a joint. Smoking cocaine through a joint increases the risk of inhaling impurities that could damage your lungs. This method will increase the effects of both drugs and may lead to an increased risk of addiction.

Another way to smoke cocaine is by heating it on aluminum foil and inhaling the fumes produced. This practice is known as “chasing the dragon” and carries similar risks as smoking crack or freebase cocaine.

What Is the Difference Between Smoking, Snorting, & Injecting?

The main difference between smoking, snorting, and injecting cocaine is the speed at which the drug enters your bloodstream. When smoking cocaine, it enters your bloodstream almost immediately and produces a sudden but short-lived high.

Snorted cocaine takes longer to enter the bloodstream than smoking (about 30-45 minutes) but produces a longer-lasting high. Injecting cocaine is the fastest way to ingest the drug as it enters your bloodstream within seconds, creating an intense euphoria lasting up to an hour. Each method carries its own unique risks and potential for addiction.

Duration of Highs

The duration of a high from smoking cocaine is the shortest, lasting between five to 15 minutes. Snorting cocaine produces a longer-lasting high that can last up to an hour. Finally, injecting cocaine has the longest-lasting high lasting up to three hours.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can take place anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks after you stop using the substance. If you are detoxing from cocaine, you can expect to experience the following:

  • Anxiety.
  • Erratic sleep.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Cravings.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Tiredness.

Addiction & Dependency

Smoking cocaine is more addictive than snorting and injecting it because it produces an intense high that quickly dissipates. Withdrawal causes you to “chase the rush” by smoking more and in increasingly larger amounts.

Snorting or injecting cocaine takes longer to enter the bloodstream than smoking, which can lead to a lower risk of addiction, but that doesn’t make either method safe. Untold numbers of people with substance use disorder developed a dependency on cocaine by using these two methods of ingestion.

The safest way to detox cocaine from your body is by seeking the help of an accredited addiction treatment, like Guardian Recovery, that offers medically assisted cocaine detoxification and a full range of services designed to meet your specific needs.

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What Does Smoking Cocaine Do to Your Lungs?

Smoking cocaine can have a detrimental effect on the lungs. The National Institutes of Health reported that smoking crack could cause acute respiratory symptoms, affect lung function, and even cause life-threatening, acute lung injury.

Inhaling smoke from smoking cocaine can lead to inflammation and fibrosis of the bronchi, the main airways in the lungs, eventually leading to long-term health problems such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). Additionally, smoking cocaine increases the risk of strokes or seizures because it narrows blood vessels, slowing or blocking blood flow.

Effects of Smoking Cocaine on the Body

Smoking cocaine has a host of effects on the body. Physically, smoking cocaine can cause respiratory problems, damage to vital organs, including the heart, an increased risk of stroke or seizure, and even death from overdose or other complications.

Psychologically, smoking cocaine can cause depression, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, reduced cognitive function, and suicidal thoughts.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term effects of smoking cocaine include:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Paranoia.
  • Agitation.
  • Aggression.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of smoking cocaine can also cause organ damage and loss of appetite, leading to malnourishment, chest pain, and more severe heart disease. In extreme cases, smoking cocaine can result in hallucinations and psychosis, and even death.

Healing & Recovering From Smoking Cocaine

When recovering from smoking cocaine, focusing on both the physical and psychological aspects of healing is essential. Physically, allowing your body ample time to rest is crucial. Participating in activities promoting healthy breathing, such as yoga or meditation, is also beneficial.

Reputable addiction treatment centers like Guardian Recovery offer a full range of therapies, nutrition support, clinical services, and mindfulness activities to help you heal on every level.

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Smoking cocaine provides an intense, brief high that can quickly lead to an addiction that is hard to shake. It’s important to remember that recovery is possible and that choosing the right addiction treatment center for you is essential to long-term recovery. At Guardian Recovery, we provide comprehensive treatment, including medically-assisted detox, therapy, specialty programs, and reintegration support. Our caring and experienced administrative, medical, and clinical teams will guide you through every step of your recovery process from the first time you call. We provide a complimentary assessment and a free insurance benefits check and help coordinate local travel to our facility. All you or your loved one has to do is ask for help; we will take care of the rest. Contact us today.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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