Difference between crack and smack

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The world of illicit substances is vast and often confusing, with many substances going by numerous street names. Two such substances that have notably impacted societies globally are crack cocaine and heroin, often referred to as ‘crack’ and ‘smack’ respectively. Both these substances, while markedly different in their chemical compositions and effects on the human body, have certain similarities as well. This article aims to shed light on what crack and smack are, and the fundamental differences and similarities between these two potent drugs.

What is Crack and What is Smack?

“Crack” and “smack” are colloquial terms for two different types of drugs. Crack refers to crack cocaine, while smack is a street name for heroin.

  1. Crack: Crack cocaine is a form of the drug cocaine, which is derived from the coca plant. It is usually processed with baking soda and water to create a “freebase” form of the drug. The name “crack” comes from the crackling sound it makes when heated. This form of cocaine is typically smoked, providing an intense and immediate high. It is a powerful central nervous system stimulant that significantly increases levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, in the brain. Crack is highly addictive and using it can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and severe mental disorders.
  2. Smack: Smack is a common street name for heroin. Heroin is an opioid, synthesized from morphine, which is a natural substance taken from the seed pod of various opium poppy plants. It can be injected, smoked, or sniffed and it provides a sense of intense pleasure and euphoria. Heroin is also highly addictive and using it can lead to significant health problems, including respiratory failure, severe mental disorders, and the risk of deadly overdose.

Key Differences Between Crack and Smack

  1. Type of Drug: Crack is a powerful stimulant, while smack (heroin) is an opioid, which is a class of drugs that includes both legal painkillers (like morphine) and illegal drugs.
  2. Origin: Crack is made from cocaine, a drug derived from the coca plant, while smack is synthesized from morphine, a substance obtained from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant.
  3. Method of Use: Crack is typically smoked, leading to an immediate, intense high. In contrast, smack can be injected, smoked, or sniffed.
  4. Effects on the Body: Crack increases heart rate and blood pressure, potentially leading to cardiovascular problems. Smack, on the other hand, can slow breathing, potentially to life-threatening levels.
  5. Duration of Effects: The intense effects of crack are shorter-lived, typically lasting 5 to 10 minutes, while the effects of smack can last for several hours.
  6. Withdrawal Symptoms: Withdrawal from smack often causes symptoms like severe bone and muscle pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, and cold flashes, while crack withdrawal typically results in symptoms like depression, agitation, anxiety, and intense cravings for the drug.

Key Similarities Between Crack and Smack

  1. Addictive Nature: Both crack and smack are highly addictive, meaning they have a high potential for abuse and dependence.
  2. Legal Status: Both drugs are illegal in many countries, including the United States.
  3. Health Risks: Both drugs carry significant health risks, including mental health disorders and the risk of deadly overdose.
  4. Impact on Dopamine Levels: Both drugs increase dopamine levels in the brain, leading to their addictive nature.
  5. Socioeconomic Consequences: Abuse of both drugs can lead to serious social and economic problems, including poverty, crime, and breakdown of family structures.
  6. Treatment: Treatment for addiction to both drugs often includes a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, and support groups.


In understanding substances like crack and smack, we uncover the realities of drug misuse and addiction. Despite their differences in origin, effects, and use, crack and smack share grim similarities. Both are highly addictive, illegal, and dangerous, posing significant health risks and often leading to severe socio-economic consequences for individuals and communities. The fight against drug misuse requires not just effective law enforcement, but comprehensive education and awareness about these substances, their effects, and the resources available for those seeking help.


What are the long-term effects of using crack and smack?

Long-term use of crack can lead to severe health issues such as heart, liver, and kidney damage. It can also cause severe respiratory problems, sexual dysfunction, infertility, and malnutrition. On the other hand, long-term use of smack (heroin) can result in collapsed veins, infections of the heart lining and valves, abscesses, and liver or kidney disease. Lung complications, including pneumonia, are also common.

What are the signs that someone might be using crack or smack?

Signs of crack use can include frequent disappearances (to use the drug), possession of crack pipes, burnt spoons, or small plastic bags with white residue. Physical signs can include dilated pupils, excessive activity, high energy levels, decreased appetite, and rapid weight loss. For smack (heroin), signs can include drowsiness, constricted pupils, sudden and severe weight loss, changes in behavior, disorientation, and paraphernalia like syringes, burnt spoons, or aluminum foil.

What are the treatment options for crack and smack addiction?

Treatment options for addiction to both crack and smack typically involve a combination of medical detoxification, behavioral therapy, and long-term follow-up care to prevent relapse. Medications may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and treat co-occurring conditions. Behavioral therapies can help modify the person’s attitudes and behaviors related to drug use and increase healthy life skills.

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