What is Freebasing?Frank Montalvo
Support and Treatment Options for Freebase Cocaine Abuse
I’ve tried just about every drug there is on the black market, and I can safely say that nothing compares to the destructive nature of freebasing cocaine. I started using powder cocaine in high school and by the time I graduated, I was smoking cocaine day and night. By the time I checked in to Icarus Behavioral Health in Albuquerque, my mind and body were ravaged.
What is freebasing, exactly? Well, first off, freebase cocaine is like burning money. The high is very intense but short lasting. When you are dealing with drug addiction, maintaining the high is very important. When you smoke crack cocaine, you will sit there for hours taking hit after hit, running out for more crack, and doing whatever you need to do to afford the habit. Misusing cocaine even a little bit can lead you to a life of crime and addiction, especially if you are ‘prewired’ by genetics like I was with my family of addicts.
Freebase cocaine use is much more prevalent in our society than we would like to think. Drug addiction is a tough subject to talk about, especially with someone who is actively suffering from drug abuse. I will try to lay out the horrors of cocaine addiction in the next few paragraphs, and let you know what you can do to help someone quit their cocaine use.
Keep reading to learn more about freebase, my own misadventures with this deadly drug, and the way I finally got clean at Icarus!
How Freebase and Crack Cocaine Affect Your Brain
When you freebase cocaine for long enough, it changes your brain. You no longer think rationally. While powdered cocaine is more of a social drug, crack cocaine quickly becomes a solitary activity. No crack users are looking to share their stuff with somebody else.
Smoking freebase cocaine for as long as I did rewire my brain completely. It took me many months before I finally began to think normally again. I never got to the point where I was injecting cocaine, but I certainly got close. The power of cocaine addiction knows no bounds.
You will do whatever you have to do to get high and build up your stash. Health risks are even really part of the picture, you just do what it takes to get more, then do it again, and again, or at least I did.
The Beginning Of A Powder Cocaine Addiction
I dabbled a lot with drug abuse in my early years. I started abusing alcohol and marijuana in seventh grade and then graduated to snorting cocaine not long after. Acquiring cocaine powder in those days wasn’t that difficult. I grew up in an environment where drugs were freely available. My father sold lots of marijuana and my mother was an opiate addict.
The first time I snorted cocaine, I didn’t even know what it was, I just knew that it would get me high. Little did I know, I had snorted pure cocaine. I got so high that I thought my heart was going to explode. I contemplated calling 911 because I thought I was going to die. Once the effect wore off, all I could think about was attaining that feeling again.
Freebasing Cocaine: The Start of the End
Freebase cocaine is a much different animal than your traditional powder cocaine. Cocaine use at any level is dangerous and potentially addicting, but freebasing cocaine is far more intense. Cocaine is an expensive substance. Freebasing cocaine creates a cheaper version of the drug that gives you a much quicker high.
Crack cocaine rose to popularity in the 1980s and quickly became an epidemic in the United States. The effects of freebase cocaine can quickly make anybody become an addict. The number of people using crack cocaine rose drastically, and crack cocaine became a household name. You couldn’t turn on the news without hearing about the dangers of freebase cocaine.
These days, it is a lot different, and most drug overdose deaths are caused by fentanyl. But there are still plenty of people out there struggling with good old cocaine hydrochloride and freebasing cocaine (cocaine sulfate) as well as crack (cocaine bicarbonate).
Dealing With A Freebase Cocaine Addiction
Once I began freebasing cocaine, the writing was on the wall for me. I would buy a gram of cocaine from a family friend, cook it up, and then go find more, or try and cop an ounce and sell it to cover my habit. My freebase cocaine use spiraled out of control so quickly that I ran away from home while I was still a teenager. Even though my parents were both addicts, they couldn’t control me.
I didn’t want any relationships that didn’t revolve around cocaine. Had my father been a cocaine dealer, I definitely would have stuck around so I could steal it from him. Even if it meant a beating or two, I would have taken it if it meant I could’ve gotten even one high.
I couch-surfed for the next several years, all the while committing petty theft and other crimes so that I could acquire cocaine. Even the other drug addicts I lived with couldn’t handle being around me. I suffered a cocaine overdose when I was seventeen, and then another one a year later when I was eighteen. When I would smoke freebase cocaine, I would go on a roll that wouldn’t end until I was totally out of my mind.
What are the Effects Of Freebasing Cocaine?
A freebase cocaine addiction leads to many mental and physical issues. When you have a powdered cocaine addiction or a crack addiction, you will suffer the consequences not long after you become an addict. Cocaine is a stimulant, often referred to on the street as an ‘upper’. Unlike a depressant or ‘downer’, a stimulant like cocaine can make you stay awake for days on end.
There are intense periods where you have a ton of energy, followed by a crash that feels like you got hit by a bus. When people freebase cocaine, they go all in. In my experience, there is no such thing as smoking a ‘little bit’ of crack or base. It’s all or nothing. I would start smoking crack in the morning and go on a bender that would last days.
A freebase cocaine addiction leads to intense paranoia and delusions. If you don’t sleep for several days, which is common among cocaine users, you begin to lose touch with reality. The scariest thing about it is dreaming while you are awake. You start to see and hear things that aren’t there. The lines blur, and this can quickly lead to erratic behavior.
What Is Freebasing?
The process of freebasing cocaine includes a conversion process to turn powdered cocaine into a solid form that can be smoked. The process is fairly simple. The powder cocaine is dissolved in a mixture of water and baking soda and then cooked until it turns solid. This is known as a crack rock. The crack rock is then usually put into a pipe and smoked. A crack pipe usually is created with a small glass pipe and steel wool, but it can be done with nothing more than a soda bottle and a bit of tin foil.
This is done because freebase has a low melting point, and burns much more readily than the powder version of the same drug.
The Deep Need for More Cocaine
Many crack users produce crack either for themselves or to sell so that they can continue to afford their habit. Because crack cocaine is so addicting, many users end up smoking all of their products. The most successful crack dealers do not use their own products. One term you will hear on the street is ‘don’t get high on your own supply.’
This extremely potent form of cocaine can lead to severe consequences, both legally and personally. You will do anything to feel the euphoric effects of freebase cocaine. Engaging in cocaine addiction for long enough puts you at a higher risk of significant harm to your body.
Health Effects Associated With Cocaine Addiction
There are many physical and mental health issues associated with prolonged use of freebase cocaine. Common physical effects include decreased appetite, respiratory effects, heart palpitations, and even heart attacks. The mental side effects include extreme paranoia, depression, and anxiety. The intense euphoria of cocaine use quickly turns into an intense crash, resulting in an increasingly low mood.
My abuse of cocaine base got to a point where I ended up doing irreversible damage to my respiratory system. I still have breathing issues to this day even though I have been clean for a long time. Smoking cocaine for as long as I did introduce so many harmful chemicals into my central nervous system that I still feel the damage years later.
Freebase Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
When I finally made the decision to get clean, I was close to death. I had hit rock bottom long before this decision and I stayed at rock bottom longer than the average addict. There’s no manual or timetable when it comes to recovery. The psychological effects of substance use are so strong that there’s no way to tell when you will hit rock bottom.
There’s no magic wand or set path when it comes to deciding to get sober. It’s different for everyone. Oftentimes, the withdrawal symptoms are so intense that even when you try to get clean, you will end up right back where you started. Your dopamine transporters in your brain are all out of whack, to the point where the idea of living a drug-free life seems unattainable.
When I got to Icarus, I had intense feelings of depression and irritability. The withdrawal symptoms were so intense that I almost gave in and left, but I stayed the course and luckily was able to get through it. I also suffered from extreme fatigue and severe cravings. I couldn’t go five seconds without thinking of cocaine.
Maintaining Sobriety From A Long Term Cocaine Addiction
My freebase cocaine addiction lasted so long that I had to literally relearn how to just exist as a person without drugs in my life. I was an addict during my entire formative years, and the effects of freebasing cocaine were so ingrained in me that it took intense therapy and a lot of peer support for me to achieve recovery. Drug use is fairly common among young people, and it doesn’t take much to fall into a severe addiction.
There are plenty of other substances that can lead you down a dark path, but freebasing cocaine takes over every moment of your life. I’ve done other drugs, but freebasing cocaine led me to the dark side. It made me behave in a way that still makes me feel shameful. A big part of recovery is letting go of that shame and understanding that we are all human and we all make mistakes.
How To Help an Addict
The best way to help someone struggling with addiction is to educate yourself and give them space. No one is going to be forced into treatment. It takes a big personal effort to get clean. You cannot force sobriety on somebody. In fact, it can push someone away even further. I still have moments where I struggle, and days where I feel like slipping up.
Reach Out to Icarus to Overcome Freebase and Cocaine
But it helps to know I’m not alone in this. Plenty of people in recovery are struggling right now, and need all the support they can get. Finding a treatment facility like Icarus Behavioral Health was a life-saving situation for me.
I now have the tools to work on my recovery in a healthy way and reach out when I am in need of assistance. Every day now is a second chance for me, and I don’t take it for granted.
If this struggle seems familiar from your own story or sounds like someone you care about, do yourself a small favor today. Reach out to Icarus and let them know what you’re struggling with, and at least get options for support, so that you have them when you’re ready to seek a new way of life.
Cocaine does not have to rule the roost any longer, and help is yours for the asking!