A report came out of the UK last week claiming that almost 50,000 Londoners are addicted to crack cocaine. The estimate suggests that 46,000 15- to 44-year-olds in the UK capital are injecting or smoking the drug.

Crack is a substance that is talked about a lot -“ in fact, in Australia some crystal users call their drug of choice by that name. However, in Australia it is extremely rare to see true crack. Crack cocaine, a form of cocaine base, is derived from powder cocaine. Unlike the processing of freebase cocaine, converting powder cocaine into crack cocaine does not involve any flammable solvents. The powder cocaine is simply dissolved in a solution of sodium bicarbonate and water. The solution is boiled and a solid substance separates from the boiling mixture. This solid substance, crack, is removed and allowed to dry. The crack cocaine is then broken or cut into rocks, each typically weighing from one-tenth to one-half of a gram. One gram of pure powder cocaine will convert to approximately 0.89 grams of crack cocaine. The DEA estimates that crack rocks are between 75 percent and 90 percent pure cocaine.

The term crack refers to the crackling sound heard when the substance is heated, presumably from the sodium bicarbonate that is used in the production of crack. Because crack is usually smoked, the user experiences a high in less than 10 seconds. This rather immediate and euphoric effect is one of the reasons that crack became enormously popular in the mid-1980s. However, the high does not last for very long and as a result, crack users binge on the drug to prevent the inevitable crash.

So why don’t we see it here? The basic reason is that we simply don’t see enough cocaine in Australia. Essentially, crack only appears in markets where there is a glut of cocaine, i.e. where manufacturers can afford to waste a certain percentage of their product, as just over 10 percent of the drug is wasted when crack is produced.

Although it has been claimed by some that we are in the middle of a cocaine epidemic, there is really no evidence to support this. The drug has never really claimed a major spot on the Australian drug scene. There are a number of reasons for this but many believe that the major reason is that we are a very small market and the risks are simply too great for both the importers and exporters. Cocaine really only originates from one area of the world, i.e. South America, so trade routes are far more easily tracked than those for other drugs. Accordingly, there has never really been a large amount of cocaine in Australia, and subsequently little, if any, crack.

Remember: if you do not want any negative consequences, do not use the drug and, no matter how many times you have used a substance, never be blas?/p>

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