Baking soda and drugs

You may have never finished a container of baking soda—like, ever. Sometime it’ll come out hiding when you need an emergency exfoliant, but you’ve next-to-never actually ingested it. So why does it need to take up sacred pantry #shelfie real estate?

According to Nutritious Life founder Keri Glassman, MS, CD, and RDN, natural mineral sodium bicarbonate—AKA baking soda—is an oft-overlooked but versatile ingredient that can be used for Pinterest-approved cleaning hacks, whiten teeth, and boost health via beverages concocted from the stuff. That’s right—baking soda might be the benefits-rich elixir of your dreams, and it’s been stowed away in your pantry for…maybe ever.

In fact, trainer and nutrition expert Britt Brandon’s new book, Baking Soda for Health, outlines 5 different baking soda drink benefits and how they can help out your bod.

1. To improve your digestive system

Trouble with digestion is the type of thing that can derail your day (especially if you, like Adam Rippon, are one to get nervous). If you’re prone to tummy woes or just want to boost your general health, Brandon advises dissolving a teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of water every morning “to help maintain a healthy pH balance throughout the digestive system for optimal digestion, minimized acid reflux, and healthy bowel functioning.”

2. To promote cardiovascular health

A compromised cardiovascular system can lead to things such as decreased energy, and negatively impacted mental functions, digestion, and immunity, Brandon notes, adding that “circulatory issues can lead to the possibility of serious health conditions such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, and the development of various blood issues.” A teaspoon of baking soda in an eight-ounce glass of water daily is said to detoxify blood and improve its flow by helping to break down blockages.

3. To reduce bloating

Once you know that you’re dealing with a bloat and not inflammation, try relieving the uncomfortable situation with a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in four to six ounces of water, according to Brandon. She writes that by “returning the pH to neutral levels, the body’s gases can be calmed and the digestive processes, acids, and enzymes can return to their natural state and foods can be broken down normally without issues and disruptions,” which reputedly helps alleviate the issues causing your bloat.

4. To keep your kidneys healthy

The kidneys are obviously vital to your bodily functions (Brandon explains that they rid your body of toxins and promote healthy hormone production). And in a study conducted at the Royal London Hospital, 134 patients with advanced chronic kidney disease who had a daily dose of baking soda were able to, alongside regular treatment, slow the decline of their kidneys by two-thirds as compared to those who didn’t have baking soda.

With a daily cup of water with a teaspoon of baking soda, Brandon says you can regulate your body’s pH level and help improve your hormone balance, nutrient absorption, and blood quality—all of which can help your kidney stay healthy.

5. To combat acid reflux

If you chronically suffer from acid reflux, you might consider adopting certain diet shifts to help lower heartburn as a long-term solution. But when you’re dealing with a bout of it in real time, half a teaspoon of baking soda with half a cup of water can help you “find immediate relief against gastric acid symptoms,” Brandon writes.

She does, however, warn against overdoing it: “As with any antacid medication, if you take too much baking soda, you will neutralize the acid in your stomach. This can result in your stomach producing more acid to compensate, causing you to take more baking soda and thus forming a vicious cycle.”

Originally published on April 11, 2018. Updated on July 31, 2019.

Still looking to get the most out of your box? Believe it or not, baking soda is the key to evening out tan lines! And when you finally buy a new one, here’s the best way to store baking soda.

Sodium bicarbonate already aids you in your daily life, and you may not even know it. Some know it as baking soda through its popularity in oral hygiene products and baked foods. Keep reading to discover its potential health benefits and possible side effects.

What Is Sodium Bicarbonate?

Sodium bicarbonate is commonly referred to as baking soda, which is a popular food ingredient, medicine, and household product.

Its neutralizing ability can relieve stomach conditions, such as acid indigestion and heartburn. For this purpose, sodium bicarbonate is commonly sold as an OTC antacid medicine .

Some kinds of toothpaste contain sodium bicarbonate for its ability to fight tooth decay and remove odors. Sodium bicarbonate works well with fluoride to protect teeth, kill bacteria, and improve overall dental health .

Sodium bicarbonate is also a popular ingredient for cakes and bread. While providing texture in foods, sodium bicarbonate can also reduce acidity, and act as a raising and leavening agent .

Sodium bicarbonate also has household uses. You can use it for pest control, odor control, and even as an emergency fire extinguisher .


As the name implies, sodium bicarbonate is a salt composed of sodium and bicarbonate .

These two ions (electrically charged atoms) break apart from each other when dissolved to interact with nearby components, such as free hydrogen .

Mechanism of Action

Excess hydrogen increases the acidity in liquids and can cause digestive issues and, at high levels, a severe condition called acidosis. Sodium bicarbonate can remove excess hydrogen from its environment to reduce acidity. Each sodium bicarbonate molecule can bind to 3 hydrogen molecules .

Sodium bicarbonate can also release its sodium ions, thus providing an excellent source of this electrolyte. Sodium is necessary to control cell volume, maintain bodily fluid acid levels, and transmit nerve impulses .



  • Approved for some types of metabolic acidosis
  • Helps with mild acid reflux
  • May improve exercise performance
  • May improve oral health
  • May prevent chronic kidney disease from worsening


  • Insufficient evidence for some benefits
  • May cause some adverse effects at normal doses
  • High doses or continuous administration may cause metabolic disturbances
  • May interact with several drugs
  • Not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women

Health Benefits

Metabolic Acidosis

Metabolic acidosis is a condition in which the blood becomes too acidic due to increased acid production or bicarbonate loss in the body. The main types of metabolic acidosis include :

  • Lactic acidosis: excessive production or decreased use of lactic acid
  • Ketoacidosis: high blood levels of ketone bodies, often due to poorly managed diabetes
  • Kidney failure: since they increase blood bicarbonate and lower acid levels
  • Poisoning with substances such as ethylene glycol, methanol, and salicylate
  • Excessive bicarbonate loss (through diarrhea, fistula, laxative abuse)
  • Excessive blood potassium (hyperkalemia)

An injectable solution with 4.2-8.4% sodium bicarbonate is approved for people with metabolic acidosis from chronic kidney disease, hyperkalemia, or excessive bicarbonate loss. It also seems to help with acidosis caused by amitriptyline overdose. However, it is ineffective and may even worsen the condition in people with lactic acidosis or ketoacidosis .

Possibly Effective

Acid reflux occurs when the stomach acids flow back into the esophagus and irritate its inner lining. Antacids such as sodium bicarbonate provide quick relief by neutralizing stomach acids .

Sodium bicarbonate is found in many OTC remedies for acid reflux. For instance, Gaviscon is an antacid containing sodium bicarbonate that provides relief from acidic stomach fluids. In a clinical trial on almost 300 people with acid reflux, this antacid eliminated heartburn for 24 hours .

Histamine receptor blockers (such as ranitidine, cimetidine, and famotidine) and proton pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole and lansoprazole) are also available over the counter. Although their effects on stomach acids are slower than those of antacids, they are also stronger and longer-lasting. In fact, a systematic review found that sodium bicarbonate added to omeprazole wasn’t more effective than omeprazole alone in managing acid reflux .

More severe cases may require prescription-strength versions of these drugs, medication to tighten the esophageal muscles (e.g., Baclofen), and even surgical procedures such as wrapping the upper part of the stomach around the lower part of the esophagus (fundoplication) and wrapping this region with a ring of magnetic beads (Linx device) .

To sum up, although sodium bicarbonate and other antacids have proven effectiveness in relieving mild acid reflux, they don’t help with gastroesophageal ulcers and may be ineffective in severe cases. Discuss with your doctor if sodium bicarbonate may help in your case and never use it in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

2) Exercise Performance

When muscles do not have enough oxygen, they switch to an alternative energy production process that produces lactic acid as a byproduct. The increased blood acid levels due to the buildup of this molecule interfere with energy supply to the muscles, resulting in increased fatigue and delayed recovery .

In a trial of 9 male tennis players, those who consumed sodium bicarbonate were less fatigued and had lower lactic acid levels .

In another trial on 10 amateur boxers, those who consumed sodium bicarbonate supplements landed more punches on their opponent .

In another trial on 23 people doing a judo-related exercise, sodium bicarbonate improved their performance, but increased lactate acid levels in some cases .

Sodium bicarbonate improved high-intensity endurance performance (time to exhaustion and total work done) in 2 clinical trials on 42 cyclists. It also reduced the time to complete 2000 m in a trial on 20 male rowers. However, it had no effect on power and endurance in another trial on 10 motocross cyclists .

In another trial on 13 well-trained men, sodium bicarbonate increased performance in a high-intensity intermittent training by reducing fatigue perception .

Several meta-analyses concluded that repeated intake of sodium bicarbonate may slightly improve exercise performance. However, one of them noted that the effects were lower in well-trained people .

Taken together, the evidence suggests that sodium bicarbonate may help improve athletic performance. You may discuss it with your doctor if it’s a good idea to incorporate it into your training routine.

3) Oral Health

Cavities-causing bacteria such as Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli damage the enamel by releasing acids. Sodium bicarbonate oral products may help prevent cavities by neutralizing these acids, as seen in a clinical trial on 20 people using bicarbonate-containing chewing gum. In addition, they may have antibacterial activity. Toothpaste with sodium bicarbonate reduced the salivary counts of these bacteria in a clinical trial on 10 people .

In a clinical trial on 135 people with gum disease, toothpaste with 67% sodium bicarbonate was more effective at reducing bleeding and inflammation .

In 8 clinical trials, oral hygiene products containing sodium bicarbonate were better at plaque removal during tooth brushing .

Sodium bicarbonate also polishes and removes stains from liquids such as coffee, tea, and wine from the teeth. Its teeth-whitening effectiveness is not only due to its abrasiveness, since bicarbonate toothpaste removed stains better than those with more abrasive substances such as silica in 2 clinical trials on almost 200 people .

Bad breath is usually caused by sulfur-producing bacteria feasting on bits of remaining food particles. Sodium bicarbonate not only helps kill these bacteria, but also eliminates foul odor .

All in all, the evidence suggests several benefits of oral healthcare products with sodium bicarbonate. You may discuss with your doctor if they are appropriate in your case.

4) Kidney Disease

In people with chronic kidney disease, the kidneys are unable to properly filter blood. Weaker kidneys cause a buildup of toxins in the blood. People with chronic kidney disease have increased blood acidity levels, which are in turn associated with increased progression of the disease .

In people with chronic kidney disease, oral supplementation with sodium bicarbonate may slow down the progression of the condition, as seen in 2 clinical trials on almost 200 people and a meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials .

The injection of contrast media for MRI imaging procedures is a common cause of hospital-acquired kidney injury. While some meta-analyses found that hydration with sodium bicarbonate was better than a regular salt solution to prevent this complication, others pointed out the low quality and high heterogeneity of most studies with positive results. More recently, sodium bicarbonate was found ineffective at improving the outcome in people with hospital-acquired kidney disease .

Similarly, 4 meta-analyses found that sodium bicarbonate doesn’t reduce the incidence of kidney injury from heart surgery and may even increase ICU stay. However, one of them found it may reduce its severity and the need for dialysis .

While its role in preventing kidney damage from medical procedures is, at best, unclear, the evidence suggests that sodium bicarbonate may help slow down the progression of chronic kidney disease by reducing metabolic acidosis. You may take it for this purpose if your doctor determines it may help you. Because chronic kidney disease is a serious condition, never use sodium bicarbonate in place of what your doctor recommends or prescribes.

Insufficient Evidence

The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of sodium bicarbonate for any of the below-listed uses. Remember to speak with a doctor before taking sodium bicarbonate. It should never be used as a replacement for approved medical therapies.

1) Insulin Sensitivity

In 2 studies on 18 healthy postmenopausal women and 7 people with hyperparathyroidism, sodium bicarbonate reduced insulin resistance, suggesting it may help prevent diabetes .

In a clinical trial on 145 people with chronic kidney disease, the correction of their metabolic acidosis with sodium bicarbonate also increased insulin sensitivity .

However, sodium bicarbonate did not improve insulin sensitivity or blood sugar levels in 2 clinical trials on almost 200 non-diabetic people .

A few clinical trials with mixed results don’t allow us to draw conclusions on the effects of sodium bicarbonate on insulin sensitivity. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to shed some light on this subject.

2) Skin Health

In a clinical trial on 96 people stung by a jellyfish (Chrysaora chinensis), topical sodium bicarbonate improved skin redness after 30 minutes .

Taking baths in overly acidic water can damage skin, causing a scaly appearance. For instance, public water in pools and spas is often acidic due to chlorine addition for safety purposes. Although this use is only supported by anecdotal evidence, some practitioners believe that bathing in water alkalinized with sodium bicarbonate may improve scaly skin .

Animal and Cell Research (Lack of Evidence)

No clinical evidence supports the use of sodium bicarbonate for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based research, which should guide further investigational efforts. However, the studies should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.


Sodium bicarbonate reduced the growth of common disease-causing fungi (such as those causing athlete’s foot, candidiasis, and nail infections) in test tubes .

Streptococcus is the bacteria commonly known to cause strep throat. Sodium bicarbonate killed Streptococcus bacteria when combined with sodium dodecyl sulfate in test tubes .

Note, however, that these are very preliminary results that haven’t been replicated in humans and even in animals. Further research is needed to determine if sodium bicarbonate may be of any use in fighting the infections caused by these microorganisms.


Below, we will discuss some preliminary research on sodium bicarbonate’s potential anticancer activity. Note, however, that many substances have anti-cancer effects in cells, including downright toxic chemicals like bleach. This doesn’t mean that they have any medical value. On the contrary, most substances (natural or synthetic) fail to pass further clinical trials due to a lack of safety or efficacy. Never use sodium bicarbonate to replace proven anticancer therapies.

Cancer cells have an overactive metabolism that produces high amounts of acidic waste products. Many anticancer therapies have difficulty reaching tumors due to the acidic barrier. Preliminary research suggests that combining chemotherapeutic drugs with alkalinizing substances such as sodium bicarbonate may enhance their effectiveness .

In rats and mice, oral sodium bicarbonate reduced tumor growth and spreading .

Limitations and Caveats

Many of the studies on sodium bicarbonate infusion to prevent hospital-acquired kidney disease had small sample sizes, low quality, and mixed results. Even after several meta-analyses, the effects are unclear.

The effects of sodium bicarbonate on insulin sensitivity have only been studied in a few, small studies with mixed results. The evidence to support the use of sodium bicarbonate in skin health comes from a single clinical trial and some anecdotal evidence. Larger, more robust clinical trials are needed to confirm these preliminary results.

The potential role of sodium bicarbonate to fight infections and cancer has only been investigated in animals and cells, meaning there is no evidence that the results may be the same in humans.

Side Effects & Precautions

This list does not cover all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other side effects.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. In the US, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Oral sodium bicarbonate is generally safe at normal doses. In rare cases, it may cause :

  • Digestive issues (loss of appetite, bloating, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps)
  • Headache
  • Fatigue, nervousness, or mood changes
  • Increased urge to drink or urinate
  • Slow breathing
  • Leg swelling

Its rapid or prolonged intravenous administration may cause metabolic disorders such as metabolic alkalosis, high blood carbon dioxide levels (hypercapnia), low blood potassium (hypokalemia), calcium (hypocalcemia), and chloride (hypochloremia), and high blood sodium (hypernatremia) .

In people with chronic kidney disease, high blood bicarbonate levels for sustained periods are associated with an increased risk of heart failure .

Sodium bicarbonate does not seem to be effective for newborns with problems related to blood acid levels and sudden loss of heart function .

Due to the lack of safety data, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid sodium bicarbonate unless their doctors think that the potential benefits outweigh the risks.

People with a history of heart disease, kidney disease, or electrolyte imbalances should consult their doctors before taking sodium bicarbonate.

Drug Interactions

Supplement/Herb/Nutrient-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.

Sodium bicarbonate is known to interact with many drugs. Contact your doctor before using sodium bicarbonate if you are on prescription drugs. Some of its known interactions include:



Sodium bicarbonate is available on the market in the forms of:

  • Baking soda
  • OTC antacid tablets, granules, powder, and liquid solutions


The common oral dose for sodium bicarbonate used in human studies is 500 mg, 3x/day. Depending on the severity of the condition, experts recommend 325-2000 mg, 1x-4x/day. Discuss with your doctor which dose is most suitable to you based on your health status .

In people with metabolic acidosis, sodium bicarbonate is infused at doses of 50-150 mEq/L (moderate acidosis) or 90-180 mEq/L (severe acidosis) over 1-1.5 hours. Because infused sodium bicarbonate is only given in a clinical setting, your doctor will determine the best treatment regime.

User Experiences

The opinions expressed in this section are solely those of sodium bicarbonate users, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. Their reviews do not represent the opinions of SelfDecode. SelfDecode does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment.

Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on SelfDecode. We understand that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified healthcare provider.

Most users used sodium bicarbonate for digestive issues such as heartburn and indigestion. They generally reported fast relief after 30 minutes, often followed by a painless bowel movement.

Many users complained about the unpleasant salty taste when sodium bicarbonate is mixed with water. In a few cases, the users reported not noticing any effects.

Some users applied sodium bicarbonate to improve skin Inflammation from insect bites and damage from sunburn. They generally reported good results in relieving the pain. Similarly, some people used shampoos with sodium bicarbonate to improve hair smoothness and moisture with generally good results.

05 FebCrack Cocaine: Addiction, Side Effects and Treatment

Whether through television, movies, or music, we’ve all heard of it, but exactly what is crack cocaine, and what are the effects of crack on both individual and society? To determine its makeup, its symptoms, and its effects, we first have to look at a bit of drug history. Cocaine, long used both medically and illicitly, has always been considered a rich-man’s drug for its high prices. In the early 1980s, crack sought to close the divide between rich and poor and make available to lower-income individuals a powerfully addictive drug. In so doing, however, the crack market proved irresistible to regular drug users and new entrants as well. This meant that both addict and schoolchild alike were now at risk of crack addiction because its cost was so low. The problem? With time, users became addicted, and the increased amounts needed because of diminishing returns made crack a much more expensive – and dangerous – endeavor than ever imagined.

The Use and Side Effects of Crack

Where cocaine is most commonly insufflated (snorted), the devastating effects of crack are linked to its preferred manner of use: freebasing (smoking). Furthermore, where cocaine usually comes in powder form, crack comes in crystals (rocks). This is on account of the process by which cocaine is chemically altered to become crack, which involves mixing cocaine with a base such as household baking soda and later cooking it. Doing so allows the sodium bicarbonate in crack to react with the hydrochloride in cocaine, creating an oily substance necessitating its formation intro a crack rock. This new substance produces a stronger high on account of its high potency (higher than even traditional cocaine) and its method of delivery. Smoking crack allows the drug to reach the brain more quickly, bringing with it a more intense and pronounced high.

In the short term, while crack triggers the release of dopamine, thus inducing euphoria, it can cause paranoia, sleeplessness, restlessness, anxiety, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and upon coming down from a high, depression. In the long term, the symptoms and side effects of crack cocaine use are much more pronounced. They include:

  • Blood vessel constriction
  • Increasingly violent behavior
  • Permanent scarring and damage to the lungs
  • Cardiac arrest
  • A high likelihood of addiction, particularly when considering that crack cocaine is thought by many to be the most addictive form of cocaine

The Need for Crack Rehab

The years of corrosive damage that crack may level upon an individual and his family make the need for crack rehab about as absolute a certainty as you’ll find in the addiction treatment world. Crack addiction takes hold of an individual in a manner that may require not only the aid of a certified addiction professional, but admission into a detox facility as well in order to better manage the realities of withdrawal from crack. Such detox may be necessary because the symptoms of crack withdrawal can range from chest pains and psychosis to the threat of physical harm to oneself.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of crack addiction, take care to consider the need for crack cocaine addiction treatment. It will prove invaluable in loosening the grip that crack cocaine has on both you and your family. And the next time someone asks you, “What is crack cocaine?” take the time to explain how truly damaging this drug can be. Doing so may deter yet another at-risk individual from considering its use, which is no small victory in the fight against addiction.

The Effects of Crack Use

Table of Contents Authored By American Addiction Centers Editorial Staff Reviewed By Erik MacLaren, PhD

Is Crack Harmful?

Since it first appeared on the illicit drug scene during the 1980s, crack cocaine has solidified its reputation as one of the most addictive substances available on the street. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, part of its popularity is due to the fact that almost anyone can make it, provided that he has the right tools. Additionally, it can be produced in smaller, easily transported quantities that are cheaper to buy than powdered cocaine. A common method of production involves mixing cocaine with ammonia, baking soda and water. As the water dissolves, dried crystals, known as crack cocaine, form.

Users typically insufflate (snort) or first dissolve in solution, then inject powdered cocaine. However, people who use crack typically smoke the substance. While uncommon, crack can also be dissolved in aqueous solution and injected, similarly to its powdered counterpart. Smoking the drug produces a faster, more intense high than snorting does because it reaches the bloodstream and brain more quickly. However, the effects of smoking cocaine are shorter in duration, lasting only 5 to 10 minutes verses 15 to 30 minutes for insufflated powder.

It’s never too late to begin your recovery. Learn more.

Some of the potential dangers associated with using crack include:

  • Lung damage.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Increased blood pressure.
  • Tachycardia or racing heart beat.
  • Onset of psychotic symptoms.

Crack Effects Quiz question 1

Treatment Advisors Are On Call 24/7 Who Answers? Thinking About Getting Rehab?

Short-Term Effects of Crack

While users claim to feel euphoric or high when using crack, there are some paradoxical drawbacks to using crack; the initial euphoria can quickly turn to feelings of depression and paranoia.

The short-term physical and mental effects of using crack are generally more intense than the effects from snorting powdered cocaine and are similar to what is experienced when injecting cocaine. These effects are also similar to other commonly abused stimulants such as methamphetamine.

Because crack is produced in unregulated settings from cocaine of inconsistent purity and quality, the precise effects vary greatly, but generally include:

  • Euphoric “rush.”
  • Increased alertness.
  • Excited state.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils.
  • Increased heart rate.
  • Intense craving for another dose shortly after the high subsides.

While users claim to feel euphoric or high when using crack, there are some paradoxical drawbacks to using crack for any length of time—the initial euphoria can quickly turn to feelings of depression and paranoia.

People experiencing crack-induced paranoia might find themselves thinking that someone is trying to get into their house, that someone is following them, or that others are trying to attack them. This can lead to aggressive behavior or unprovoked attacks on others and lead to dangerous situations for both the user and innocent bystanders.

Crack Effects Quiz question 2

Crack Effects Quiz question 3

Side Effects

The fleeting high from smoking crack can be outweighed by a host of negative effects. Though these can vary as widely as the positive effects listed above, commonly reported side effects include:

  • Irritability.
  • Anxiety.
  • Headache.
  • Depression.
  • Aggressive, paranoid behavior.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Sudden death due to heart attack or stroke.

Potential for Crack Cocaine Addiction

According to an article in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, crack use is associated with a higher rate of dependence than use of powdered cocaine.

Crack cocaine gives the user an intense, euphoric feeling. The first time a person uses crack, he or she feels an initial high that cannot be recreated by subsequent use. Users sometimes describe this as a feeling unlike anything else in the world.

Once the person experiences this initial high, he may spend years trying to chase this feeling as tolerance to the drug effects develop rapidly. In these attempts, he may take increasing amounts, putting himself of risk of overdose.

This pattern of compulsively chasing an elusive euphoric feeling is a fundamental component leading to a diagnosable mental condition known formally as ‘crack use disorder’—but, more commonly as addiction. It can only take one use for a person to be well on their way to forming an addiction to crack.

Video: Crack Cocaine and Your Brain

The following video shows how your brain is affected by crack cocaine use and how using it can lead to dependence, addiction, and an array of negative effects.

Credit: AsapScience

To learn more, visit our blog, Crack Cocaine’s Effect on Brain.

Crack Effects Quiz question 4

Long-Term Effects of Crack

In addition to negative short-term effects, long-term crack cocaine abuse can have even more pronounced drawbacks that affect users even when they are not getting high.

A short list of the most serious effects includes:

  • Ever-increasing tolerance.
  • Severe, unpleasant withdrawal syndrome.
  • Mood disorders including depression.
  • Delirium.
  • Psychotic symptoms, including auditory and tactile hallucinations, and/or paranoid delusions.
  • Addiction.

Some users experience a problem that abusers refer to as “coke bugs” or “crack bugs.” This is a type of tactile hallucination – also called formication – that makes the abuser feel like bugs are crawling on or below his skin. The user might have long scratch marks on the surface of his or her skin, caused by scratching in an effort to get rid of the bugs. Such hallucinations can make it impossible to sleep, and the resulting sleep deprivation contributes to the user’s disordered, delusional thinking.

Lasting Health Effects

Long-term crack cocaine use risks not only the mental effects listed previously but also serious risks to an individual’s health. Some lasting health effects of crack cocaine smoking include:

  • Cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
  • Seizures or convulsions.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Reproductive damage and infertility.
  • Malnutrition.
  • “Crack lip,” which refers to the painful blistering, bruising, and cracked lips caused by repeated exposure to the hot temperature of the crack pipe as it is pressed against the lips.
  • Oral issues including infection, tooth decay, broken and yellow teeth.
  • Systemic toxicity resulting from inhalation of harmful fumes from the ammonia or other volatile compounds used in the creation of the crack.
  • Increased risk of developing an acute injury to the lungs known as “crack lung.” The crack cocaine smoke constricts blood vessels in the lungs, preventing proper circulation in these delicate organs. Over time, permanent damage and scarring can occur, which result in difficulty breathing and chest pain.
  • Damage to the kidneys, heart, and liver.
  • Neglect of daily life and responsibilities.
  • Sleep deprivation.

Crack Effects Quiz question 5

Crack Dependency

Because crack use itself is known to cause depression and anxiety, using it to alleviate the onset of these feelings becomes a vicious cycle—one that can quickly result in addiction.

People of any age and gender can become dependent on crack. Crack dependency occurs after users develop a tolerance to the drug and begin using more often and in larger amounts to achieve the desired effects.

This frequent exposure to crack cocaine causes users to depend on this substance to help them avoid negative moods and feelings; those ensnared by a crack dependency will experience extreme anxiety when they are not able to obtain the drug. Because crack use itself is known to cause depression and anxiety, using it to alleviate the onset of these feelings becomes a vicious cycle—one that can quickly result in addiction.

The pleasurable or euphoric short-term effect of the drug can usher a user towards addiction after using it just once.

Crack Effects Quiz question 6

Crack Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment

Although withdrawal from crack specifically – and cocaine in general – does not cause as many physical symptoms as other recreational drugs, the psychological effects of stopping use can be quite intense, including:

  • Depression.
  • Irritability.
  • Fatigue.
  • Anxiety.
  • Craving for more crack.
  • Psychosis.

Inpatient treatment centers are a desirable choice for many crack abusers because these centers keep the user away from the drug and anyone using it. Inpatient programs can also provide the intensive counseling and therapy many people require to recover from crack cocaine addiction. Additional aftercare or sober living programs can help ex-abusers maintain their sobriety and rebuild their lives once they leave the safety of inpatient treatment.

Addiction is not a disease that should be faced alone. If you or someone you love needs help addressing a problem with crack cocaine, you can call 1-888-744-0069Who Answers? any time of the day for a safe and anonymous way to find treatment facilities in your state.


Last updated on July 5, 2019 2019-07-05T15:11:48+00:00 Finding the perfect treatment is only one phone call away!

‘Baking soda bombs’ show the extreme strength of addiction

Drug offenders will go to extreme lengths to hide their addiction, even drinking a potentially lethal concoction of baking soda and bleach to fabricate a drug test.

The concept of adulterating a drug test is hardly new, but the latest trend for Mitchell drug offenders on probation involves drinking a mixture of bleach, baking soda and water. Those who try what’s been called a “baking soda bomb” supposedly believe it will result in a clean or negative urine analysis test.

Mitchell-area law enforcement, treatment providers and medical professionals are well-tuned into this increasingly popular fad, but it’s proving hard to track.

Though, what’s clear is drug arrests in South Dakota continue to increase. According to the South Dakota Attorney General’s annual law enforcement report, drug arrests increased 12.5 percent from 2015 to 2016 with 7,671 reported cases.

That leads to more people on probation and more instances in which offenders may try to falsify their urinalysis tests.

“If someone complains about feeling very ill or suddenly has an upset stomach during their urine analysis test, that usually is a sign,” said Chief Court Services Officer for the First Judicial Circuit Ron Freeman.

According to Freeman, three probationers admitted to using baking soda to try and falsify a test, but there is no way to know for certain how many people have tried to use the method.

Those who try a “baking soda bomb” believe the masking agent in baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, will cover up the use of methamphetamine in a urine sample.

“This shows the strength of the addiction,” said Janae Oetken, clinical supervisor at Stepping Stones in Mitchell. “If someone is going to go to this kind of extreme, it’s a pretty strong desire to want to continue using.”

Reported incidents of probationers using baking soda to render a test are “minimal,” according to local officials. Drug Court Services Officer Tim Moon said random urine test can analyzed through pH levels to see if a substance, such as baking soda, is being used.

A deadly combination

Drinking a bottle of baking soda, bleach and water trying to falsify a drug test can come with medical consequences, and there is no evidence it works.

“If someone is drinking bleach and baking soda – it could kill them,” said Darla Edinger, a doctor at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell who works at the hospital’s urine drug and screen program.

Urine analysis tests are used to look for all common street drugs, including methamphetamine, Edinger said.

“If someone is taking baking soda or bleach, it is not going to stop the drugs from being detected if sent to a lab,” Edinger said.

Edinger explained drinking baking soda or bleach will not mask drugs already absorbed in the body’s system. At best, the mixture may hide drugs recently consumed within a few hours. Additionally, a person who consumes a combination of baking soda or bleach will typically report stomach aches and diarrhea.

The physical after-effect symptoms is one clear indicator to probation and court service officers a person is using baking soda.

Tracking the tests

The increase use of methamphetamine in South Dakota and in Mitchell continues to be an issue law enforcement and court services must manage. When Senate Bill 70 passed in 2013, more non-violent drug offenders were sentenced to presumptive probation rather than prison. As part of standard probation, Drug and DUI Court, and HOPE probation, participants will frequently be asked to take urine analysis tests to comply with court orders to stay sober.

Court services in the First Judicial Circuit currently supervises 868 adult and juvenile probationers, 146 adult Drug and DUI Court probationers and juvenile intensive probationers, and 111 adult probationers enrolled in the Offender Link Call in System, according to Freeman.

This means there are a lot of people submitting to urinalysis tests on a weekly basis.

Stepping Stones performs approximately 35 to 50 tests a week, Davison County Jail performs between 50 to 75 tests a week, and court services for the First Judicial Court does not track weekly tests but ordered 8,950 drug kits last year.

There are other options for drug testing including a sweat patch or an ankle bracelet, but a urine analysis test is “simply put: cost effective,” Oetken said.

Failure to pass a urine analysis can result in a person losing bond, be a condition for a probation violation or a jail sanction for 48 hours.

“What is the negative reinforcement for people that are using drugs? Legally not much. They get a fine, they get a record,” Oetken said. “I am not saying prison is the answer. But for some of these people they just do not want to change.”

Mitchell Police Sgt. Joel Reinesch said he became aware of “baking soda bombs” earlier this year through discussions with probation officers, but he said the police department does not administer many urine analysis tests to offenders.

“Right now, meth is king,” Reinesch said. “So many things evolve in the drug world that we have to be tuned in to.”

Baking soda and or bleach appears to be popular in Mitchell now, officials said, but local experts are continuing to learn new methods drug offenders will attempt to hide their addiction.

But according to Oetken, people will try and get away with fabricating a drug test but eventually it will catch up to them.

“You almost have to be on the same line of criminal thinking with them,” Oetken said. “There is always going to be something different. It happens to be baking soda right now.”

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