What is Freebasing? Dangers and Potential Health Risks


From television shows, movies, literature, and pop culture, the ramifications of excessive drug use may seem fictional to many people. However, it is a real thing that people go through all over the world. And if you are quite unfamiliar with the complex world of drug addiction, certain terminologies may bewilder you. An excellent example of this is the term “freebasing,” which we will be discussing in this article. 

What is Freebasing?

The term “freebasing” refers to a method of boosting the potency of a narcotic, most often cocaine. It is a term used to describe one of the apparent displays of drug abuse. This specific act is demonstrated using a glass pipe, in which the user heats the drug’s basic form until it boils. They then inhale the vapors to get a stronger “high.”

Cocaine hydrochloride (HCL), or simply cocaine, is a crystalline drug that is not injected, rarely smoked, but most commonly snorted. Basically, the cocaine base is liberated from the salt form during freebasing, resulting in a greater effect when smoked or injected.

The act of inhaling the vapor produced by heating or boiling base cocaine is known as freebasing. This is not the same as smoking crack cocaine or attempting to consume powdered cocaine. Rather, its process of vaporizing freebase cocaine involves the employment of a glass pipe and inhaling its vaporized smoke. To speed up the boiling process, a trace of copper is typically added to the pipe.

While many different types of cocaine take longer to enter the bloodstream and brain, freebasing offers an option that could be more convenient than injecting the drug. Essentially, it removes impurities and chemical components from cocaine hydrochloride and produces a more powerful ‘high’ than other approaches. It has a low melting point, is non-toxic, and works instantly.

What Drugs are Commonly Freebased?

The most commonly used free-based substance is cocaine. Other substances with the potential to be freebase include nicotine and opioids, which are both highly accessible to adults all over the world. To increase the strength of nicotine and opioids, users simply freebase them. To add, individuals also have the option, similar to cocaine, to receive a large dose of a drug. 

Some people may even be surprised to learn that commercial cigarettes contain nicotine in their freebase form. To boost nicotine bioavailability to the brain, lungs, and tissues, cigarette producers add diammonium phosphate to the nicotine. Fortunately, going cold turkey or cutting down on nicotine and cigarettes improves the transport of therapeutic chemical compounds through membranes.

Beyond cocaine, nicotine, and opioids, meth may also be used through the method of freebasing. The hydrochloride salt of methamphetamine is known, for short, as meth, while crystal meth is methamphetamine that has crystallized. This version is purer and simpler to smoke than the original, but it is not a true freebase. Oil is the purest form of methamphetamine freebase, which is highly rare.

Is Freebasing a More Effective Method of Getting High?

As freebasing produces a vaporized version of the drug, a big surge is followed by a long-lasting high. When breathed, it causes a warm surge throughout the body, which many users believe is comparable to a sexual orgasm.

The effects of freebase are more potent and immediate than those of powder cocaine and will begin seconds after inhalation. When compared to inhaled or snorted cocaine, the effects start around one hour later. After the initial surge, the effects are equivalent to sniffing cocaine.

Freebasing cocaine

Smoking or freebasing crack cocaine is popular among cocaine users because it produces a stronger “high.” That is why cocaine freebasing is riskier. Aside from its strength, cocaine is commonly mixed with additional harmful chemicals like fentanyl or synthetic opioids.

Such a “high” effect increases the potency of freebasing as well as the rate of cocaine overdose and addiction. As such, it is vital to recognize the hazards and symptoms of addiction when using drugs, particularly pure cocaine or freebasing.

Freebasing Short Term and Long Term Effects

Users have the tendency to abuse drugs such as cocaine because of the addictive and euphoric high it gives. Because of the initial ascent and quick ascension, consumers should bear the risk that comes with taking this drug. Additionally, traditional powder cocaine takes an hour to reach its peak, whereas freebasing takes seconds. The longer-lasting high is equivalent to regular cocaine use. But most importantly, you must note that freebasing cocaine, like crack, is extremely addictive and fatal for almost anybody. The following are some of the short-term repercussions of freebasing cocaine:

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Irritability
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Paranoia
  • Hypertension
  • Pupils become dilated
  • Uncontrollable shaking or chills
  • Restlessness
  • Twitching of dilated blood vessels
  • Increased body temperature
  • Excessive sweating
  • Enhanced vitality
  • Hyper-alertness

Health Risks of Freebasing

Keep in mind that there are serious health concerns associated with freebasing. For one, the powerful cerebral surge associated with freebasing raises the risk of addiction. Another health risk comes from facial burns due to the cracked pipes used, and this may also substantially increase a user’s risk of developing HIV/Hepatitis.

Smoking cocaine does not have the same effect on the nasal passages as snorting. However, if cocaine is smoked or vaporized and inhaled, it can be harmful to the lungs. Long-term freebasers may face the following challenges:

  • Cushing’s Syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Increased likelihood of pneumonia
  • Alterations in lung capacity
  • Lung deterioration

Tobacco use increases the likelihood of getting smoking-related illnesses. Similarly, cocaine usage, whether chronic or severe, increases the risk of acquiring movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as cognitive impairment such as memory loss and attention deficit. With that, freebasing is as dangerous as snorting or injecting cocaine. 

  • Blood-transmitted Infections

Cigarette smoking can cause burns, scratches, and open sores on the lips. This is why sharing a pipe raises your risk of catching bloodborne infections like Hepatitis C and HIV.

  • Serious Heart Issues

Cocaine, in any form, is a highly stimulating drug that can be harmful to your heart and body. If you already have hypertension or cardiac problems, this is very harmful.

  • Overdosing

When cocaine is abused in a variety of ways, overdose is likely to happen. As a user’s body adjusts to higher dosages, they will push their bodies to increase their drug intake, which could lead to overdose and death. As such, cocaine was implicated in 13,942 of the 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017, according to the CDC.

Other Health Concerns Brought by Freebasing

On top of that, freebasing may also lead to a significant reduction in coronary blood flow, and such a condition may be lethal to one’s health. Cocaine abusers face a slew of health risks, including the following:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Acute coronary syndrome 
  • Hematoma caused by a stroke
  • Aneurysmal rupture
  • Endocarditis
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Myocarditis


Once reality strikes, you must be able to distinguish fact from fiction because it is sometimes just not all about what you see on the television or in movies. This notion applies to addiction, drug use, and methods for potential drug abuse such as freebasing. And with this newfound knowledge about freebasing, you must muster up the full confidence to seek addiction treatment or keep a healthy lifestyle that is drug-free. Additionally, keep on the lookout for friends and family who may be led astray from a normal or ideal state of being. Do not ever let you or someone you know fall trapped in the world of addiction and drug use!