Article at a Glance:

  • Crack and meth are different stimulant drugs with important similarities.
  • Both crack and meth are addictive Schedule II stimulants.
  • Both crack and meth carry an overdose risk and can cause long-term health problems.

Two dangerous and all-too-often abused stimulant drugs are methamphetamine (meth) and crack. Since both act as stimulants on a person’s brain and body, it can be difficult to determine how they’re different from one another.

The following provides an overview of both meth and crack separately and highlights the difference between meth and crack.

Is Meth the Same as Crack?

Meth and crack are not the same drug. Although meth and crack have many similarities, they are separate and distinct chemical entities. They are both potent stimulants, which means they impact the brain and body in similar ways. However, their chemical differences mean that they are separate drugs with different effects, including the duration of the high they cause.

Comparing Crack & Meth

  • Other Names

    Some other names for crack include 24-7, Apple jacks, Badrock, Ball, Base, Beat, Candy, Chemical, Cloud, Cookies, Crack, Crumbs, Crunch & munch, Devil drug, Dice, Electric kool-aid, Fat bags, French fries, Glo, Gravel, Grit, Hail, Hard ball, Hard rock, Hotcakes, Ice cube, Jelly beans, Kryptonite, Nuggets, Paste, Piece, Prime time, Product, Raw, Rock(s), Rock star, Rox/Roxanne, Scrabble, Sleet, Snow coke, Sugar block, Topo (Spanish), Tornado, Troop.

    Some other names for meth include Batu, Bikers Coffee, Black Beauties, Chalk, Chicken Feed, Crank, Crystal, Glass, Go-Fast, Hiropon, Ice, Meth, Methlies Quick, Poor Man’s Cocaine, Shabu, Shards, Speed, Stove Top, Tina, Trash, Tweak, Uppers, Ventana, Vidrio, Yaba, and Yellow Bam.

  • Drug Scheduling

    Both crack and meth are Schedule II substances.

  • Drug Type

    Both crack and meth are stimulant drugs.

  • Duration of Effects

    The duration of crack’s effects tends to be around 15 minutes. Meth’s duration of effects can last up to 16 hours.

  • Ingredients

    Crack is derived from the coca plant while meth is manmade (See: What Is Meth Made Of?).

  • Appearance

    • Crack: Solid blocks or crystals of varying colors
    • Meth: Regular meth comes in pill or powder form. Crystal meth looks like glass or shiny rocks.

  • Behavioral Changes

  • Physical Changes

  • Overdose Risk

    Both, crack and meth, may led to an overdose.

Is Meth Worse Than Crack?

Meth is not a worse drug than crack, or vice-versa. Both substances are illicit drugs that carry similar health risks. These include behavioral changes and an overdose risk. A person who struggles with meth is at risk for addiction and death, just like a person who struggles with crack.

What’s The Difference Between Crack and Meth?

On a surface level, crack and meth have important differences. While meth is manmade and produces a quick rush followed by a long-lasting high, crack comes from a plant and provides a short-term high. However, the drugs have important similarities that outweigh their differences. They are both illicit stimulants that carry extreme health risks, including behavioral changes and overdose risk.

What Is Meth?

Meth is a man-made stimulant drug. It can come in various forms, including traditional meth in powder or pill form, and crystal meth which looks like glass or shiny rock fragments. Most meth available in the United States has been trafficked via Mexican drug cartels.

Meth that is made in the United States is often created with pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that is sold under the brand name Sudafed.

What Is Crack?

Crack is a type of cocaine, a natural stimulant derived from the coca plant which grows in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia. Like meth, most crack is trafficked into the United States via Mexico. Crack is the crystallized form of cocaine and is more potent than other forms of cocaine. It varies in color and can be pale pink, white or yellow.

When crack is used, it’s heated and then smoked. It gets its name from the crackling sound it makes when it’s exposed to heat.

If you or a loved one struggle with either meth or crack, don’t wait for lasting health complications or an overdose. Contact us today to discuss treatment options that can start you on the road to recovery.

  • Sources

    U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drugs of Abuse.” April 2020. Accessed April 12, 2021.

    Partnership for a Drug-Free World. “The Truth About Crystal Meth and Methamphetamine.” Accessed April 12, 2021.

    Partnership for a Drug-Free World. “The Truth About Crack Cocaine.” Accessed April 12, 2021.

  • Medical Disclaimer

    The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

    View our editorial policy or view our research.

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