Cocaine is a drug that is made from the leaves of the coca shrub.In the United States and the UK the most common form of cocaine is a white crystalline powder.

Crack cocaine is the smokeable form of cocaine, which has been made into small lumps, commonly known as rocks.Crack cocaine is usually smoked in a glass tube, pipe, plastic bottle or foil and it gets its name from the cracking sound it makes when it is burnt.Crack cocaine may also be prepared for injection.Freebasing refers to the manufacturing process, during which cocaine hydrochloride powder is dissolved in water and then heated with a chemical reagent, such as ammonia or baking soda.This frees the cocaine alkaloid base from the salt, without which the drug is more combustible and produces increased volumes of cocaine containing smoke.

When cocaine is snorted the active ingredient takes effect in approximately three minutes, but when crack cocaine is smoked the effects of the drug are felt in a matter of seconds, so the user achieves a high more quickly.According to an article in the Sunday Times in July 2009 the only places where crack cocaine had really gained a hold was in deprived communities, amongst people who had little to lose; this included some of the biggest cities in the UK.

Cocaine is brought into the UK in many ways. The sea routes between Venezuela and Brazil and West Africa are favoured, because the chances of the smuggler being caught are low. From there, a high volume of the drug is smuggled into major European ports, such as Rotterdam or Barcelona, from where it crosses the Channel.

People suffering from crack cocaine addiction can seek and find help from a number of addiction treatment centres.