What exactly does crack look like and other than a pipe what are other signs it’s being used?



I’m pretty sure my son is using again or at least was in the recent past. I’m familiar with identifying his use of heroin and meth but don’t know much about crack which he has also used in the past. Any tell-tale signs to watch for?


Hey Lisa, regarding the first part of the question, crack looks like small rocks, chips, or chunks that are off white, white, or sometimes a pinkish color. It is a rock form of cocaine which can be smoked with a pipe, as well as with a straw and tin foil. When it is smoked there is a crackling sound made. The signs are similar to methamphetamine, but very different from heroin.

Regarding the second part about signs to watch out for, below are some identifiers to look for that indicate potential crack cocaine use:

  1. An intense burst of energy (if they were low energy earlier then went into their room and came out with a lot of energy, it could be because they used)
  2. Dilated pupils (the pupil becomes so big that you can barely see the eye color)
  3. Sudden suppression of appetite
  4. Muscle twitches
  5. Potential nose bleeds
  6. Blistered or burned lips from using a crack pipe
  7. Burns on hands from using a crack pipe
  8. Restlessness
  9. Excessive scratching due to hallucinations that they have things crawling on them (they could have scratch wounds on their arms or hands
  10. Mood swings and amplified aggression
  11. Weight loss
  12. Damaged mouth teeth and lips

While I don’t have personal experience with crack in my family, I do with my loved one smoking heroin. His lips were cracked, his teeth were destroyed from smoking the heated drug on tin foil, and he had visible burns that were definitely not cigarette burns!

It can be scary, but this is a great question because if you know the signs to look for you have the ability to intervene with knowledge! Keep in mind that not everyone shows these signs written above. And if he hasn’t used frequently he may not show these signs. Is he exhibiting any other behaviors that are abnormal for him?


Hi there @LisaMarie! Checking back in here. How are you doing? How is your son?


Hey LisaMarie! I am responding to your question about crack usage. There are so many “symptoms” or signs that are listed all over the internet about what it looks like when your loved one is using crack but none of that matched up with my husband and his usage.
He disappears for awhile, hours at a time, is deceitful, somehow needs money when you know he doesnt really, has a random errand to run when it doesnt make sense, burns on finger tips, palms, even lips. Crack can be handed off without a baggie or anything so sometimes there is no “evidence” of that. Look for something called chore-its basically a copper coated steel wool cleaning pad that is torn up and put in the end of a glass pipe. Hopefully this helps because I know the other symptoms and signs are more from a medical stand point that you wouldnt know unless he is with you as he is getting high. Oh, desperation is a big one too.