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Definition of the Slang Term Basehead

Basehead is street slang for a person who smokes freebase crack cocaine. “Freebase” refers to the smokable form of cocaine, which comes in the form of crack cocaine, a hard, rock-like substance. Powder cocaine is actually cocaine hydrochloride, which is a water-soluble salt form of the drug. Because it’s a salt, powder cocaine can be absorbed into the body, therefore it can be snorted or injected. Powder cocaine can be smoked but is not an effective method of using the drug.

Due to the fear of using infected needles, cocaine users began treating powder cocaine with chemicals to free the cocaine base from the hydrochloride. The result was a hard rock or lump of crack cocaine that was more easily smoked. Smoking crack cocaine produces an almost immediate feeling of getting high. An initial “rush” of very pleasurable feeling lasts about two minutes followed by an intense high that lasts for about 30 minutes.

Intense High, Intense Low

But, the pleasurable effects of crack cocaine wear off quickly, more quickly than when powder cocaine is snorted or injected. As it high wears off, the user begins to experience some very unpleasant after-effects, including feeling:

Definition of the Slang Term Basehead
  • Tired, depressed or anxious
  • Head and body aches
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Irritability
  • Hunger
  • Panic attacks
Definition of the Slang Term Basehead

Repeated, Compulsive Use

The after-effects of smoking crack are so unpleasant, users often immediately smoke more of the drug to keep from coming down. This repeated, compulsive use can easily lead to chemical dependency upon the drug. Smoking the freebase form of cocaine is called “freebasing” and those who quickly become addicted to smoking crack are called crack heads or baseheads.

Develop Problems Quicker/Definition of the Slang Term Basehead

Baseheads develop problems much quicker than users who snort cocaine. Those who smoke crack will begin to report problems with their drug use after an average of six months, whereas powder cocaine users typically report problems after an average of two years.

The term “basehead” is one of more than 2,300 street terms that refer to specific drug types or drug activity compiled by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.