Crack Addiction | Effects, Signs, & Treatment

Crack cocaine addiction is a serious public health crisis. Crack is highly addictive and very dangerous. Learn about treatment options and get help today.

In the United States, crack cocaine is considered one of the hardest and most addictive drugs available on the street.

This sigma often discourages those who struggle with crack cocaine addiction from getting the help they likely need. However, like any other form of drug addiction, cocaine use disorder can be addressed through evidence-based treatments methods and ongoing support.

What Is Crack Cocaine?

All crack is cocaine, but not all cocaine is crack.

Crack cocaine is a potent stimulant drug produced by dissolving powder cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride) in water and baking soda, and boiling the mixture until a solid substance is formed, cooled, and divided into chunks.

These “rocks” are not water-soluble, meaning that they can’t be dissolved or injected into the body. But they can be heated on tinfoil or put in a piper and smoked, the vaporized drug then being absorbed into the lungs and bloodstream.

This heating process causes the drug to snap and crackle, which gives crack its name.

Effects Of Smoking Crack Cocaine

While either form of cocaine will have the same basic effects on the human body, the act of smoking crack actually increases the danger of cocaine use. A much larger dose can be inhaled into the lungs and absorbed into the blood extremely quickly.

This means that crack may offer a more intense and powerful high, sending your brain’s dopamine system into overdrive and priming you to want, and crave, the experience of using crack in the future.

But because the drug is absorbed so rapidly, crack highs don’t last very long. This means the person may take repeated hits of crack as quickly as ten or fifteen minutes apart.

As a result, crack cocaine users may engage in prolonged binges to try over and over again to reach the same high. However, this can produce diminishing results and increase pain and exhaustion as the binge finally ends.

Dangers Of Crack Cocaine Use

Crack use is known to cause convulsions, seizures, and sudden death from a heart attack or other cardiovascular failures, even the first time it’s used.

Following a lengthy cocaine binge, individuals may experience:

  • paranoia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • suicidal thoughts
  • psychosis
  • tactile hallucinations like the feeling of bugs moving under the skin

Long-term, crack abuse can damage a person’s mental health and function as well as cause cardiovascular damage, sleep disturbances, weight loss, malnutrition, and premature aging.

Signs Of Crack Addiction

Telltale signs of recent crack cocaine abuse include:

  • hyperactivity
  • reduced inhibition and increased social impulse
  • dilated (expanded) pupils
  • shakiness
  • overconfident or aggressive behavior
  • increased breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature
  • reduced appetite

Signs of long-term, chronic use of crack cocaine may include:

  • frequent disappearances
  • burned, cracked, or blistered fingers or lips
  • hoarse voice or sore throats
  • lengthy periods of exhaustion or sleep
  • mood swings, irritability, and other unexplained personality and behavioral changes

Crack Addiction Treatment

The short- and long-term effects of crack abuse can devastate your physical, mental, and emotional health, as well as your relationships, finances, and ability to function at work or in class.

And what’s worse, while these harms may be clear and obvious to drug-free family members and loved ones around you, the addictive effects of cocaine may make it hard to care about or even recognize how much damage has already been done.

However, addiction can be treated with common treatment programs that may include:

Medical Detoxification

While dependency caused by crack cocaine is different from alcohol or methamphetamine dependence, this drug can cause mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Crack withdrawal symptoms may include restlessness, mood swings, agitation, fatigue, vivid dreams and difficulty sleeping, and intense drug cravings.

Medical detox programs can help you deal with these effects safely and with the support you need to get through withdrawal and move on to either inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Note that crack cocaine cravings can last for several weeks after your last use before gradually fading away and reemerging intermittently in the months to come.

Inpatient Treatment

Residential treatment programs are highly-structured and offer intensive care with close, long-term access to treatment staff.

Through inpatient care you can get the time and seclusion you need to work on yourself and build towards a safe and lasting recovery before you transition back home.

Outpatient Treatment

If you need a more flexible treatment program, outpatient care can give you access to professional treatment without isolating you inside a treatment facility. But be prepared to make several trips a week to meet for treatment sessions that include individual and group counseling.

Behavioral Therapy

Behavioral therapy helps you identify harmful thought patterns, habits, and triggers that contribute to your addiction. This approach then replaces these habits with healthier patterns of thinking and other beneficial coping strategies.

To learn about our treatment options for crack cocaine addiction or other substance use disorders, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

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