Crack is the crystal form of cocaine, between 75% and 100% pure. It is therefore the most powerful form of cocaine. In this form, it is heated and smoked. It’s sold as an odorless white or yellow powder or in small chunks. It’s called crack because of the noise it makes when being heated. Other names for it include snow coke, rocks, black rock, chemical, candy, nuggets, gravel, and grit.
The US National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that 8.6 million Americans aged 12 and older reported having used crack cocaine. In the late 20th century, crack began to appear in the United States. It was initially designed to be less expensive than regular cocaine since it could be sold in smaller amounts, increasing profits for the producers. Crack can be detected in the blood for only a few hours, in the urine for about 4 days, but in the hair follicle for about 3 months.
Since it’s smoked, it’s able to reach the brain more quickly. This provides an immediate and intense high that lasts about 15 minutes. It is possible to become addicted after only one use of crack. Crack is cheaper than cocaine, but the habit becomes very expensive as more and more is needed to satisfy the addiction. Crack offers the user a burst of energy, a feeling of euphoria, a sense of increased self-importance, and an escape from reality.
Crack is not easy on the body. Smoking crack cocaine results in a greatly increased heart rate or even a heart attack or stroke. Muscle spasms and convulsions can also be caused by using crack. Because crack is heated and smoked and the crack pipe is usually very short, users may suffer wounds on their lips. This is known as crack lip and comes from touching the lips to the hot crack pipe.
Smoking crack also damages the lungs. This results in crack lung. Effects of crack lung include coughing, inflammation of the lungs, shortness of breath, bleeding, symptoms associated with pneumonia, actually developing a life-threatening form of pneumonia, and even respiratory failure.
Long-term use of crack can also result in damage to the heart, liver and kidneys. Daily use may result in malnutrition, loss of appetite, increased blood pressure, increased body temperature, disturbed sleep patterns, and nausea.
Aside from damage to the user, a woman who smokes crack while pregnant will damage her unborn child as well. Such babies, known as crack babies, may suffer from brain damage or heart attack. Early in pregnancy, smoking crack may cause a miscarriage.
Like most drugs, the euphoria received from using crack cocaine last only a few minutes and is soon replaced by a feeling of depression, edginess and a strong craving to use again. Feelings of anger, paranoia and anxiety may also occur. The longer the person uses crack, the worse they will feel afterwards. Feelings of depression will get worse, even to the point of suicide. They may even suffer from hallucinations. The craving can get so strong that the user will do anything, even commit murder, in order to get the drug. One of the other most dangerous drugs, meth, provides an intense euphoria like crack, but it lasts about one day, as opposed to the crack high which last only a few minutes.
Using crack intensifies sexual desires while lowering inhibitions resulting in risky sexual behaviors such as having sex with multiple partners. They may also trade sex for the drug. Because using crack cocaine intensifies emotions, people who are using crack may abuse family members or even harm themselves. Because the craving for crack gets so powerful, the user may go to dangerous places or agree to do dangerous things, such as robbery or prostitution, in order to get a fix. Indeed, the crack user will do almost anything to get more of their drug. It is not surprising that the user will neglect their responsibilities, since their only real concern is getting more crack. These behaviors are a good sign for family and friends to recognize that a loved one is addicted to crack.
The user will display agitation, aggression and may even become violent. Because of changes in brain chemistry caused by using crack, the user may find themselves unable feel pleasure. They will display a strong craving for more of the drug. Other withdrawal symptoms include depression, lack of motivation, exhaustion, feelings of paranoia, irritability, restlessness, mood swings, muscle aches, psychosis, hallucinations, vivid nightmares and suicidal feelings. These symptoms will start within hours of the last use of crack and can last days, weeks or even months, depending upon the severity of the crack use. Cravings may occasionally appear even after years of sobriety.
During the last couple of years, people have begun selling fake crack, also known as “beat“. They begin with a common drug used to treat tooth pain, then boil it down and bottle it for a few dollars. It looks like crack, so users can be tricked. Some people ball up white bread into small solid pieces and sell it is crack. Since what they are selling is not a controlled substance, the police must release persons arrested for selling fake crack. However, when an addict purchases fake crack and is unable to get their fix, it can sometimes be the perfect catalyst to cause them to realize that they need treatment for their addiction.
Treatment begins with detox, which is best completed in a facility where doctors can monitor the more dangerous symptoms of withdrawal. After completing detox, some time should be spent in a rehab center in order to continue treatment for the addiction, as well as for any physical, emotional and mental disorders resulting from crack use. Former users will need ongoing support in order to transition back to their normal lives and learn the skills to manage their lives without crack. Participation in a self-help group will also be helpful.
Crack is a very potent crystal form of cocaine which provides an almost immediate and very intense experience of euphoria what lasts only a few minutes. Because this experience is so powerful, crack addiction may occur after only one use. The benefits of crack use are heavily outweighed by the risks and dangers of use. Crack lip, crack lung and crack babies are common results of using crack. Withdrawal can be very difficult, so crack cocaine addiction treatment is often the best course of action.
Northeast Addictions Treatment Center is a Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Center in Quincy, Massachusetts. Our team has been helping individuals with Drug or Alcohol Addiction live a life of Recovery since 2016.
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