Crack Cocaine Addiction
Drug addiction is a serious issue in Nevada and nationwide. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), 17% of residents living in Nevada had a substance abuse disorder, compared with 14.7% of the overall US population.1 Furthermore, in Nevada, drug-related offenses accounted for 26.2% of primary offenses in 2016; out of the drugs listed in this category, crack cocaine accounted for 1.9% of those offenses.2One clinical review points out that crack cocaine “has been linked with crime to a greater extent than cocaine hydrochloride, and many of these crimes are associated with the addiction to cocaine.” This illustrates the fact that many people with a substance abuse disorder, particularly crack cocaine, are better helped through treatment than with prison time.3
The truth about crack cocaine is that it is a dangerous illicit drug with a high potential for abuse. In this article, you will learn about the dangers and effects of crack cocaine, how to recognize the warning signs of crack cocaine use, and how to seek help for crack cocaine addiction.
The Difference Between Crack and Cocaine
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that people use to get high and experience euphoria. There are two different types of cocaine that cause somewhat different experiences. Cocaine hydrochloride is a white powder that is snorted or injected. It’s often cut with other substances, like talcum powder or amphetamines. Crack is cocaine that has been processed into rocks or crystals and is smoked. It gets its name from the sound the crystals make when they are heated and start to pop, or crack.4,5
Other names for crack cocaine include:6
- Crunch & munch.
- Devil drug.
- Electric kool-aid.
- French fries.
- Hard rock.
- Jelly Beans.
Pharmacologically, crack and cocaine are the same substance. Yet crack cocaine is cheaper and produces a quicker, shorter high. When snorted, cocaine takes a few minutes to produce a high, while smoking produces a high within seconds. If you’re wondering whether crack is more addictive than coke, you should know that the method of administration is essentially what differentiates the two and what makes crack so addictive.
Is Crack More Addictive Than Coke?
Crack and cocaine both have the potential for addiction, but why is crack worse than coke? If they’re chemically the same substance, what makes crack so much more addictive than cocaine? The main reason is due to the way the drug enters your body, which has a significant impact on how you feel and how quickly you become addicted.
When snorted, cocaine takes a few minutes to produce a high, while smoking produces a high within seconds. But crack leaves the body more quickly, leading to a crash or a depression that makes crack users want to smoke more so they can feel the same euphoric effects, creating a cycle that often leads to addiction.7 One research paper points out that crack cocaine is “clinically related to stronger craving, addiction, and deterioration in cognition,” and it is also associated with serious health consequences.8 It’s important to keep in mind that cocaine is often a gateway drug to crack use.3
H2: The Effects of Crack
People use crack for its positive effects, which include:9
- Extreme happiness.
- Feelings of excitement.
- Increased alertness.
- Increased confidence.
- Feeling like you’re on top of the world.
However, these positive effects hardly outweigh the health risks that occur with crack abuse.
Some of the negative short-term mental and physical effects of crack include:11 short-term effects
- Dry mouth.
- Heightened startle reflex.
- Violent actions.
- Rapid breathing.
- Difficulty breathing.
Crack abuse can cause serious harm to your health when used for long periods due to the way it changes your brain. This can result in physical and mental health effects such as:11
- Sleep problems.
- Mood swings.
- Unusual or violent behavior.
- Chest pain.
- Low blood oxygen.
- Breathing problems.
- Collapsed lungs or lung inflammation.
- Coughing up blood.
- Heart problems.
- Heart attack.
- Stomach problems.
- Abdominal pain.
- Appetite changes.
- Loss of libido.
- Problems with pregnancy, such as stillbirth of risk or miscarriage.
- Brain bleeding.
Signs of Crack Overdose
Can you overdose on crack? Yes, overdose is a potentially deadly risk of crack abuse. In addition, the risk of overdose can be higher if you use crack that’s cut with other dangerous or lethal substances. If you think that you or someone you know has overdosed, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
Signs of crack overdose include:11
- Respiratory failure.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Heart attack.
- Heart failure.
Crack Cocaine Abuse Symptoms
Crack cocaine abuse can be identified by specific physical and behavioral symptoms.
A crack user will often display physical symptoms such as:11
- A hoarse voice.
- Dilated pupils.
- Weight loss.
- Poor physical appearance.
- Lack of physical hygiene.
- Sleeping a lot or not sleeping at all.
- Frequent upper respiratory problems.
- Dental problems, like cracked teeth or tooth decay.
Common behavioral signs that can indicate a crack cocaine addiction include:9
- Extreme energy.
- Unusual talkativeness.
- Animated behavior.
- Paranoid behavior (such as thinking someone is always watching them or out to get them).
- Cravings (meaning they want to use the drug all the time).
- Risky behavior.
Crack Cocaine Addiction
With repeated administration of the substance, crack users can develop dependence, which means they need it to feel normal and to be able to function, and they experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Dependence doesn’t necessarily mean a person is addicted, but the two often go hand-in-hand. 14
Crack addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that causes a person to want to use crack all the time, regardless of the consequences. A person who is addicted is no longer able to meet obligations at work, school, or home. Even though they develop physical, mental, and social problems due to crack abuse, they are unable to stop using the drug. Dependence is related to addiction because it can fuel the cycle of abuse. When a person needs to use crack to feel normal and function, they may keep using it to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Even if they temporarily stop using, people are often unable to tolerate intense withdrawal symptoms, and many relapse.14
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal
Crack cocaine withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant, but it is not typically life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can occur within minutes of your last use and include symptoms such as:15
- Feeling exhausted and wanting to sleep all the time.
- Increased appetite.
- Sleep changes.
- Being unable to concentrate.
Crack Cocaine Drug Rehab
People who are addicted to crack cocaine do not usually require detox unless there is a risk of developing severe depression or if they abuse multiple substances.15 However, it is vital to attend substance abuse treatment to get help so you can stop using the drug and develop the skills you’ll need to lead a drug-free life.
Crack cocaine addiction is generally treated using a combination of pharmacological and behavioral approaches. Although research is ongoing, there are no medications that are currently approved to treat cocaine addiction, but medication may be used to treat co-occurring disorders (such as depression). Behavioral approaches include:16
- Contingency management, which provides rewards for positive behaviors.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches people the skills they need to stay clean and to avoid relapse.
- Therapeutic communities, which have been shown to be useful for people in recovery from crack cocaine. These are drug-free residences that offer support and services to help you transition back to your home life.
- Support groups that offer mutual assistance, such as Cocaine Anonymous, to support you in your recovery journey.
Individual treatment plans vary from person to person, but cocaine addiction treatment has been shown to be helpful in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment depends on your specific needs and the extent of your addiction.16
How to Get Help for Crack Cocaine Addiction
Don’t let crack cocaine addiction take over your life. Seeking help today is important to take back control and to avoid the negative consequences of addiction. American Addiction Centers is a leading provider of addiction recovery services in Nevada and nationwide. We offer personalized treatment plans and compassionate staff who know exactly what you are going through. When you’re ready to seek help, we’ll be standing by. Call our free, confidential helpline any time of day or night to speak to a treatment advisor about the recovery options that are best for you.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2012). Substance use and mental disorders in the Las Vegas-Paradise MSA.
- Blin, A. (2017). Addiction and substance abuse in Nevada.
- Hatsukami, D. K., & Fischman, M. W. (1996). Crack cocaine and cocaine hydrochloride. Are the differences myth or reality? JAMA, 276(19), 1580–1588.
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2010). Cocaine and crack.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine.
- National Drug Intelligence Center. Crack cocaine fast facts.
- The Pharmacology Education Partnership. (2016). Why is smoked cocaine (crack) more likely to be abused or addictive than snorted cocaine?
- Garza-Villarreal, E. A., Chakravarty, M. M., Hansen, B., Eskildsen, S. F., Devenyi, G. A., Castillo-Padilla… & Gonzalez-Olvera, J. J. (2017). The effect of crack cocaine addiction and age on the microstructure and morphology of the human striatum and thalamus using shape analysis and fast diffusion kurtosis imaging. Translational Psychiatry, 7(5), e1122.
- Talk to Frank. Cocaine.
- Straight talk – Crack.
- Government of Canada. (2020). Cocaine and crack.
- Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky. ..the facts.
- Cury, P. R., Oliveira, M. G., de Andrade, K. M., de Freitas, M. D., & Dos Santos, J. N. (2017). Dental health status in crack/cocaine-addicted men: a cross-sectional study. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International, 24(8), 7585–7590.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Tolerance, dependence, addiction: What’s the difference?
- Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2006). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment. (treatment improvement protocol (TIP) series, No. 45.) 4. Physical detoxification services for withdrawal from specific substances. Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Cocaine research report: How is cocaine addiction treated?
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