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Updated on February 11, 2022

Crack Addicts

Cocaine vs. Crack High

Crack is the “rock” form of cocaine. It is a powdered "hydrochloride salt." Crack is created from combining cocaine with baking soda and water (and often with a mix of other fillers). This makes it a solid that gets broken into chunks.

People smoke crack with a crack pipe, which creates a crackling sound that gives it its name. 

Crack is typically much cheaper than cocaine. This makes it cheaper and more available in lower-income areas.

Crack takes effect immediately. An intense and rapid euphoria (known as a flash high) is produced in less than 10 seconds

The high then lasts about three to five minutes, followed by an unpleasant crash that comes with:

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Craving for more

This is due to the high concentration of the drug in the bloodstream. Addiction is likely since the first high is never reached again. And, the lows only get lower.

Effects of Cocaine

The effects of cocaine peak within about 15 to 20 minutes when it’s snorted. When injected, it produces an effect within 30 seconds. It peaks in five minutes and lasts about a half hour.

Injecting cocaine with unclean needles increases one’s risk of contracting hepatitis, AIDS, and other infections. 

Low doses give users a quick burst of euphoria and feelings of increased:

  • Energy
  • Sensory awareness
  • Alertness
  • Self-esteem

It also artificially depletes your body's energy, reducing the need for food and sleep. Mood changes commonly occur as well. 

The drug gained popularity in the 1980s and has been the source of many drug addictions since then. In 2013, cocaine accounted for six percent of all drug abuse treatment admissions. Sixty-eight percent of people who sought help for cocaine abuse also smoked crack.

Signs & Symptoms of Crack Addiction

The effects of crack peak quickly and end in a matter of minutes. This rapid cycle causes people to smoke more, increasing their tolerance and dependency. When this happens, they can easily become a crack addict.

Crack users can experience a wide range of symptoms if they become addicted. Here are some of the most common signs of crack addiction:

  • Extreme bursts of energy
  • Inflated confidence and sense of self-importance
  • Escapism
  • A quick and fleeting sense of euphoria (due to the influx of dopamine)
  • Bouts of being hyper-focused
  • Bouts of depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Intense cravings for more crack

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Side Effects of Crack Addiction

The side effects of smoking crack can range from uncomfortable to seriously dangerous.

Short-Term Effects

The short-term effects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nausea
  • Panic
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Bizarre behaviors
  • Mood swings
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Dental damage
  • Damage to lips and mouth
  • Cardiovascular issues like heart attacks and strokes
  • Seizures
  • Severe decline in cognitive ability
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Uncontrollable muscle tics
  • Involuntary tremors
  • Hyper-aggressive behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Death

Dangers & Risks of Crack Addiction

Even if you’re smoking crack for the first time, it is a dangerous drug.

A crack addiction can make people paranoid, angry, and aggressive. This puts themselves and those around them at risk.

Because of this rapid cycle, many crack addicts spend all of their money replenishing their drug stock. They may not be able to pay their rent or mortgage, health insurance, groceries, and other necessities. This can lead them down a dark path.

One of the biggest problems with crack is that you don't know what is in it. Crack can be contaminated with drugs like Levamisole. These can cause serious infections characterized by high fevers and black patches on the skin.

Overdosing on crack, or any drug, can be fatal.

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How to Help Someone With a Crack Addiction 

If you or someone you know is struggling with a crack addiction, help is available. Consider talking to a professional at a treatment facility or seeking out support groups. Your loved one doesn’t have to navigate the journey to a drug-free recovery alone.

The key is to be supportive without being an enabler. This means doing things like going to support groups with them if it makes them more comfortable. Do not give them money to fund their drug addiction or make excuses for their bad behaviors.

Addiction Treatment Options for Crack Cocaine

At this time, there aren’t any FDA-approved medications to treat crack cocaine addictions. But researchers are studying this subject. 

Scientists are currently testing medications that affect the dopamine D3 and serotonin receptors. Others are testing certain compounds that restore balance disrupted by long-term drug use. 

Until then, traditional substance abuse treatment options are still available. Here are a few to explore:

Inpatient Rehab Treatment Program

These are live-in rehabilitation centers where patients have 24/7 support from medical professionals.

Outpatient Rehab Treatment Program

These are rehabilitation centers where patients still live at home but follow a strict rehab program with regular visits.

Support Groups

Support groups are usually led by former addicts. They can help people struggling with substance abuse or their friends and family.

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Resources

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  1. “Crack Addiction Rehab in Maryland.” Walden, 13 Jan. 2021, pyramidwalden.com/treatment-support/drug-addiction-rehabilitation/crack-addiction-rehab/.
  2. “Crack Addiction Rehab in PA: Silver Pines Treatment Center: Hazleton.” Silverpines Treatment Center, 19 May 2020, www.silverpinestreatmentcenter.com/addiction-treatment-programs-pa/addiction-treatment-services/crack-addiction-rehab-in-pa/.
  3. George Mason, www.gmu.edu/resources/facstaff/facultyfacts/1-2/cocain.html.
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 11 June 2020, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-treatments-are-effective-cocaine-abusers.
  5. “Straight Talk - Crack.” CAMH, www.camh.ca/en/health-info/guides-and-publications/straight-talk-crack.
  6. “The Difference Between Crack and Cocaine.” Agape Treatment Center, 31 Aug. 2020, www.agapetc.com/what-is-the-difference-between-crack-and-cocaine/.
  7. “What Is Crack? - Effects & Symptoms of Crack Addiction.” Cirque Lodge, 13 Dec. 2018, www.cirquelodge.com/addiction/crack/.

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