Updated on February 6, 2024
3 min read

Crack Addiction: Symptoms & Treatment

Key Takeaways

Crack is the freebase form of cocaine, an extremely addictive stimulant drug that affects the central nervous system (CNS). After smoking crack, you can get high within 10 seconds or less. Although the high is intense, it lasts only 5 to 15 minutes.

Crack cocaine is highly abused because it’s inexpensive and relatively easy to produce. Other common street names for crack include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Snow
  • Rock
  • Blow
  • Candy or rock candy
  • Base

How Addictive Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is highly addictive. It has been reported that it leads to dependence or addiction after a short period of use in many people. Because smoking crack reaches the brain quickly, crack addiction (stimulant use disorder) can form almost instantly.

After trying crack cocaine once, you may develop an uncontrollable and intense craving for the drug. These cravings are due to immediate chemical changes in the brain’s reward system.

Inhaling the substance releases an excessive amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, in the brain. As a result, the psychological effects of crack can be extremely reinforcing, resulting in drug addiction.


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Symptoms of Abuse & Addiction

Symptoms of crack addiction can be psychological and physical. People typically feel uncomfortable side effects when the initial high wears off, resulting in a strong desire to use the drug.

Common signs of crack abuse and addiction include:

  • Uncontrollable, persistent cravings for the drug
  • Participating in risky sexual behaviors, violence, and breaking the law
  • Financial problems or stealing money to obtain more crack
  • Neglecting relationships, work, and other important aspects of life due to drug use
  • Ignoring the consequences and potential risk factors
  • Aggression, hostility, and severe mood swings
  • Hypertension
  • Getting less sleep than normal
  • Twitching muscles
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent nosebleeds

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Long-Term Side Effects of Crack Cocaine Abuse

Any form of long term substance abuse can significantly affect your health. Common side effects associated with long-term crack abuse include:

  • Psychosis or delirium
  • Chronic depression
  • Mood disorders
  • Extreme paranoid behavior
  • Irritability and aggression
  • Heart attacks or stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Weakened immune system
  • Seizures
  • Coughing and shortness of breath
  • Lung trauma and bleeding
  • Liver or kidney failure
  • Respiratory problems or failure
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility and damage to reproductive organs
  • Drug dependence
  • High tolerance
  • Increased susceptibility to infections like HIV and Hepatitis C
  • Death from health complications or an overdose

These side effects can worsen if you mix crack with other substances such as PCP, marijuana, heroin, and fentanyl

Treatment Options for Crack Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine addiction may have the highest risk of relapse compared to other drugs, making cocaine addiction extremely difficult to treat. It’s important to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating cocaine addiction.

Cocaine addiction treatment is extremely complex and individualized. After going through medical detox, you’ll need ongoing support and medical care to maintain sobriety. 

If you or someone you know is addicted to crack, seek professional help immediately. They’ll be able to recommend treatment programs that cater to your needs.

Available treatment options for crack addiction include:

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Updated on February 6, 2024

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