The loss of control a person experiences while addicted to crack can lead to a reduced quality of life, relationship struggles, and problems on the job. A major sign of crack addiction is when a person continues to use this drug even though it’s causing medical, psychological, relationship, and social problems.
A comprehensive drug rehab program for crack works to treat the mental and physical symptoms of addiction. Selecting a crack addiction treatment program that uses evidence-based treatments can increase a person’s chance for a successful, long-term recovery.
Understanding Crack Cocaine
Crack is the most potent form of cocaine that exists today. It gets its name from the crackling sound the drug makes when smoked. It may also be referred to as base, hard rock, and rock.
A freebase version of cocaine, crack is made when powdered cocaine is processed with other chemicals. What results is a highly addictive rock-like crystal that is yellowish-white in color.
Crack is referred to as an upper. This is because this intensely powerful central nervous system stimulant causes a person’s body and mind to work at faster rates.
Abusing crack causes excessive amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine to flood the brain. This brain chemical creates feelings of reward and pleasure. Taking crack heavily reinforces these sensations. Because of this, a person will likely experience intense urges to take the drug again to recreate this effect.
Crack is most commonly smoked, however, some people may attempt to inject or snort the drug. Crack cocaine may be mixed or laced into other drugs, including heroin or marijuana. This may increase the risk of adverse health effects and overdose.
When smoked, crack is heated in a glass pipe. This drug’s short but intense high begins almost immediately and lasts from five to 15 minutes. Many people who use crack will attempt to prolong this brief high by smoking it in back-to-back doses, a behavior known as binging.
Crack Cocaine Abuse Signs, Symptoms, And Short-Term Effects
When a person first takes crack they will likely experience a rush or euphoric state. As an upper, this drug may cause hyper-stimulation, excessive happiness, bursts of energy, and talkativeness. A person may also have an increased sensitivity to sight, sound, and touch.
As the drug stimulates the central nervous system, a person’s blood pressure, breathing, heart, and temperature rates may climb. Crack cocaine can also make a person feel as if they don’t need to sleep, resulting in insomnia.
Additional physical and mental short-term side effects of crack cocaine abuse include:
- enlarged pupils
- loss of appetite
- mood swings
Due to its potency, crack can cause dependence and addiction quickly. As a person becomes tolerant to the effects of crack, they may begin to take the drug more frequently and/or in higher doses.
Crack can cause a person’s sense of self to become inflated, leading to feelings of overconfidence and power. This state can cause a person to engage in risky behaviors that endanger themselves or those around them.
As a person engages in more frequent patterns of drug seeking and using, they may begin to ignore important tasks relating to their education, family, job, relationships, and self-care. Many people will push their loved ones away and become defensive when questioned about abuse.
Crack Cocaine Abuse Long-Term Effects
To compensate for crack’s short-lived effects, a person may binge on crack for hours or even days. Using large quantities of the drug in short periods of time can increase the risk of addiction, serious mental health problems, and overdose.
Once a person crashes, they may experience intense physical and mental exhaustion. This binge and crash cycle may also trigger feelings of overwhelming sadness, delirium, panic attacks, paranoia, and restlessness. Some individuals may develop psychosis that is accompanied by auditory hallucinations.
Research also shows that teens who binge on cocaine may be more sensitive to its effects and have a higher risk of cocaine abuse later in life.
Long-term crack cocaine abuse, especially at high doses, can also cause aggression and violent, unpredictable behaviors. A person may experience tactile hallucinations or feel things that don’t exist, such as coke bugs. This hallucination makes a person feel like they have bugs crawling under their skin.
Crack Cocaine Abuse Risks And Dangers
Crack cocaine abuse places an immense strain on a person’s brain and body. From this, serious health and medical complications can arise, including cardiac complications, neurological damage, organ damage, and mental health problems.
Long-term crack abuse can damage the brain and nervous system. This may result in brain seizures, strokes, and bleeding in the brain. Some people who take crack for many years may develop movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.
The toll on a person’s heart and cardiac system from long-term crack abuse can become severe. An increased risk of aortic ruptures, cardiac arrest, heart attack, heart disease, and inflammation of the heart may accompany chronic use.
Cognitive dysfunction or problems in the way a person thinks can also occur. This may lead to memory problems, poor attention, impaired decision-making processes, and difficulty regulating impulses.
Additional risks and dangers of crack cocaine abuse include:
- birth defects
- dental problems
- gastrointestinal issues
- reproductive problems
- sexual dysfunction
As crack suppresses a person’s appetite, malnourishment and severe weight loss may also occur.
When crack is smoked, additional risks and dangers are present. Smoking crack on a regular basis can cause crack lung. This chronic lung condition resembles pneumonia. A person may also burn their fingers, lips, or tongue, which can result in blisters and bleeding tissues.
Injecting crack can expose a person to transmissible diseases, such as HIV/AIDs and hepatitis C. Even if a person doesn’t inject this drug, a person may still contract these diseases if they engage in unsafe sex or trade sexual favors for crack.
Should a person snort crack, they may develop nosebleeds, chronic sore throats, and problems swallowing.
A significant number of people who abuse crack engage in polydrug abuse, or abuse of more than one drug. Crack is frequently abused with alcohol and heroin, two central nervous system depressants.
Combining a stimulant and depressant can be very damaging to the body. It also raises the odds of overdose. Further, abuse of cocaine and alcohol is linked to an increased risk of heart damage, organ damage, and sudden death.
Crack Cocaine Overdose Signs
Crack cocaine overdose and death can occur after the first dose. The large and frequent doses that accompany binging increases the risk of a fatal overdose even more.
Prolonged crack cocaine abuse may cause a person to be more sensitive to the drug’s toxic effects. Because of this, smaller doses of crack may cause anxiety, convulsions, or other harmful side effects.
Individuals who have this sensitivity and take a larger dose to overcome a tolerance face a higher risk of overdose.
Signs of a crack cocaine overdose may include:
- blue-hued skin
- high blood pressure
- excessive sweating
- fast heartbeat
- irregular heartbeat
- loss of bladder control
- quickened breathing
- trouble breathing
In the most severe cases, crack cocaine overdose can cause heart attacks, an irregular heart rhythm, seizures, and death.
If an overdose is suspected, contact emergency medical services right away. Prompt medical attention could save a life.
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Signs And Symptoms
Due to crack’s high potency, a person may become dependent to this drug in a small amount of time.
Once a person is dependent, they will likely experience discomfort, cravings, and other symptoms of withdrawal should they suddenly stop using the drug or drastically reduce their dose.
Signs of crack cocaine withdrawal may include:
- impaired concentration
- increased appetite
- slowed thinking
- strange dreams
In certain cases, crack cocaine withdrawal may lead to suicidal thoughts.
People who use crack cocaine heavily over long periods of time may experience depression and cravings for several months after they stop taking the drug.
Crack Cocaine Detoxification Treatment
Not everyone who is addicted to crack will experience withdrawal symptoms to the point they need a medical detoxification program. However, in certain cases, withdrawal symptoms may become so severe that a person needs residential treatment.
Currently, there aren’t any FDA-approved medications for crack cocaine addiction, however, medications may be used to alleviate certain withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia and depression.
To help the body heal and regain balance, nutritional support and vitamins may be administered to treat crack-induced malnourishment. Compassionate counseling may be available at this time to offer encouragement and support as a person prepares for rehab.
Finding A Crack Cocaine Drug Rehab Program
The best crack cocaine addiction treatment programs are individualized. This means that they build a treatment plan around a person’s specific needs and recovery goals. This personalized treatment may address relationship, job, educational, or health problems caused by addiction.
While crack cocaine addiction may be treated in an outpatient substance abuse treatment program, an inpatient drug rehab program may be a better option for a person who is severely addicted.
Individuals who have a co-occurring mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression may be better served in residential treatment programs as well. This intensive level of care may also provide greater support for people who have crack-induced health and medical problems.
Some individuals may experience cravings for crack years after they stop using the drug. A comprehensive crack cocaine addiction treatment program will help a person develop relapse prevention skills that can fight these urges.
Certain evidence-based behavioral therapies have been shown to help people who are addicted to stimulants like crack find sobriety.
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- motivational incentives
- 12-Step Facilitation therapy
Recovery from crack addiction is possible with the right combination of treatments and therapies.
Reach out to DrugRehab.org today for more information on crack cocaine abuse, addiction, and treatment options.Sources
Center for Substance Abuse Research - Crack Cocaine
MedlinePlus - Cocaine intoxication, Cocaine withdrawal