Crack cocaine is one of the most dangerous and damaging drugs available. Since crack cocaine is highly addictive, casual use rarely remains recreational. Instead, the progression to regular use and abuse, and onto addiction, can happen quickly and can be extremely difficult to stop.
Crack cocaine was derived from cocaine in the mid-1980s and was immediately popular because it was readily available at a low cost. Sold and used in a smokable form, crack cocaine is created when powder cocaine hydrochloride is altered with the use of baking soda, heat, and water. The word "crack" refers to the crackling sound the drug makes when it is heated and smoked.
Crack cocaine creates a sense of pleasure and a heightened sense of energy and confidence in the brain and body. The high felt when using crack cocaine only lasts for a few minutes and is followed by a hard crash until the drug is used again. The crash can include feelings of anxiety, irritability, depression, sleepiness, and paranoia. Heavy crack cocaine users experience more extreme side effects both when using and between times of using, that include hallucinations (including a persistent feeling that there are bugs crawling under their skin), repetitive, compulsive patterns, and strong cravings for further crack cocaine use.
Continuous use of crack cocaine creates depression and delirium, and leaves the brain unable to feel pleasure without the drug. Along with physical and mental consequences, there are many social problems associated with the use of crack cocaine. Since the drug’s users often isolate and experience paranoia, participation in everyday activities, other than using drugs, become nearly impossible. Additionally, regular crack cocaine use begins to dictate a user’s life, so relationships are difficult to maintain. Normal functioning relationships with people, including family, friends and significant others, suffer and remain strained for the duration of crack cocaine use.
Crack users also experience problems at work. Staying employed is a struggle, and when a job is sustained, all earnings are put toward drug use. The compulsive and obsessive need to find and use crack cocaine interferes with thoughts about anything else. Crack cocaine abusers will often steal from their loved ones, lie, cheat, manipulate, and become violent if they are afraid their drug needs will not be met. Even though promises may be made concerning their drug use (for example: "I would never hurt my family"), often crack users end up abandoning all previous values when a high is needed.
The intense cravings, paired with the physically detrimental effects, lead many crack cocaine users to heart failure, convulsions, coma, overdose, and death. Crack also causes respiratory problems and can permanently alter the chemical makeup of a person's brain. Consequently, chronic use of crack cocaine can result in psychosis and constant delusional episodes.
While all these consequences seem like enough reason to stay away from this drug forever, the person already addicted to crack cocaine is so removed from reality that it is impossible to stop. Even if a person manages to stop using for a short period of time, the likelihood of a relapse (a return to drug use) is very high when not properly treated. Therefore, the need for intervention, drug cessation, and an effective treatment plan is of the utmost importance.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to crack cocaine or any other drug, there is hope. Recovery Now TV offers referrals to a variety of programs throughout the United States that takes into consideration all needs of each individual client.
Please contact Recovery Now TV at 800-381-4731 to find out more and to stop the cycle of addiction in your life!
Crack Cocaine Addiction
I couldn’t bear to be sober. I needed to smoke crack cocaine because smoking crack takes away all your thoughts. You don’t think about reality. You don’t think about your bills, ‘Oh, I have to pay this tomorrow.’ You don’t think about yourself. You don’t think about nobody around you but crack cocaine.
Millions of people are currently suffering from crack cocaine addiction, just like that 43-year-old recovering crack addict was before seeking proper treatment.
Crack cocaine, the smokable derivative of cocaine, creates an immediate high, and because it is inexpensive to buy and to produce, the drug has remained popular for many decades. In the past twenty years, there has not been a significant decrease in the number of people using crack cocaine. Again, since the drug is so physically and psychologically addictive, the rates of addiction have also remained high.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that of all people in the United States, aged twelve years and over, 9.7% have at least tried crack cocaine once in their lifetime. With a current population of 313.9 million people, over 30 million people have used this highly addictive and damaging substance.
The rates of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, overdose, and death reflect just how far the problems with crack cocaine abuse have reached. For a large percentage of these people, use will progress into abuse and addiction without proper intervention and treatment.
People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rate of crack cocaine abuse and addiction, and are subjected to the most detrimental consequences since their brains are still developing. This age range is also still impressionable and working toward establishing a life. When crack cocaine use is a part of that equation, rarely do plans get made or carried out. Instead, the drug reenforces the tendency toward impulsive decisions and compulsive drug use, and the progression toward addiction continues rapidly.
Addiction is characterized by:
- a loss of control over drug use,
- an obsession with use,
- continued drug use despite adverse life consequences (loss of job, failing out of school, strained relationships, financial despair, medical complications or diagnoses, mental health impairment, etc.),
- denial of a drug problem, and
- a high likelihood of relapse when drug use stops.
Continue reading to learn how crack cocaine affects the human body and brain, how you can identify a problem with crack cocaine in your life or the life of someone you love, and how to treat the abuse of or addiction to crack cocaine
If you believe that you, or someone in your life, is addicted, or is on the way to addiction, you can break the cycle now.
Crack Cocaine Effects
Using crack cocaine creates a whole set of effects both during use and then once actual use has stopped. The chemicals used to create crack cocaine impact the human brain in such a way that leaves the person constantly wanting more of the drug, and its high.
Crack cocaine users report the high as a rush. When smoked rather than snorted or injected, the drug reaches the brain faster, effects are felt almost immediately, and the whole experience is much more intense. The entire high happens in less than 20 minutes, with the initial rush occurring within five to ten seconds of the drug’s use. The subsequent euphoria, excitation, and sense of arousal (from crack cocaine’s stimulatory properties) can end after just five minutes before the inevitable crash ensues.
Crack cocaine’s crash includes irritability, dysphoria (a general uneasy feeling), anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and paranoia. In an effort to stop these uncomfortable feelings and to feel the euphoria again, the user wants to smoke more crack cocaine.
This nature of use, in which the high hits, the crash occurs, and the user wants to do it all over again, and does, is a binge pattern of drug abuse. When such a highly-addictive drug like crack cocaine is used in a binge pattern, the progression to addiction is very likely, and happens very fast.
Physical symptoms of crack cocaine use include:
- increased heart rate
- convulsions and tremors
- chest pain
- eating disorders
- permanent damage to blood vessels which can lead to stroke and long term physical disorders
Additionally, the situations in which a crack cocaine user finds him or herself often become high risk. Engaging in dangerous behavior, such as unsafe sex leading to sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy, or violence, which for women often leads to rape and/or murder, are unfortunately common.
Crack cocaine causes major mental, emotional, and psychological damage over multiple years of use.
When the use of damaging chemicals has been repeated for an extended period of time, the following effects occur:
- hostile, angry and violent behavior
- blurring of mental clarity
- impairment to decision-making skills
- hallucinations and delusions that lead chronic users to talk to themselves and exhibit behaviors that closely resemble the mental illness, schizophrenia
To someone reading these lists, who does not use crack cocaine, it becomes difficult to understand why someone would continue to use this drug. It is important to remember that the drug takes a hold of the person’s mental and emotional clarity. A crack cocaine abuser or addict seems helpless against the drug and is unable to quit without help.
Even if a person does manage to stop using crack, the high risk for relapse demands effective treatment.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to crack cocaine or any other drug, change is possible. Call the team at Recovery Now TV at 800-281-4731 to find out more!
Signs & Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Abuse & Addiction
In addition to a loss of control over use, an obsession with use, continuing to use despite negative consequences, denial of any problem with the drug, and a high likelihood of relapse when drug use stops, there are several signs and symptoms of crack cocaine abuse and addiction.
Tolerance is the need for more of a substance to experience the same high. When a person is using more crack cocaine in each attempt to get high, tolerance has developed and this individual has crossed over from casual use to abuse or addiction, and treatment is needed.
A 26-year-old recovering crack cocaine addict shares her experience with increased tolerance:
At first it [crack cocaine use] was maybe every hour because the feeling would only last that long, and the more I did it, the feeling didn’t even last that long, and I would eventually get up to about maybe 10 minutes, and maybe [use] every five minutes. I would try to pace myself and make however much I had last as long as I could, but it was usually out of control, you know.
Withdrawal symptoms are another indicator that physical and psychological dependence has occurred. When a person needs a certain drug for normal, everyday functioning, dependence is diagnosable, and serves as a major sign of addiction. When crack cocaine use stops, the body and brain’s dependence upon the drug triggers physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. When these symptoms surface, an addicted person will use again to avoid feeling the pain and discomfort.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), when a person is addicted to crack cocaine, withdrawal symptoms are:
- anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure)
- anergia (the total lack of energy)
- increased appetite
- intense drug cravings
- loss of motivation
- psychomotor agitation
- vivid and unpleasant dreams
If you believe that someone you care about is using, abusing, or addicted to crack cocaine, you can also look for the following physical and behavioral signs, suggested by the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE):
- Changes in sleeping patterns (inability to sleep, awake at unusual times, unusual laziness)
- Changes in eating habits (loss of appetite or overeating)
- Changes in physical appearance (deterioration of hygiene or physical health)
- Cold, sweaty palms
- Tremors or shakes of hands, feet or head
- Red, watery eyes; pupils larger or smaller than usual
- Unusual smells on breath, body, or clothes
- Extreme hyperactivity
- Excessive talkativeness
- Slowed or staggering walk
- Poor physical coordination
- Nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating
- Irregular heartbeat
- Hacking cough
- Changes in overall attitude or personality (without another identifiable cause)
- Drop in grades at school or performance at work
- Change in activities or hobbies
- Chronic dishonesty
- Sudden oversensitivity, temper tantrums, or resentful behavior
- Difficulty in paying attention
- General lack of motivation, energy, or self-esteem
- An “I don’t care” attitude.
- Change in habits at home
- Loss of interest in family and family activities
- Silliness or giddiness
- Moodiness, irritability, or nervousness
- Excessive need for privacy
- Being constantly unreachable
- Secretive or suspicious behavior
- Car accidents
- Change in personal grooming habits
- Possession of drug paraphernalia
- Changes in friends
- Unexplained need for money or stealing money and/or items
If you can identify any of these signs and symptoms in someone you love, the time for help is now.
With the assistance of Recovery Now TV, you or your loved one can make a full recovery from crack cocaine abuse or addiction. Call the team now at 800-281-4731!
Treatment for Crack Cocaine Abuse & Addiction
Treatment is effective. Scientifically based drug addiction treatments typically reduce drug abuse by 40% to 60%. These rates are not ideal, of course, but they are comparable to compliance rates seen with treatment for other chronic diseases, such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes.
When crack cocaine has taken over a person’s life, formal treatment is the only way to break the cycle. The addictive nature of crack cocaine, in particular, does not allow a user, who has developed tolerance and dependence, to just stop using. Instead, medically-monitored detoxification, inpatient residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and participation in a 12 Step Fellowship yield the best results for sustainable recovery.
Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D, former director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), believes that, “Treatment is effective. Scientifically based drug addiction treatments typically reduce drug abuse by 40% to 60%. These rates are not ideal, of course, but they are comparable to compliance rates seen with treatment for other chronic diseases, such as asthma, hypertension, and diabetes. Moreover, treatment markedly reduces undesirable consequences of drug abuse and addiction, such as unemployment, criminal activity, and HIV/AIDS or other infectious diseases, whether or not patients achieve complete abstinence.”
The detox process allows an addict’s body and brain to flush out all residual chemicals from ongoing crack cocaine use. With medical professionals monitoring all vitals around the clock, and medication management in place to make the symptoms of withdrawal more tolerable, time spent detoxing can forever change a person’s relationship with crack cocaine.
The duration of stay is different for each person, depending on drug of choice, length of use, amount of use, and individual chemistry. Finding the right detox center is a great first step. The team at Recovery Now TV specializes in pairing addicts with appropriate care. Find the right center for you by calling 800-281-4731.
What most people think of when they hear the word “rehab” is inpatient residential treatment that provides 24-hour surveillance and accountability. At this level of care, there is no access to any mind-altering substance, unless a client leaves the facility. A member of the treatment team is always available, addicts meet with an individual therapist, participate in peer process groups, and can choose various alternative forms of treatment aimed at various aspects of health for the mind, body, and soul.
In the opinion of a 46-year-old recovering drug addict, “One of the reasons you came into recovery was to get away from your old life. Being in the recovery program must be something that you want and desire; and once you start desiring it, it sets a fire in your heart and in your mind and you start being more productive and being more aware of how your life was and how beautiful your life can be.”
After 30, 60, 90, or 180 days of inpatient treatment, most substance abuse counselors will recommend that clients then participate in an outpatient program. At this point, a client can return to work or school, and can even live back in the same city where he or she was living before. While not generally recommended, in the case of someone with children, returning home can be an important part of the healing process.
In outpatient treatment, the same tools for recovery and skills for coping are encouraged. With a return to “real life,” clients are given the opportunity to experience events and situations again, but while still attending treatment almost every day. This level of care serves as a step down from inpatient treatment, and can be a part of someone’s recovery for several months.
The 12 Steps are used in a majority of recovery programs, so involvement in the fellowship often happens seamlessly for inpatient and outpatient clients. When it is not included in the treatment day or week, a recovering addict can choose to join the fellowship either during or after formal treatment.
The benefit of having a group of peers, who are always available at meetings, is unmatched. Seeking a sponsor, who serves as a mentor of sorts, helps in the moments of uncertainty and possible drug craving. The idea is that someone in the early stages of recovery forms a relationship with someone, of the same gender, who has a much longer time in recovery. The two work through the steps together, and the sponsor is accessible at almost all times of the day and night. The sponsee is able to reach out at times of need, and the sponsor can respond with guidance appropriate for the individual he or she has gotten to know.
Recovery Now TV has relationships with detox centers, inpatient residential treatment facilities, and providers who offer excellent outpatient programs. By calling 800-281-4731 you can find out what set of programs is right for you, or for someone in your life who needs help for crack cocaine addiction. Call now!