Crack Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

August 18, 2020 , Agape Treatment Center

Infamously known as one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs out there, addiction to crack cocaine can form after just one of two uses of the drug. Users then compulsively seek more of the drug, desperately chasing and trying to reach their first high. Unfortunately, once someone has formed a crack addiction, it is terribly difficult to beat without professional help. Moreover, crack cocaine is a potent and deadly drug that is associated with a variety of mental, physical, and social risks. In fact, crack cocaine is frequently cited in instances of both drug-related deaths and violent crime in Fort Lauderdale and the South Florida area alike.[1]

Although crack cocaine is a highly addictive substance, recovery is entirely possible. Once you or a loved one have admitted that you need help, the first step is to pick up the phone and call a dedicated treatment provider.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is made by mixing ammonia or baking soda with cocaine. This powder mixture is then heated until it crystallizes into “rocks” which are known as crack cocaine. The drug is most commonly smoked in a crack pipe, however, some people snort or inject the drug. When smoked, the drug makes a popping or crackling noise, which is why people simply refer to it as “crack.” Some common street names for the drug include rock, candy, sleet, or hard.

When people synthesize cocaine into crack, they increase the potency and effects of the drug. As a result, people who are under the influence of crack might exhibit some of the same symptoms as a cocaine high produces, yet the symptoms may be more pronounced. When someone is under the influence of crack cocaine, they may experience the following:[2]

  • Tense muscles
  • Increased heart rate
  • Excess energy and talkativeness
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings
  • Euphoria
  • Increased confidence
  • Feelings of invincibility
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations

Crack cocaine directly affects the brain’s reward system, so when people use the drug, their brain perceives it as a reward or something that brings pleasure. This phenomenon causes a person to crave more and more of the drug in order to experience those euphoric feelings. When people give in to these cravings and abuse the drug repeatedly, full-blown crack addiction is likely to occur.

Signs and Symptoms of Crack Addiction

Since crack is so much more potent than cocaine, the drug is also highly addictive. Crack cocaine addiction can form rapidly and progress at a devastating rate. As a result, it is vital to be able to recognize the signs of addiction early on so that you or a loved one can seek help before its too late. Common signs of crack cocaine addiction include:

  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Lying to loved ones about drug use
  • Changes in appearance (weight loss, skin picking, tooth decay, in particular)
  • Mood swings and changes in eating habits
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using crack cocaine
  • Having intense and lingering drug cravings
  • Spending the majority of one’s time, money, and resources on obtaining the drug
  • Spending excess time using the drug and recovering from the effects of the drug
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies one once cared about
  • Continuing to use crack despite the worsening of mental or physical health issues
  • Having problems at work, school, or home due to drug use

In many cases crack is used by people who are already addicted to cocaine. However, crack cocaine is substantially cheaper than pure cocaine, which makes the drug highly appealing to people who can no longer afford to maintain an expensive coke habit.

People who are addicted to crack may also display erratic or risky behaviors. These individuals might steal from their loved ones to have money for drugs, do illegal activities to score drugs, or act out on behaviors that put their well-being at risk. As a result, it is crucial to seek help for an addiction to crack cocaine as soon as possible.

Long Term Side Effects and Dangers of Crack Abuse

One primary danger associated with crack cocaine abuse is the risk of overdose. Due to the high potency of crack, there is a real risk of overdose. Crack overdose is indicated by the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Hallucinations
  • Stroke

Similarly, long-term crack abuse can lead to a variety of future health complications. For example, long-term crack abuse is associated with higher rates of the following health conditions:[3]

  • Damage to blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Delirium
  • Psychosis
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Infectious diseases (HIV, Hepatitis C, etc.)
  • Tooth decay
  • Abscesses
  • Infertility and reproductive damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Ultimately, the longer a person abuses crack cocaine, the more likely they are to experience some of the detrimental side effects. The only way to prevent these health effects entirely is to abstain from drugs and alcohol by seeking professional drug addiction treatment near you.

Treatment Processes for Crack Addiction

Once you have uncovered the truth behind you or your loved one’s crack addiction, it is time to look into your treatment options. It’s important to note that people who are dependent on crack cocaine may experience withdrawal symptoms within hours of their last dose, which is why detox is typically the first step of the treatment process.

Detoxing from crack cocaine is a relatively safe process compared to other drug or alcohol withdrawals. The primary symptoms consist of fatigue, irritability, anxiety, depression, and muscle aches. However, the cravings associated with addiction are difficult to deal with, which is why it is helpful to undergo detox at a professional treatment facility. During this time, you will be monitored by medical and clinical staff to ensure your safety and comfort during the detox process.

After a 5-7 day detox, most patients are encouraged to attend a comprehensive addiction treatment program. During crack rehab in Fort Lauderdale, you will participate in group and individual therapies that help you uncover and heal from the root causes of your substance abuse. Depending on your individual needs, your treatment plan may last anywhere from 28 days to several months or more. Once you have completed crack rehab, it is generally recommended to participate in some form of aftercare, such as sober living, alumni groups, Narcotics Anonymous (NA), or Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with crack addiction, our drug and alcohol rehab in Fort Lauderdale is here to help. Our evidence-driven counseling and therapy methods are based on the belief that every individual is different and deserves an individualized treatment plan that paves the way for a life free from the bondage of addiction. By offering multiple levels of care, from PHP to IOP and OP, guided by world-class addiction and mental health specialists, you can rest assured that you or your loved one is receiving the best possible care.

Drug addiction is a deadly and terrifying illness, but recovery is possible. Get started on a better life by contacting one of our dedicated treatment providers today.

References:

  1. https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs5/5169/cocaine.htm
  2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000946.htm
  3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use