Crack Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
Crack cocaine, sometimes called cocaine base, is a crystalized form of cocaine, a stimulant derived from the leaves of the Coca plant native to South America. Crack cocaine produces a strong sense of well-being and euphoria, and is highly addictive. Crack cocaine addiction and abuse is a major problem and effects virtually every state in the US, including many other countries around the world.
Unlike powder cocaine, crack cocaine, which has the appearance of small, irregularly shaped white rocks, is most commonly heated and smoked in a glass pipe. The rocks are created by dissolving cocaine with water and ammonia or sodium bicarbonate. The name “crack” comes from the sound that the rocks make when being heated. Crack cocaine may also be combined with marijuana or combined with heroin.
Crack cocaine is fast-acting and short lived, with highs typically lasting from just a few minutes up to around a quarter of an hour. Smoking the drug results in a faster high than snorting powder cocaine, and as such many crack cocaine users are those who have escalated from powder cocaine use.
Like powder cocaine, crack cocaine is typically considered a “binge” drug, with users containing to take the drug until they are no longer physically able, or until they have no more of the drug remaining. This bingeing behaviour makes crack cocaine highly dangerous and promotes addiction.
History and Trends in Crack Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
Cocaine-based products have been used since ancient times, with ancient South American cultures having used the leaves of the plant during religious and everyday activities. While powder-based cocaine has had some medicinal and household uses throughout the past century, crack cocaine only came to the fore in the 1980s as part of a sudden epidemic of addiction behavior. This is partly because it is easy and cheap to produce, and because it creates a quick high. Crack is widely used, with an estimated 6 million Americans having tried the drug; teenagers and young adults form a large part of this user base.
Side effects of Crack Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
The effects of crack cocaine are the same of those of powder cocaine, with the difference being that the method of smoking the drug results in a faster uptake. Additionally, crack cocaine may be “cut” with different substances that may result in additional side effects or drug interactions.
Immediate crack cocaine effects include a sense of power and confidence, which comes from the build-up of dopamine in the brain caused by the drug. Users feel alert, energetic, happy and competent, but only for a short time. The short-lived high of the drug is why users have a tendency to “binge” on the drug.
Physical crack cocaine effects include a speeding up of the body’s systems, with the drug increasing heart rate, temperature and blood pressure. Users may also become irritable and paranoid, and may experience restlessness. Long-term use of the drug may see these symptoms escalate into psychosis or seizures, and tremor-based conditions such as Parkinson’s may result.
Heart problems, cardiac arrest, stroke and even death may result from taking the drug over a prolonged period, from heavy use or from overdose. Smoking crack cocaine can also cause damage to the lungs and respiratory system.
Withdrawal symptoms of Crack Cocaine
Crack withdrawal symptoms vary in their severity depending on how heavy an individual has been using the drug. They include restlessness, sadness and depression, somnolence and insomnia, anxiety, paranoia and even hallucinations.
Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction and Abuse
Crack cocaine addiction is a serious challenge to beat without help, and the severity of crack withdrawal symptoms will often result in a user returning to the drug.
For this reason, behavioral approaches such as therapy, community programs and detox programs are highly recommended as a way to help manage the effects of crack cocaine. Detox programs in particular provide a structured support system where addicted individuals can deal with withdrawal symptoms, cravings and their psychological addiction to the drug, reducing their risk of immediate relapse.
If you or a loved one is struggling with crack cocaine addiction, speak with us at White Sands Tampa about our detox programs today. 1-877-640-7820.