What Is Crack Cocaine Addiction?

Crack Cocaine Addiction: Signs, Dangers and Recovery

What is Crack?

Crack cocaine is a hard, mineral-like substance with an off-white tint. It is most often smoked through a glass pipe (often called a stem or rose because they are sold with a rose inside of them) and inhaled, though some people use soda cans or aluminum foil to heat it.

Crack is made by mixing the powder form of cocaine with water and another substance, usually baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) or ammonia. This mixture is then boiled and a solid substance forms which is then cooled and broken into smaller pieces or “rocks” known as crack cocaine

Crack cocaine’s name comes from the cracking or popping sound it makes when heated. Other names for it include: rock(s), base, candy, cookies, kryptonite, sleet, hard, or most commonly, crack.

Effects of Crack

As an illicit substance, any use of crack is considered abuse. Because it is smoked (rather than snorted through the nose), the drug reaches the brain more quickly, producing an intense and immediate high. This high, however, is short-lived.

The effects of crack cocaine include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tension
  • Talkativeness
  • Confidence

Crack is far more potent and addictive than regular cocaine. Therefore, an addiction to crack develops rapidly, and some people become addicted the first time they try it. Because the high they experience is so pleasurable—and so short—they need more of the drug to maintain it. Eventually, an addiction is born, and the user needs the drug to simply feel normal.

After an addiction to crack develops, the user needs more of the drug to feel its effects and will experience symptoms of withdrawal if they attempt to quit. This happens because crack sets off excess amounts of the happiness-inducing chemical, dopamine, in the brain. Due to habitual crack cocaine use, the natural production of dopamine is diminished as the body becomes dependent upon the drug.

Strong cravings for the drug, along with the desire to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, makes it very difficult to quit. People addicted to crack tend to ignore the negative consequences caused by their drug use.

An overdose is typically preceded by dilated pupils and sweating. Someone who has overdosed may exhibit signs of anxiety, aggression, seizures, rapid heart rate, chest pain, nausea, seizure, hallucinations and/or stroke. Additionally, those with kidney problems or high blood pressure have a higher risk of fatal complications caused by smoking crack.

Signs of Crack Abuse

The effects of crack cocaine are intense. While people who are addicted to many drugs may be good at hiding it, this is rarely the case with crack cocaine. Crack cocaine is very short acting, meaning many addicts take breaks to smoke every 15-20 minutes. Also, the mental obsession associated with crack cocaine can be so severe that many cannot hold a regular conversation due to their obsession over their next “hit.”

People who are using crack usually exhibit overconfidence and hyperactivity.

Other signs of crack abuse to look for include:

  • Frequent disappearances (to get high)
  • Dilated pupils
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Restlessness, irritability, anxiety
  • Nervousness and paranoia
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Bizarre behaviour
  • Uncharacteristic irresponsibility
  • Burns on fingers
  • Cracked or blistered lips from smoking out of a hot pipe
  • Seizures
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disturbed sleep patters
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Potential death from respiratory failure
  • “Coke Bugs” – hallucinations that bugs are burrowing under the users skin

Long Term Effects of Crack Cocaine Abuse

The long-term effects of abusing crack can be detrimental. Long-term crack abuse can cause damage to most of the body’s vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys and heart. Additionally, crack cocaine users are more susceptible to infections because the drug compromises the immune system. The dangers of long-term crack abuse include:

  • Depression
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Infectious diseases
  • Abscesses
  • Malnutrition
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Reproductive damage and infertility
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Infertility
  • Irritability
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Delirium
  • Psychosis
  • Severe depression
  • Paranoid behaviour
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Death

Withdrawal from Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is a more concentrated form of powder cocaine. Because of crack’s potency, withdrawal from it is often more intense. Crack cocaine use causes changes in the brain and the body’s nervous system. When someone addicted to crack stops using, their body must go through an adjustment period to relearn how to function without crack cocaine in their system.

During withdrawal, the former user will often experience many uncomfortable symptoms, such as depression, paranoia, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, restlessness, agitation, or vivid, unpleasant dreams. The physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal will vary depending on many individual factors, such as the user’s tolerance, metabolism, length of addiction, severity of addiction, and the presence of underlying mental health conditions or other addictions.

Protracted withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) may include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or shaking
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anger or emotional outbursts

How long withdrawal from crack cocaine takes varies for each user and is based on a number of different factors. These include the user’s body chemistry, tolerance and the severity and duration of the addiction. Withdrawal can begin anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours after the last crack cocaine dose.

Physical symptoms of crack withdrawal typically last anywhere from 1 to 3 months, although there is no exact timeframe for how long symptoms will last. Any withdrawal symptoms that last more than 3 weeks are considered PAWS. The psychological symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal, including intense craving, drug dreams, and obsessive thoughts to use often last much longer. There have been reports of psychological withdrawal symptoms lasting for 6 months or more.

Inpatient care is strongly recommended for crack addicts and a medical detox should be considered whenever required.

Inpatient Care and Rehab for Crack users

The Lighthouse Bali’s proven combination of an initial Primary Inpatient Program*1  followed by Outpatient Care and Ongoing Therapy can help a crack user to get their life back on track. Through individually tailored treatment, professional therapy, and compassionate support, you will be given the tools you need to ensure the best possible chances of a long term recovery.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we urge you to reach out and contact us in confidence. Our private programs are tailormade to suit individual needs and our doctorate level clinical staff have extensive experience in the field of addiction. If you are not currently in Bali but would like to begin a recovery program immediately, contact us and we may be able to arrange a VISA for entry into Indonesia. We also have online recovery options available which can be taken should you not wish to travel.

To talk to one of our team members, contact us on WhatsApp or by Phone. Alternatively, send us an email and we will either answer your questions in writing or call you back, according to your preference contact us

We understand how difficult it can be to reach out for help but it’s the first step towards recovery and a happier, healthier way of living.

*1 The duration of Primary Inpatient Programs and Outpatient Care varies according to individual circumstances. Both Inpatient and Outpatient treatment is based around monthly (28 day) increments. As a general guideline we recommend between one to three months Primary Inpatient Programs for crack users, followed by one to two months of Outpatient Care in Bali, and up to six months of ongoing therapy (by Zoom or Skype from home). Program durations are dependent on individual circumstances – no two addictions or individuals are the same. The longer you stay in rehab, the better your chances of staying clean when you return home.

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