Crack, which is often called crack cocaine, is cocaine that is turned into rock form by treating it with ammonia or baking soda. This form of the drug is easy to smoke and highly addictive. Cocaine in any form is extremely harmful, but when it is processed into crack it is even more dangerous. Smoking crack allows it to flow to the brain faster than the practice of snorting cocaine.

The effects of smoking crack are immediate. Crack users get an intense high, but it does not last long. They have to smoke crack again to repeat the experience. Tolerance to the drug builds quickly ― even after one use ― which makes it easy to become addicted to crack. Common street names for crack cocaine include:

  • Dice
  • Candy
  • Rocks
  • Hard rock
  • Sleet
  • Hail
  • Base
  • Cookies
  • Nuggets
  • Jelly beans
  • Gravel

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of crack abuse, drug rehab at The Ranch treatment center can help you reclaim your life or save the life of someone you love.

Signs of Crack Abuse

Sometimes it is difficult to tell which type of drug is being used by someone involved in drug abuse. But there are some telltale signs of crack use to look for if you suspect crack abuse. For example, someone abusing crack might exhibit these warning signs:

  • Dilated pupils. This is common with all stimulant drugs and is a sign of crack abuse.
  • Change in demeanor. There is often a sense of restlessness or fidgety behavior.
  • Breathing changes. When a person smokes crack their breathing rate gets faster.
  • Belligerent behavior. Crack users may get aggressive or violent.
  • Recklessness. The person may seem irresponsible or engage in unusual behavior patterns.
  • Physical signs. They may have blisters on their lips or other signs of crack use, such as finger burns or dark marks.
  • Physical evidence. Crack users often disappear from view to smoke crack, multiple times. They may leave behind small plastic bags with the residue or small particles of the illicit drug.

Warning Signs of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack addiction and abuse often follow the same paths because experimentation with smoking crack can quickly turn into dependence. When someone smokes crack, it elicits a strong response from the nervous system. Dopamine floods the reward system in the brain. People enjoy the high so much they want to use it again. Afterward, they may have intense cravings for crack. They use it again, and over time the brain begins to rewire itself, unable to do without the illicit drug. The crack user gets trapped in a pattern of substance abuse and may need addiction treatment to get better. 

Some of the warning signs of crack use include:

  • Increase in reckless and risky behavior
  • Personality changes
  • Reduced sleep
  • Loss of motivation and desire to be part of the world
  • Isolation and pulling into oneself or one’s room
  • Difficulty paying attention, or short attention span
  • Unexpected anger and expressions of anger
  • Paranoia and anxiousness that is intense, yet seem seems unwarranted
  • Extreme mood swings and unpredictable behavior
  • Physical changes, such as weight loss and burns on lips and hands
  • Mental illness such as depression
  • Financial problems due to spending expenses money on crack.

Long-Term Symptoms of Crack Use

The effects of crack can have a lasting impact. It deeply compromises the user’s mental health with severe depression and disturbances in mood. The person may feel plagued by paranoid behavior. Or they may experience psychosis or delirium, such as hallucinations of hearing voices or feeling something on their skin.

There are many physical symptoms of crack use. These are the most dangerous effects of prolonged crack abuse:

  • Heart disease and heart attack
  • High blood pressure and stroke
  • Rapid breathing and respiratory failure
  • Sexual dysfunction and infertility
  • Damage to reproductive organs
  • Seizures in the brain

Withdrawal from Crack Cocaine

Crack users often use more of the drug and more frequently to avoid symptoms of withdrawal from crack cocaine. In order to heal from crack addiction, they may need medically supervised detox. This process helps them get the drug out of their system. Crack cocaine withdrawal has both immediate symptoms (such as bad dreams and high anxiety) and longer term symptoms (such as cravings and shaking). All can be addressed in a substance abuse treatment program.

Addressing behavioral health is an important part of recovery from crack addiction. Drug and alcohol rehab centers can also address co-occurring mental health disorders, which helps guard against relapse. The diverse range of therapies, from cognitive behavioral therapy to alternative approaches like yoga, can help bring you or your loved one back to health.

Krisi Herron

Medically Reviewed by

Krisi Herron, LCDC

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