Crack Addiction

Recent studies have shown that hospital admissions for mental health disorders linked to cocaine use have skyrocketed in the past decade. This is no surprise considering the side effects from crack cocaine such as psychosis, but these are still startling finds that show an uptick around the globe of crack cocaine use. While there are several problems stemming from cocaine use on its own, there have been new revelations about what crack dealers are up to. It is shown that some crack has recently been found to contain the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.

With the emergence of fentanyl in crack around the country, it made a dire situation worse. An article recently released by United Press International (UPI) states that within a four-day period, a Philadelphia hospital treated 18 patients for an apparent opioid overdose even though they’d only been smoking crack cocaine. Of those 18, three succumbed to their injuries and eventually died. One thing they had in common was a high level of fentanyl found in their systems.



Let’s remove fentanyl from the equation and focus on how deadly crack cocaine is on its own. One reason for this is its instant onset and short-lived high. It is the perfect drug for dealers because it does not last very long, and it will leave users in a trance and trying to get more. Once users run out, they will go to extreme levels to get more; one case even highlights a woman trying to sell her daughter to obtain more crack. In a normal frame of mind, this is not something anyone could fathom, but the power of crack cocaine is troublesome. It has even been referred to as the devil’s drug.

Crack cocaine is by far one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in our society. In 2014 alone, there were 913,000 people suffering from a cocaine use disorder. This translated into 5,000 deaths attributed to the use of cocaine. While it has been noted how dangerous crack can be to the individual, the stories we are hearing about it being laced with fentanyl can be deadly. These are two completely different drugs boasting opposite effects and could instantly cause an overdose in someone who uses them.

What Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a powerfully reinforcing psychostimulant, and the drug itself, cocaine, is found in alkaloid leaves in the South American shrub called Erythroxylon coca. The drug induces a sense of exhilaration by blocking the reuptake of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Crack is a crystal form of powder cocaine, and it comes in blocks or crystals that vary in colors. It most often is sold in an off-white color. The drug is called crack is due to the noise it makes when it is heated and smoked. Crack is one of the more pure forms of the drug and consistently registers between 75 percent and 100 percent purity.

crack addiction symptoms

The method in which it is consumed gives the user a more instant rush. Smoking the drug ensures the high reaches the brain much quicker. As a result, there is an intense and immediate but short-lived high. The high lasts up to 15 minutes from start to comedown. Smoking crack can cause addiction after just a single use, which makes it different from other drugs. The method of smoking is actually much more dangerous than snorting cocaine powder.

The problem with crack use is that as a binge continues on, the high becomes less intense despite the amount being consumed. The levels of dopamine in the user’s body will begin running dangerously low, and there is nothing that will give them the euphoric rush they’re seeking. The brain requires time to replenish the dopamine levels, and when there is a substance taxing it every couple of minutes, it allows no time for more to be produced. Eventually, the brain will run out of dopamine, and the user will fall into withdrawal.

Symptoms of withdrawal from crack abuse include:

  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Psychosis

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What Are the Signs of Crack Use?

Addiction in most cases is often difficult to pinpoint, but crack cocaine can be easily detected even in early stages of addiction. Crack cocaine doesn’t follow the typical stages of a substance use disorder the same way most drugs do. While each person is affected differently, in more cases than not an individual will become addicted shortly after their first use.

There are certain things to look for when someone abuses crack cocaine. The user will often leave tiny bags around with small off-white rocks of crack, and there may be something called brillo laying around. This is a good indicator someone is using. Brillo’s purpose is to stop remnants of crack as a screen from entering their throat when smoking from a pipe. Users also can leave broken crack pipes (stems) around.

There are other immediate physical signs of crack use that can help determine if someone is using. 

Crack addiction can occur almost instantaneously, and the user will continue to chase the first rush they experienced. It is important to know what to look for. The signs include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Restless
  • Mood swings
  • Hallucinations
  • False sense of confidence
  • Confusion
  • Premature aging
  • Stealing to obtain crack

Withdrawals are extremely common after stopping or running out of crack. This will push the user into intense drug cravings, and they will show signs of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Psychosis
  • Complete loss of reality

How Does Crack Addiction Treatment Work?

Addiction has no cure and is a chronic progressive disease that can last a lifetime. Fortunately, the science behind it has become extremely in-depth and netted better results than in years past. Crack addiction treatment is often difficult, but the drug itself can leave the user feeling depleted and ready to take the next steps toward recovery. Treatment itself will not resolve cravings, which some crack users may experience the rest of their lives. But it will offer therapies that will change behaviors for when they do occur. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is widely used as a means of treating addiction.

Addiction treatment follows a continuum of care that begins at the most intensive stage. The first step is called medical detoxification. This is where you will spend three to seven days in an intensive, around-the-clock, and supervised setting where you will rid the foreign substances from your body. This will help mitigate anything unexpected such as psychosis that could occur. Upon entry to detox, you will have been assessed by the medical staff to determine the course of treatment.

If the staff sees fit, the client will be placed into a residential treatment center. There are variables when determining placement such as a history of relapse, a safe living environment free from drugs, and the severity of addiction. 

rehab for crack addicts

If certain criteria are met, the client will be required to complete an additional stay in intensive care. During the time in a residential facility, the client can spend anywhere from 30 days to 90 days, taking part in therapies that help them get to the root of the addiction and taking care of any other medical needs.

If the staff determines the addiction is not much of a threat and the client has no history of relapse, they can be placed in an outpatient program. This allows them to take part in the same type of therapy sessions they would in residential, but the user can return home after therapy concludes. This will give them a better chance to practice their newly learned tools in society sooner than someone who’s in residential treatment.

Crack Cocaine Statistics

  • 86.7% of women were not involved in prostitution in the year before starting crack use
  • One-third of women were involved in prostitution in the year after they began to use
  • 86.7% of women were not involved in prostitution in the year before starting crack use

Start Your Crack Addiction recovery Today

Crack addiction has the potential to take the best moments in our lives away, but with the advances in addiction science, healing is a real option. If you or a loved one is suffering from crack addiction, you are not alone. 

You don’t need to live the rest of your life in active addiction. Reach out to one of our addiction specialists to learn more about how we can help. Please call us at (844) 326-4514 or contact us online today.