Abusing crack cocaine has many negative physical and emotional consequences. Recognizing the signs of use and abuse can save someone’s life.
Cocaine is illegal and addictive. Crack is a base form of cocaine that is commonly smoked, and has been called “the riskiest form.” Still, crack cocaine is abused and can affect a person’s life in many negative ways.
Some common signs of crack cocaine use and abuse are:
- Changes in behavior
- Changes in mood
- Physical signs of crack cocaine abuse
- Respiratory Issues Related To Crack Cocaine
- Crack Cocaine Paraphernalia
1. Changes In Behavior
As a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, crack cocaine use can drastically alter a person’s behavior. Crack causes narrowed blood vessels, which produces faster breathing and an increased heart rate.
The heightened stimulation of the body results in bursts of energy, euphoria, and hypersensitivity. These effects may cause a person to be hyperactive and to talk excessively, sometimes without making sense.
Crack cocaine can produce unusual aggression or restlessness. It can also give someone “jitters”—involuntary trembling or twitching of the body that can continue even when the high wears off.
People struggling with crack cocaine addiction often lose interest in things that used to be important to them. Jobs, friends, and financial obligations may become less important than their desire to take drugs. They may also suffer from loss of appetite and insomnia.
2. Changes In Mood
The neurotransmitter dopamine regulates feelings of pain and pleasure. Cocaine works by blocking the brain’s dopamine transporters to create a build-up, which results in a pleasurable sensation.
Right after using crack cocaine, a person may be positive, confident, and euphoric. The high is brief, lasting five to 15 minutes. When coming down, a person will likely experience a “crash” and a craving for more of the drug.
Other mood shifts associated with crack cocaine use and abuse are:
- panic attacks
The short duration of the high from crack cocaine paired with the uncomfortable after-effects can lead to binging in order to maintain the euphoria. Long-term use increases the risk of negative mood changes and drastic mood shifts.
3. Physical Signs Of Crack Cocaine Abuse
A common indicator of crack cocaine abuse is burns or blisters on lips and fingers from a hot crack pipe.
Poor dental hygiene to the point of tooth decay may also be a sign. With prolonged crack cocaine abuse, the mouth and nose dry out. Lowered saliva production means the teeth are less protected from decay. Cocaine also damages tooth enamel.
If crack is snorted, it can cause damage to the inside of the nose, often resulting in nosebleeds. With long-term use, crack cocaine can destroy the ability to smell.
People using crack cocaine may have red, bloodshot eyes and dilated pupils. They may also suffer from the sensation of bugs crawling underneath their skin (“coke bugs”), which can cause compulsive itching.
4. Respiratory Issues Related To Crack Cocaine
Smoking crack cocaine may come with a unique problem called “crack lung.” This is a serious condition involving fever, coughing up blood, low blood oxygen levels, and possible respiratory failure.
Other respiratory issues from crack cocaine abuse include:
- chest pain
- difficulty breathing
- hacking or chronic cough
- black mucus
- fluid or blood in lungs
Crack cocaine has been suggested to increase the risk of lung cancer. It also can damage airways, whether snorted through the nose or inhaled into the lungs.
5. Crack Cocaine Paraphernalia
Crack is often associated with smoking, but it can also be snorted or injected. The type of paraphernalia used with crack cocaine differs depending on the mode of intake.
A glass crack pipe is generally used for smoking, with a metal scouring pad or similar screen-like object used as a filter inside the pipe. It can also be smoked off of a piece of aluminum foil that is heated at the bottom, and the vapors may be inhaled through a straw or hollow pen.
When a person snorts crack cocaine, they may also use a straw, hollow pen, or rolled paper. Credit cards and razor blades are common tools for scraping the powdered crack into a line for snorting.
Injecting crack cocaine requires mixing it with an acidic substance, such as vinegar or lemon juice, to break it down into a liquid. This may be done on a metal spoon with a lighter beneath it. It is then injected with a syringe.
Dangers Of Crack Cocaine Use And Abuse
Crack cocaine is a base form of cocaine mixed with baking soda or ammonia. It looks like yellowish “rocks” rather than the white powder of pure cocaine. Despite being a less pure version of cocaine, crack is very potent and addictive.
Smoking takes a substance directly to the brain, which heightens the effects and produces a nearly instant high. Binging on crack cocaine to keep the high increases the risk of addiction, which can occur after only one use.
Withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, insomnia, and slowed brain function can set in after only a few uses as well.
Crack cocaine is often used with other substances. It may be smoked with marijuana or tobacco, or taken with heroin (called “speedballing”). Polysubstance abuse increases the risk of overdose and other drug-related issues.
Abusing crack cocaine can lead to dangerous diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. While sharing needles is a common cause of disease spreading, a 2007 study found that Hepatitis C could possibly be transmitted through open sores when sharing crack pipes.
Treatment For Crack Cocaine Addiction
There are no medications approved by the FDA specifically for crack cocaine addiction, but treatment options are available. Crack cocaine addiction does not have to control someone’s life.
Inpatient drug rehab centers provide individualized programs for people suffering from crack cocaine addiction. These may include community recovery groups or cognitive-behavioral therapy to help someone connect with others and change the way they live.
Contact us at drugrehab.org and discover the best treatment options for you.