Crack Cocaine Abuse, Addiction, And Treatment Programs

Crack cocaine is a crystal rock form of cocaine that is highly addictive. Treatment programs for crack cocaine addiction can help people learn to stay sober and prevent relapse in addiction recovery.

Crack cocaine is a rock crystal form of cocaine that is created by mixing powdered cocaine with baking soda or ammonia. Like powder forms of cocaine, crack is highly addictive.

When heated, this creates a rock formation that can be inhaled, smoked, or injected. When smoked, crack can cause an immediate high.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), out of over 5.5 million people who reported using cocaine, about 757,000 people used crack in 2018.

Recovering from crack cocaine addiction isn’t easy, but it is possible. Continue reading to learn more about crack cocaine and how you or a loved one may recover from substance abuse.

What’s The Difference Between Crack And Cocaine?

Knowing the difference between crack and cocaine can help you to identify the signs of use in a loved one.

Read on to learn what crack cocaine is, the history of crack abuse, and how addictive this substance may be.

What Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is one of the many forms of cocaine available. While cocaine is most often a powder, crack cocaine is a rock or crystalline form of this drug.

It tends to be much more concentrated in this state than it is as a powder.

However, it can be easier to hide other substances in this rock form, as they are baked into the drug rather than cut together.

Crack Cocaine’s History

Both crack and cocaine are derived from the leaves of the coca plant. However, crack cocaine became much more commonplace in the U.S. after the popularization of cocaine in the 1980s.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) reports that imports of cocaine rose sharply from the 1970s to the 1980s, causing the price of cocaine to drop.

Dealers then took the powder form of the drug and converted it into a crystalized version known as crack cocaine.

Crack was easy to produce and available in low quantities, making it more profitable for drug dealers at the time.

Find more information on the history of crack cocaine.

Crack Vs. Coke: What’s More Addictive?

Both forms of cocaine are highly addictive and dangerous. Any quantity of either crack or coke can quickly lead to addiction.

Crack and coke produce the same effects; however, the method of ingestion can determine which drug may be more addictive. So, is crack or coke more addictive?

Typically, snorting or rubbing cocaine (as is common with coke use) won’t produce a high as quickly as injecting or smoking (as is common with crack use).

A quicker, more intense high can influence a stronger cycle of using, crashing, and using again to feel high.

So while both drugs are equally addictive, crack may be more likely to cause dependence due to the stronger effects of smoking and injecting the drug.

Learn more about crack vs. cocaine.

How To Identify Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine comes in the form of rock-like, irregular chunks, which have a distinctive taste, smell, and look.

Here is how to identify crack by appearance, smell, and paraphernalia:

How Crack Is Made

Crack cocaine is created by mixing powdered cocaine, water, and another substance such as baking soda. This combination is then boiled, resulting in a sold, crystalline rock substance.

It is then broken into smaller pieces, which are more concentrated than pure cocaine. This is called “crack cocaine” because of the crackling sound produced when the drug is smoked.

Learn more about how crack is made.

Effects Of Crack Cocaine

While cocaine in all its forms is well known for its short-term effects, its long-term health outcomes can be very dangerous.

Below are some of the most common short-term and long-term effects of crack.

Short-Term Effects

Crack can affect the brain with a number of powerful short-term effects, including an intense feeling of pleasure, hyperactivity, and talkativeness.

Other effects may include:

  • hostility and violence
  • dilated pupils
  • intense paranoia
  • runny nose and irritation of nasal tissue
  • erratic jaw or eye movements
  • irregular or increased heartbeat
  • chest pain
  • life-threatening cardiac problems, even from a person’s first use of the drug

Long-Term Effects

Crack cocaine addiction can cause a number of long-term effects on physical and mental health.

Long-term effects may include:

  • reduced blood flow
  • permanent damage to the blood vessels
  • malnutrition
  • organ damage
  • nosebleeds
  • scarring and abscesses
  • respiratory distress
  • tooth decay from crack use

Living with an addiction to crack can also cause severe depression. People with substance use disorders are at greater risk for suicidal thoughts and risky behaviors.

How Crack Cocaine Affects The Brain

Crack cocaine is an illegal central nervous system stimulant drug that can affect mood and behavior.

Crack, which is more often used by people already addicted to cocaine, is even more potent than its powder form. This potency can make it more addictive.

When smoked, crack reaches the brain much faster than when it’s snorted, producing an immediate crack cocaine high lasting about 15 minutes.

This can cause a rapid increase in heart rate, dilated pupils, and other visible signs of substance use.

In addition, cocaine increases the amount of dopamine in the brain, which can affect movement and the brain’s reward system. It can also reinforce continued drug use.

Chronic use can cause an increased tolerance to crack, requiring that a person take higher doses to feel its effects, intensifying crack cravings.

How Crack Cocaine Is Used

By far, the most common method of using crack cocaine is smoking the drug through a glass pipe or tube.

Smoking crack cocaine in this way will produce near-immediate effects of euphoria through smoke inhalation.

This cocaine high will usually last for about five to fifteen minutes. However, crack cocaine remains in the system for two to three days.

Other methods include:

Signs Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine addiction can present itself in many different ways. However, there are many common signs a person is using crack.

Physical signs of crack cocaine use can include:

  • dilated pupils, or “cocaine eyes
  • loss of appetite and nausea
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • muscle twitches and tremors

Mental signs of crack cocaine use may feature:

  • aggressive or violent behavior
  • hyperactivity and high energy levels
  • anxiety and irritability
  • insomnia, restlessness, and sleep changes
  • paranoia

Signs specific to how crack cocaine is most often used are:

  • burned or cracked lips from smoke inhalation
  • marks of injection points on the skin
  • owning or hiding crack cocaine paraphernalia, such as pipes for smoking

Street Price Of Cocaine

As reported by the United Nations in 2019, crack cocaine costs about $60 per gram. This is less than the powdered form of the drug, which costs between $93 and $163 depending on purity.

These prices may go up in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find more information on the cost of crack on the street.

Dangers Of Abusing Crack Cocaine

Smoking crack cocaine can have intense effects on mood, movement, and behavior. It can also impair a person’s sense of reality, causing paranoia and other symptoms of psychosis.

Dangerous side effects of crack cocaine can occur both in people who have chronically abused cocaine and people using it for the first time.

Dangers of crack cocaine use include:

Polysubstance Abuse

In the last decade, rates of cocaine use have been on the rise, largely due to the opioid crisis. More and more people are mixing opioids with cocaine for a more powerful drug experience.

Polysubstance abuse — abusing multiple drugs at once — can increase someone’s risk for drug overdose and other serious complications.

Crack Overdose

Crack overdose can occur when someone has taken greater amounts of cocaine than their body can handle.

Your risk for crack cocaine overdose is higher if you’ve recently detoxed or if you’ve taken crack with other drugs.

Signs of crack cocaine overdose include:

  • seizures
  • difficulty breathing
  • high blood pressure
  • high body temperature
  • severe agitation
  • irregular heartbeat

Overdose can be intentional or unintentional. Without immediate treatment, crack overdose may cause life-threatening symptoms, including heart attack and stopped breathing.

Heart Attack

In addition to seizures, heart complications are one of the primary causes of death among people who use crack.

Taking crack, even just once, can risk serious effects on the heart, including palpitations and heart attacks.

Violent Behavior

Cocaine can stimulate hostile and aggressive behavior, as well as paranoia and impulsiveness.

Criminal behavior and violence are common among people with chronic drug abuse issues. This is due in part to the effects of the drugs, as well as a desperation to get more of them.

Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Addiction to crack can have sweeping effects on virtually all areas of a person’s life. It can affect how you think, feel, and behave.

Drug addiction can hurt your relationships, negatively affect your ability to work, and cause significant consequences to your physical and mental wellbeing.

In Massachusetts, about 30% of people who seek substance abuse treatment report using cocaine in the past year. This translates to tens of thousands of people.

Treatment for crack addiction can come in many forms:

The type of treatment program a person needs may vary by their level of drug use, physical health status, and mental health history.

Some people have argued for crack cocaine vapes as a harm reduction strategy; however, there is still debate over whether this is a viable way to recover from the addiction.

The following are evidence-based, proven treatment methods for crack addiction.

Withdrawal And Detoxification

After becoming physically dependent on cocaine, stopping your crack cocaine use may cause withdrawal symptoms.

Unlike alcohol abuse or addiction to heroin, cocaine withdrawal is unlikely to cause physical symptoms. Instead, mental symptoms are more common for crack withdrawal.

Crack cocaine withdrawal may cause:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • increased appetite

The biggest danger of withdrawal is your risk of relapse. Beginning a detox program can help mitigate this risk.

Inpatient detox and treatment is the safest way to get sober from cocaine and receive support as you undergo withdrawal.

Outpatient detox may also be viable. However, with outpatient detox, a person is more likely to return to crack use.

Inpatient Rehab Programs

Inpatient rehab programs offer around-the-clock supervision within a supportive treatment environment.

Rehab centers that treat cocaine addiction may offer a wide range of treatments and therapies to aid residents in early addiction recovery.

Spring Hill, a New England rehab center, offers customized residential treatment for crack cocaine abuse, as well as access to medical detox.

Within our residential rehab program, residents follow a structured routine during the day, where they may attend substance abuse counseling, group therapy, and meet with a clinician.

Our residential rehab program for crack cocaine addiction includes:

  • behavioral therapy
  • motivational interviewing
  • mindfulness practices
  • outdoor-based therapy
  • integrated clinical care
  • 12-step groups

Spring Hill takes a whole-person treatment approach that recognizes that addiction recovery requires more than just getting sober.

By entering our inpatient program, our rehab center can provide a safe place for you to heal from the effects of your addiction and learn supportive strategies for a fulfilling, drug-free future.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment is a less intensive form of treatment. This does not involve living at a treatment center.

Instead, residents may attend counseling, support groups, and meet with clinical and psychiatric providers as needed to monitor their health.

Outpatient treatment programs, such as day treatment and intensive outpatient, may be most suitable for people who:

  • have recently completed inpatient rehab
  • have mild substance abuse issues that don’t require a higher level of care
  • are looking for ongoing support in early addiction recovery

In addition to formal outpatient programs, many people can also benefit from attending community support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

This can help people in recovery to remain accountable in their sobriety. It also provides an opportunity to share and learn from others who have had similar experiences with drug abuse.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, some support groups that have typically been held in person are now offered virtually.

Aftercare For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Aftercare services, such as individual case management and continued care coordination, can provide long-term treatment planning to reduce the risk of drug relapse.

At Spring Hill, our primary forms of aftercare include alumni support and assistance in coordinating sober living arrangements.

Our alumni support network connects current and former Spring Hill clients and provides access to alumni recovery support groups and events.

Further, our aftercare professionals can identify community-based sources of support for residents returning home after treatment.

FAQs About Crack Cocaine

If you are looking to learn more information about crack cocaine, read on to find the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions about the drug.

What Type Of Drug Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is a fast-acting stimulant drug, which is commonly smoked or injected. It is a Schedule II drug, meaning it is highly addictive and is illegal except in certain medical situations.

Is Crack Cocaine A Stimulant?

Crack cocaine is a stimulant drug, meaning it increases the speed of signals sent along the central nervous system. This results in an increase in energy levels, alertness, and other effects.

Why Is Crack Cheaper Than Cocaine?

While cocaine and crack cocaine prices can vary depending on source, purity, and more, powdered cocaine tends to cost more than crack.

This is because it less pure in this form, and produces shorter (thought more intense) periods of euphoria.

What Are The Most Common Crack Cocaine Addiction Signs?

There are many potential signs of crack cocaine addiction in a loved one.

Some of the most common are:

  • dilated pupils, or “cocaine eyes”
  • restlessness, aggression, or anxiety
  • burned or cracked lips from smoke inhalation
  • nausea and loss of appetite
  • having crack cocaine paraphernalia
  • insomnia and other changes in sleep patterns
  • marks on the skin from injecting cocaine

What Is Crack Cocaine’s Effect On The Mouth?

Because crack cocaine is a stimulant, muscles throughout the body tend to move faster while using this drug. This can result in teeth grinding, gum disease, tooth decay, and more.

How Does Crack Cocaine Affect The Eyes?

Cocaine use often dilated pupils, sometimes called “cocaine eyes.” Similar to the mouth, cocaine can affect the eyes by increasing the speed at which they move, causing erratic motion.

Can You Buy Crack Cocaine Online?

As with most other illicit substances, it is possible to buy cocaine and crack cocaine online. Just like for in-person drug sales, dangerous cocaine additives may be mixed in with this substance.

Can Crack Cocaine Kill You?

It is possible to die from crack cocaine use. The use of this drug increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, seizures, and other life-threatening conditions.

Can You Overdose On Crack Cocaine?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on crack cocaine. Side effects can include seizures, heart attacks, and stopped breathing. This can occur with a person’s first use of this drug.

What Are Crack Cocaine’s Effects On The Face?

Puffiness and bloating are common with crack cocaine use. This is because crack narrows the blood vessels and causes dehydration. Cocaine additives may also cause additional bloating.

This phenomenon is commonly called “coke bloat.”

Find Treatment For Crack Abuse And Addiction At Spring Hill

If you’re seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one in the Greater New England area, we are here to help.

Spring Hill is an accredited addiction treatment center that offers residential rehab and intensive outpatient treatment from our peaceful facility situated in the woodlands of Ashby, Massachusetts.

At Spring Hill, you’ll find:

  • compassionate health care
  • customized programming
  • evidence-based treatment
  • dual diagnosis treatment
  • family weekends
  • alumni support

Our New England treatment center serves the state of Massachusetts, as well as surrounding New England states.

If you live outside of Massachusetts, we’re happy to help you coordinate travel arrangements and verify insurance.

Don’t wait to learn what we can do for you. Call us today to learn more about Spring Hill’s crack cocaine treatment programs and the types of treatment services we offer.

  1. Drug Policy Alliance — What is the difference between cocaine and crack?
  2. National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — Crack cocaine abuse: an epidemic with many public health consequences
  3. National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine (Crack, Coke) Drug Facts, Effects, Use | NIDA for Teens
  4. National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Cocaine DrugFacts
  5. National Institutes of Health (NIH) | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)— How is cocaine used?
  6. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — 2019 National Drug Threat Assessment WebMD — Cocaine vs. Crack: What's the Difference?

Written by Spring Hill Recovery Editorial Team

© 2024 Spring Hill Recovery | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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