Effects Of Crack Cocaine: Short Term And Long Term
Crack cocaine has dangerous side effects that impact the body, brain, and emotions.
Crack cocaine, which is a hardened mixture of powder cocaine and baking soda, is a smokable stimulant drug that causes a short-acting high.
Abusing crack cocaine may cause several short-term and long-term side effects.
Because crack uses powder cocaine as its primary ingredient, many of crack’s side effects overlap with cocaine’s side effects in general.
However, a crack cocaine high only lasts for a few minutes, causing some to smoke crack repeatedly for a prolonged high. This repeated use may increase the chances of experiencing dangerous side effects.
Furthermore, smoking crack causes the drug to enter the bloodstream quickly and in high concentrations, which can also increase these risks.
As a result, smoking crack is one of the most dangerous forms of drug use in the U.S.
Short-Term Effects Of Crack Cocaine
Some effects of crack cocaine use begin immediately after a person uses the drug.
When crack cocaine enters the bloodstream, it has a powerful impact on the brain.
In response to crack cocaine, the brain stops removing and storing dopamine, a brain chemical that influences happiness and feelings of accomplishment.
As a result, large amounts of dopamine remain in place, which causes a euphoric high. During this high, a person may feel particularly happy, talkative, and energized.
However, crack cocaine may also cause side effects, even in the short term. In fact, some people experience these effects while using crack cocaine for the first time.
Short-Term Physical Effects
Most of the short-term effects of cocaine, including the immediate effects of crack, are physical in nature.
Some of the short-term physical effects of crack include:
- cocaine effects on the heart, such as increased heart rate, high blood pressure, constricted blood vessels, chest pain, and heart attack
- dilated pupils
- elevated body temperature
- tremors and twitches
Though rare, it is not impossible for a person to experience sudden death due to the short-term use of crack, usually due to a cocaine-induced seizure or heart attack.
When alcohol abuse occurs alongside crack cocaine abuse, the risk of drug-induced sudden death increases significantly.
Short-Term Mental Health Effects
Although crack cocaine produces many mental health side effects, most of those side effects occur over time.
However, crack does create a few short-term emotional effects, most of which are anxiety-related. Somebody who uses crack may feel scared, panicked, or paranoid.
Some have reported feeling irritable and experiencing mood swings while using crack cocaine.
Long-Term Effects Of Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine produces several long-term effects as well. The long-term effects of cocaine impact both physical and behavioral health, and they include changes in the brain.
Long-Term Physical Effects
Over time, crack cocaine use, like other forms of drug use, causes physical damage to the body.
Some long-term physical effects of crack include:
- respiratory problems from lung damage
- liver and other internal organ damage
- malnutrition and weight loss from cocaine use
- tooth decay from crack use
- fatigue and lethargy when not using the drug
- sleep disturbances
- heart inflammation and other heart problems
Long-Term Mental Health Effects
Crack cocaine use may also cause new mental health struggles and worsen existing mental health conditions.
Some long-term mental effects of crack cocaine include:
- mood swings
- increased sensitivity to stress
Long-term crack use also increases the risk of experiencing cocaine-related psychosis.
Long-Term Brain Changes
The more a person abuses crack, the more that person’s brain will attempt to adapt to their drug abuse.
Crack cocaine addiction begins because the brain gets used to experiencing a large release of dopamine. As a result, the brain becomes less sensitive to dopamine over time.
Ordinary amounts of dopamine will no longer make the person feel happy and satisfied, so the person may continue to smoke crack to avoid feelings of depression.
This person may also experience intense cravings and other signs of withdrawal when not using crack cocaine.
Crack cocaine’s impact on the brain may also affect how a person thinks and processes information.
While crack sometimes makes people feel alert and focused in the short term, it often does the opposite over time.
Some cognitive effects of crack cocaine include:
- difficulty focusing
- poor decision-making skills
- memory loss
Crack Cocaine Overdose
A crack cocaine overdose may occur at any time when a person abuses the drug, including the first time. However, the risk of overdose may increase with repeated use.
When people use cocaine repeatedly, they become less sensitive to the drug’s euphoric effects.
At the same time, they may become more sensitive to cocaine-related health problems.
A person may use large amounts of cocaine to achieve the same high, even as they become more sensitive to the negative effects.
This combination may cause a cocaine overdose. Unlike an opioid overdose, a cocaine overdose has no approved medication to reverse its effects.
A person experiencing cocaine overdose should receive emergency healthcare as soon as possible.
Some signs of cocaine overdose include:
- agitation and confusion
- loss of awareness
- nausea and vomiting
- difficulty breathing
- bluish skin
Find Addiction Treatment For Crack Cocaine Abuse
Substance abuse is a difficult disorder, and its impacts on the brain and body make it even more difficult to overcome. Fortunately, with the right treatment provider, recovery is possible.
Spring Hill Recovery Center is a rehab center in Massachusetts offering evidence-based care for any form of cocaine addiction. Our treatment facility offers both inpatient and outpatient options.
If you or a loved one have an addiction to crack cocaine, contact Spring Hill Recovery Center to learn about our treatment center and start the detox process.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2023 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — The Role Of Illicit Drug Use In Sudden Death In The Young https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28084963/
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
- National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Short-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use? https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-short-term-effects-cocaine-use
- National Library Of Medicine — Cocaine Intoxication https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000946.htm