Signs Of Crack Abuse: What To Look Out For

Crack cocaine is a dangerous and addictive drug. There are several signs of crack cocaine use that people can look for in loved ones who may have an addiction.

Crack cocaine is a relatively recent chapter in cocaine history, having only existed since the late 1970s.

Because crack use is such a recent form of substance abuse, many people view crack and powder cocaine as two entirely separate drugs.

However, the only major difference between crack and cocaine is the preparation process and the fact that crack contains baking soda.

Both crack and powder cocaine are illegal stimulant drugs that are derived from coca leaves.

Therefore, many signs of crack addiction are the same as the signs of cocaine addiction in general.

If a person is using any form of cocaine, including crack cocaine, these signs can alert family members and other loved ones.

Physical Signs Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

The physical signs of crack use are some of the most important cocaine facts that people should learn.

These signs provide some important indicators that a person is smoking crack, and they’re often some of the first indicators that a loved one should call a cocaine hotline or otherwise seek help.

Weight Loss And Facial Changes

Long-term crack use may result in extreme and rapid weight loss.

As a stimulant, crack cocaine often causes appetite loss as a side effect. With long-term crack use, a person may not consume enough calories.

Paradoxically, crack and other forms of cocaine may also cause bloating, especially around the face.

A person’s face may reveal other signs of crack abuse as well. Cocaine and other stimulants may cause dilated pupils, for instance.

It may also cause tooth decay due to smoking and the resulting dry mouth.

Altered Energy Levels

In the short term, the use of crack may cause intense bursts of energy. Cocaine stimulant effects may make a person feel especially upbeat and social.

However, the long-term effects of crack may include tiredness and lethargy.

As a person develops a tolerance for the drug, they may experience rebound fatigue and require larger amounts of crack to feel energized.

Heart Complications

Although heart complications cannot be seen from the outside, some heart-related health problems may still provide signs of crack cocaine abuse.

Crack cocaine may cause symptoms in the heart and vascular system, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • inflammation
  • constricted blood vessels
  • heart attack

These symptoms may cause complaints of chest pain, weakness, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

Mental Health Signs Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

All types of cocaine may drastically alter a person’s mood. Immediately after smoking crack, a person may feel happy, motivated, and accomplished.

Crack cocaine increases the brain’s dopamine, which is a chemical associated with happiness. This dopamine spike is what causes cocaine’s euphoric high.

However, crack cocaine also causes negative mood changes.

Some of these mood changes may include:

  • anxiety and panic
  • paranoia
  • depression, especially when not using the drug
  • mood swings
  • cocaine psychosis

Cognitive Signs Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Like other illicit substances, crack cocaine impacts the brain and thought patterns.

Short-Term Cognitive Effects

At first, due to the increase of dopamine, these cognition changes may not appear negative.

In addition to playing a role in happiness, dopamine also increases motivation and clearheadedness.

Immediately after using crack cocaine, some people feel intensely focused. In fact, cocaine has been misused for ADHD symptom relief.

Some people have also used cocaine to cope with the pressure of tight deadlines, work tasks, and school projects.

Long-Term Cognitive Effects

In the long term, however, crack cocaine use does impact the brain negatively, and that impact may impair cognition.

Some long-term cognitive signs of crack use may include:

  • clouded thinking when not using the drug
  • learning difficulties
  • memory problems
  • difficulty performing motor tasks
  • difficulty sustaining attention
  • poor impulse control

Behavioral Signs Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Drug addiction, including crack cocaine addiction, may also change a person’s behavior.

Many of these behavioral signs of drug addiction apply to substances other than crack cocaine, but they may indicate cocaine use when combined with other signs listed above.

Some behavioral signs of a substance use disorder may include:

  • lying or keeping secrets
  • taking unnecessary risks
  • neglecting responsibilities
  • social isolation
  • replacing old friends with new ones
  • spending large amounts of money
  • arrests and other legal trouble
  • changes in grooming and hygiene
  • loss of interest in hobbies

Crack Paraphernalia

The presence of paraphernalia may also indicate drug use.

Crack cocaine is consumed almost exclusively by smoking, so crack paraphernalia consists of items that facilitate that process.

Some crack paraphernalia items include:

  • glass pipes
  • aluminum foil
  • spoons
  • lighters

Find Treatment For Crack Substance Abuse

Crack addiction is a difficult mental health disorder, but it is possible to recover with the right addiction treatment options.

Spring Hill Recovery Center is a treatment facility that offers both inpatient rehab and outpatient services, as well as detox to help with withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

If you or a loved one need a crack addiction treatment program, contact Spring Hill Recovery Center today.

  1. National Institute On Drug Abuse — What Are The Long-Term Effects Of Cocaine Use?
  2. New York Office Of Addiction Services And Supports — Warning Signs
  3. United States Department Of Justice — Drug Paraphernalia Fast Facts

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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