Crack Cocaine Addiction Signs and Symptoms

What is crack?

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive smokable (and, if dissolved, injectable) form of cocaine, used recreationally for it’s short-lived but intense “high”.

It provides feelings of euphoria and exhilaration, confidence, disinhibition, and increased libido; however, once the “high” recedes users can experience intense cravings for crack, along with depression and dysphoria.

Crack is generally seen as a lower-status, “dirty” drug compared with powdered cocaine, thanks in part to its association with impoverished urban environments and the usually negative portrayal in the media of “crackheads” (crack addicts”) and “crack whores” (people turning to sex work to fund their addictions).

It is a Class A controlled substance in the UK, with potentially extremely stiff penalties for possession and supply.

Key Facts about Crack Cocaine

Statistics on crack use in the UK  suggest that there are currently nearly 200,000 users of crack cocaine in the country, with this number steadily rising over the past few years (partly in consequence of increased availability, including in rural areas, and a drop in price on the street of around 13% over the last decade).

Crack use can result in addiction extremely quickly, and prolonged use can result in very serious damage to health, including a risk of death; consuming crack whilst pregnant can also cause damage to the unborn child, which may be born addicted to crack with significant implications for post-natal care.

8 Signs and Symptoms of Crack Addiction

When a user/addict is high it will usually be extremely obvious that a person is under the influence, as their behaviour and appearance are likely to differ significantly from the norm. Signs that a person is high on crack could include:

  • Extremely erratic behaviour
  • Heavy perspiration
  • Talking loudly and rapidly
  • Aggression
  • Manic laughter
  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitches/spasms
  • Sexually suggestive or aggressive behaviour

If you are in the company of a person high on crack, they will have consumed the drug relatively recently and may, therefore, smell somewhat of the drug (a smoke with a pungent chemical odour which you would not mistake for cigarette smoke).

If a person has become addicted to crack, rather than simply using it, you may notice symptoms such as insomnia, decreased appetite and weight loss, and an array of behavioural and lifestyle changes.

Implications for Long-Term Abuse

As noted above, crack is extremely addictive: addiction can begin to set in after only a few doses (especially if, as typically happens, a new user is overwhelmed by the intensity of the “high” and wants to consume more immediately). Over the long term, crack addiction can have devastating effects on a person’s physical and mental health and on every aspect of their life.

Physical Effects

Crack can begin to take a toll on an addict’s body quite quickly resulting in

  • A deep cough/a sore throat
  • Significant weight loss
  • Organ damage/failure
  • Heart disease/attacks
  • Strokes
  • Risky sexual behaviour
  • Sexually suggestive or aggressive behaviour

Effects on Mental Health

The feeling of depression a user experiences when the crack “high” is over can become many times worse when the person is addicted, as their craving for the drug becomes unbearable.

Whilst high, and potentially during withdrawal, they may experience hallucinations and delirium, and extremely volatile mood swings; they may also become terribly aggressive and potentially violent

Crack abuse can cause persistent psychosis, permanent behavioural changes, altered sexual desires, profound paranoia and anxiety. It can also result in a permanent reduction in a person’s cognitive faculties – lowered intelligence – as a result of physical damage and changes to the structure of the brain.

Next: Crack cocaine detox and rehab

Crack Cocaine FAQ

What’s the difference between cocaine and crack cocaine?

The two drugs look different: cocaine is normally available as a (white) powder, while crack comes in “rocks” – white or off-white crystal-type lumps (though those can be crushed up, resulting in a powder which might look very similar to “normal” cocaine).

Crack is almost always smoked (though it can be dissolved and injected) while cocaine powder is usually snorted (though, again, it can also be injected). The effects of crack tend to be much more intense than those of powdered cocaine and are over much more quickly; the cravings and other withdrawal symptoms associated with crack are similarly more intense.

Historically, crack has been viewed as a lower-status drug than powdered cocaine and the stigma attached to its abuse has been more marked in consequence. In the UK, they are both Class A controlled substances and theoretically treated the same by judges.

Is crack cocaine more addictive than powdered cocaine?

In short, yes, but it should be noted that crack cocaine and powder cocaine are virtually identical, chemically speaking. Neither drug is physically addictive in the sense that the body becomes dependent on either as it may do with other substances, e.g. alcohol, but both are extremely psychologically addictive.

Whether crack is more addictive than cocaine, on a strictly biochemical basis, is debatable; however, in practice, it almost invariably feels more addictive, because of the very short duration of its effects and the intensity of the cravings a user feels once the “high” is over, as discussed above.

Furthermore, because of the rapid onset of addiction and the drastic lifestyle changes which can result, a user may quickly come to feel utterly subservient to the drug and to develop an overwhelming need to spend every waking moment “high”.

We specialise in providing tailored detox & rehab programmes to the client with dedicated family support. Crack cocaine addiction rarely affects just the individual, and we appreciate that this can be a stressful time for all those concerned. If you have any questions regarding crack detox & rehab clinics, treatment needs, locations and cost – we can answer them!

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