What You Need to Know About Addiction and The Effects of Crack Cocaine

Cocaine has been around for a very long time, originally making its appearance by historic mention in 1551, the drug was not isolated from its mother substance–the South American Coca Plant–until the 1850s. At first, cocaine was considered to be a “wonder drug”, working miracles in the medical field as a pain reliever and surgical anesthetic. But the dreams that surrounded cocaine and its medical future quickly faded. By the end of the 1980s, cocaine had made a new name for itself as one of the most commonly misused substances in U.S. history, resulting in the first wave of the crack epidemic.

Defining Epidemics, Substance Abuse, and Addiction

The term “epidemic” can be attributed to many different instances and inferences, but most commonly can be defined as the disproportionately large effects of anyone substance, on a set of individuals in a population, community, or region at the same time. Epidemics are commonly characterized by widespread growth–or use of–the substance by a large number of people, that continues to grow or increase rapidly. Epidemics can have sudden outbreaks that spread quickly, like in cases of fast-spreading epidemic diseases. Substance use disorders and addiction are considered to be a type of disease that affects the mind. Substance abuse disorders are typically characterized by an individual’s inability to control their impulses, actions, cravings, or use of an outside substance, like crack, alcohol, or any other type of drug.

This lack of impulse control can rapidly develop, spiraling out of control quickly, and thus managing to affect every area of an individual’s personal and professional lives, from the way they care for themselves, to how they communicate with others, the health issues they may suffer from, the state of their finances and so much more. Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. There is no exact science behind who may become addicted to drugs and alcohol, and who may not, simply that some are more vulnerable than others, but all people have the potential to suffer from the condition. Substance use disorders can also stem from a number of different substances separately, or in conjunctions–where individuals may suffer from two different types of abuse disorders at once, commonly referred to as a dual diagnosis or co-occurring use disorder.

Cocaine, otherwise, commonly known as crack or crack cocaine, is a highly addictive substance, classified as a Schedule II illicit substance. Schedule II substance, drugs, and/or chemicals of any kind, are defined as substances that have/retain a high potential for abuse, which can lead to physical and psychological dependence or addiction and can lead to the development of dangerous side effects, conditions, events or situations. Crack cocaine addiction today, in the year 2020, is still a serious problem, but the good news is that cocaine addictions and substance use disorders are treatable.

The Effects of Crack Cocaine

Cocaine was originally developed from the Coca Plant to be used as a medication, but the substance’s highly addictive properties quickly ruled out the drug for continued use in the medical world and community. But that did not stop different men and women across the world from continuing to develop the drug for recreational uses and practices, and distributing the substance across the U.S. Originally, cocaine was used as a type of topical anesthetic in surgeries. Today, crack can be injected, snorted, or smoked in an effort to stimulate the drugs producing an intense, fast acting euphoria and feelings of overall well-being. But what most people do not realize, or choose to overlook, is that crack’s production of euphoria may be immediate, but it is short-lived…meanwhile the drug’s more negative and long-lasting side effects are not. Some of the most common side effects associated with crack cocaine use include:

  • Short-Term Side Effects:
    • Enlarged pupils
    • Increased body temperature
    • Erratic behavior
    • Violent behavior
    • Increased alertness
    • Increased energy
    • Narrowed blood vessels
    • Increased heart rate
    • Heart rhythm irregularities/issues
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Short lasting euphoria
    • Panic attacks
    • Increased paranoia
    • Restlessness
    • Insomnia
    • Shortness of breath
    • Increased risk for stroke
    • Increased risk for heart attack
    • Increased risk of experiencing seizures
    • Psychosis
    • Burned nose, throat, lips, or tongue
    • Sweating
    • Increased risk of coma
    • Headaches
    • Nausea
    • Abdominal pain
  • Long-Term Side Effects:
    • Nosebleeds
    • Loss of sense of smell
    • Nasal damage
    • Trouble swallowing
    • Death of bowel tissue
    • Increased risk of infection
    • Respiratory problems
    • Risk of developing lung cancer
    • Lowered or weakened immune system
    • Poor nutrition / malnutrition
    • Poor blood flow
    • Decreased blood flow
    • Severe weight loss
    • Intense cravings for crack or cocaine use
    • Lung damage
    • Higher risk of contracting HIV
    • Higher risk of contracting Hepatitis
    • Higher risk of contracting other types of infection diseases
    • Inability to self-regulate
    • Difficulties at work, school, and home
    • Financial issues
    • Greater risk of cardiac toxicity
    • The development of withdrawal effects when the drug is stopped or not used in extended periods of time
    • Risk of premature birth (for women who use crack while pregnant)
    • Risk of low birth weight (for babies born to women who use crack while pregnant)
    • Deficits in attention and self-regulation in children who were exposed to crack while in the womb

And much, much more. Yet, still, individuals of all ages use crack repeatedly, resulting in millions of Americans being affected by the side effects of crack cocaine. Crack can come in many different forms, each of which can be a highly addictive and dangerous substance.

Some Crack Cocaine Fast Facts You and Your Loved Ones Should Be Aware Of

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive, illegal Schedule II substance, that millions of men, women, and even children use in the U.S. every day. There are many reasons as to why different people may use the drug; for some, they use it to fit in and make new friends/connections, others try it to do something crazy and different than their everyday normal, and still, others may use the substance to cope with past traumas. No matter what the reason is, cocaine is a dangerous substance that should never be used under any circumstance. Despite the drug’s fast-acting feelings of induced euphoria, the substance’s benefits of use quickly end and result in many more negative side effects, circumstances, and conditions. Some other crack cocaine fast facts you and your loved ones should be aware of include:

  • Crack cocaine has many different street names, including (but not limited to):
    • Beat
    • Candy
    • Sleet
    • Hail
    • Rock (s)
    • Crystal
    • Chemical
    • Cloud
    • Hard ball
    • Ice
    • Ice cube (s)
    • Coke
  • Cocaine has several methods of use, including:
    • Injecting
    • Snorting
    • Smoking
  • Crack is produced by dissolving powdered cocaine in a mixture of water and ammonia or water and baking soda and then boiled until it becomes a solid. Once it becomes solid, it is then broken into chunks (rocks) and sold.
  • Crack cocaine typically looks like translucent, white, or off-white rocks or crystals, of varying shapes and size, but can also be a white or off-white powder.
  • You can overdose on cocaine, and experience life-threatening circumstances if such an event were to occur.
  • Crack changes the way your brain operates physically and carries the potential to burn out your dopamine levels and neuroreceptors that help stimulate your feelings of happiness and pleasure, making it difficult for you to experience happiness or fulfillment without using the drug, and making recovery more difficult to work towards at times.

Crack Addiction and Substance Abuse Treatment / Recovery

Crack addictions are scary, potentially life-threatening disorders, that can be hard to overcome but at the end of the day, are very treatable. Drug and alcohol rehab centers across the nation exist to help clients of all ages, genders, sizes, and backgrounds, realize their relationship with crack and other drugs or alcohol is problematic, that it needs to change, and helps these individuals work towards recovery. Not every drug and alcohol rehab center works exactly the same, but most of them offer the same types of treatment services and therapeutic programs, including:

  • Medical detox services
  • Inpatient / residential rehab programs
  • Partial hospitalization programs
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Outpatient programs
  • Aftercare programs
  • Support groups
  • Medication-assisted treatments
  • Cognitive-behavioral treatments
  • Therapeutic services

If you or a loved one struggles with crack addiction or any other type of substance use disorder, there is hope. You can do the work and recover from any substance abuse disorder, including crack addiction. The journey may be hard, and it may not look like anyone else’s road to recovery, but the difficulties and struggles are well worth the rewards. You don’t want to have to live the rest of your life addicted to crack cocaine. Start your journey to recovery today, by calling us here at St. John’s Recovery Place (SJRP), 1-833-397-3422. Don’t wait for another second, start your recovery journey today, and learn about all the different benefits and programs available to you as you work towards achieving sobriety. We know you can do it, and we are here to cheer you on, every step of the way!

References

  • History. Cocaine. (2018, August 21). (2020, December 24).
  • GAO. United States General Account Office: Fact Sheet for the Chairman Select Committee on Narcotics Abuse and Control, House of Representatives. Drug Abuse. The Crack Cocaine Epidemic: Health Consequences and Treatment. (1991, January). (2020, December 24).
  • National Library of Medicine: National Center for Biotechnology Information. Pub Med. The History of Cocaine in Medicine and its Importance to the Discovery of the Different Forms of Anesthesia. (2007). (2020, December 24).
  • Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Epidemic. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information for You. Substance Use Disorder. (2020, December 22). (2020, December 24).
  • NIH: News in Health. Biology of Addiction: Drugs and Alcohol Can Hijack Your Brain. (2015, October). (2020, December 24).
  • Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information for You. Dual Diagnosis. (2020, November 2). (2020, December 24).
  • DEA: United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Drug Scheduling – Drug Schedules. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Cocaine. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Commonly Used Drugs Charts. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • Justice. What is Crack Cocaine? (2003). (2020, December 24).
  • IDHS: Illinois Department of Human Services. Facts You Should Know About Crack. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Cocaine. (Accessed 2020, December 24).
  • NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse: Advancing Addiction Science. Publications. Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition) Types of Treatment Programs. (2018, January). (2020, December 24).