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  • Crack cocaine is a stimulant drug that causes a rush of extreme happiness and energy. It’s made by cooking cocaine powder with baking soda. 

    Crack use often leads to addiction (also called substance use disorder). If your friend or family member struggles with this disease, you can help them overcome it. 

    How To Help Someone With Crack Addiction 

    Whether you’ve just discovered your loved one is addicted to crack or you’ve known for years, it’s normal to feel hopeless. However, you can help get them on the road to recovery by taking these steps

    Learn About Crack Addiction

    The more you know about crack cocaine addiction, the more help you can offer your loved one. 

    Crack cocaine causes excess amounts of dopamine to build up in your brain. Dopamine is a natural chemical that regulates reward, attention, motivation, movement, and memory.

    When you regularly use crack, your brain adjusts to the excess dopamine and starts craving more. You may then begin using crack more frequently and taking higher doses. This is called tolerance. Tolerance is one of the main signs of addiction

    The other main sign is physical dependence. When you’re physically dependent on crack, your body requires it to function normally. Without it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as:

    • fatigue
    • anxiety
    • depression
    • increased REM sleep
    • nightmares
    • insatiable hunger
    • tremors
    • headaches
    • stomach and muscle cramps

    Signs Of Crack Addiction

    If you’re not sure whether your loved one struggles with crack abuse or addiction, watch for these side effects:

    • periods of extreme happiness and energy
    • mood swings
    • irritability
    • restlessness
    • extreme tiredness
    • bloodshot eyes
    • dilated pupils
    • sudden decline in hygiene
    • tremors and twitches
    • fast heart rate
    • nausea
    • symptoms of psychosis, including paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations

    Show Compassion

    Some people try to shame and guilt their loved ones into giving up crack. However, crack addiction is a disease, not a moral failing. 

    Shame and guilt only make addiction worse. Your loved one may start feeling depressed, isolated, hopeless, and unworthy of care.

    That’s why it’s important to show compassion instead. If you feel frustrated, angry, or hurt by your loved one’s addiction, that’s normal. But keep in mind that they aren’t trying to hurt you. They’re simply suffering from a disease. 

    Try To Understand

    Try to understand why your loved one started using crack in the first place. Many people start using to deal with grief, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and other mental health concerns. 

    Talk to your loved one about their reasons for crack use while keeping an open mind, listening without judgment, and showing compassion. This can help them feel ready to open up and seek treatment.

    Don’t Enable

    Enabling means performing actions that support your loved one’s drug use. Common examples include:

    • giving your loved one money, which they could use for drugs
    • taking on responsibilities your loved one has neglected due to addiction, such as paying bills
    • saving them from legal troubles related to their addiction

    When you enable, you provide a safety net for your loved one. This safety net can prevent them from seeing the consequences of their addiction and seeking help. 

    Help Keep Your Loved One & Yourself Healthy

    People who struggle with drug addiction often suffer from poor physical and mental health. These health problems can make recovery even more difficult. Encourage your loved one to adopt healthy habits such as:

    • exercising regularly
    • eating healthy foods
    • getting enough sleep
    • meditating
    • journaling

    You should also try adopting these habits yourself. When you take care of yourself, you’re better equipped to help your loved one recover from addiction. 

    Help Your Loved One Find A Treatment Center

    Most people can’t recover from crack addiction without professional help. Encourage your loved one to attend a substance abuse and addiction treatment program, and help them find the right one.

    Your loved one may resist the idea of treatment. In that case, continue bringing up the subject regularly (while remaining calm and compassionate), and consider getting help from a therapist or interventionist. 

    These professionals can help you determine what to say to ensure your loved one gets the treatment they need.

    Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs

    At an addiction treatment facility, your loved one will receive recovery-focused services such as:

    Treatment programs are available on an inpatient basis (in which your loved one lives at the rehab center) or outpatient basis (in which your loved one regularly attends the rehab center while living at home). Your loved one’s doctor can help you determine which option is best. 

    To learn more about treatment options for crack cocaine addiction, please reach out to an Ark Behavioral Health specialist today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2022 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    National Institute on Drug Abuse - Cocaine DrugFacts
    National Institute on Drug Abuse - What helps people stay in treatment?
    United States Department of Justice - Crack Cocaine Fast Facts

    Medically Reviewed by
    Lauren Weinand, M.D.
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