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Crack Symptoms | Signs & Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Published on January 28, 2021
Signs & Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack is a freebase form of cocaine. It’s made by mixing powder cocaine with baking soda and heating it to create a smokable substance. Crack cocaine is highly addictive and can affect your physical, mental, and social wellbeing.

Physical Signs & Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine abuse comes with short-term and long-term side effects. Some physical symptoms of addiction appear right away, while others show up after months or years of drug abuse.

Short-Term Side Effects Of Crack Cocaine

As a stimulant drug, crack cocaine works similarly to an amphetamine like Adderall. It gives you a burst of energy and can make you feel euphoric. However, crack has a much quicker onset and a very short duration.

Use of crack cocaine may result in restlessness, hyperactivity, and extreme talkativeness. You might feel depressed and fatigued as you “come down” from its effects. If you use crack repeatedly in a short period, you’ll likely experience exhaustion afterwards.

Crack constricts your blood vessels, which raises your blood pressure and causes your breathing and heart rate to increase. Because of the drug’s effect on the central nervous system, crack abuse can lead to a heart attack and other heart problems.

Crack Cocaine Long-Term Effects

Over time, your body will start to show the long-term effects of cocaine abuse and addiction. 

People who are addicted to crack often suffer from malnutrition due to a loss of appetite. This can result in severe weight loss and a weak immune system, which makes other health problems more likely to occur.

Crack cocaine long-term effects may include:

  • asthma (caused or worsened by smoking crack)
  • other respiratory issues, like pneumonia or a hacking cough
  • tooth decay (from dehydration and poor dental hygiene)
  • “jitters” (uncontrolled body movements)
  • “coke bugs” (the feeling of bugs under the skin, which can cause scabs from scratching)

While most people abuse crack cocaine by smoking it, some crush it and snort it (called “insufflation”), or inject it. 

Smoking crack can cause burns on your lips and fingers from a hot pipe, as well as severe chest pain and a condition called “crack lung.” Snorting crack leads to nosebleeds and erosion of nasal tissue. Injecting crack can cause collapsed veins and bacterial infections.

Crack Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia may also indicate a crack cocaine addiction. Paraphernalia includes anything used to smoke, snort, or inject crack.

Crack paraphernalia depends on the mode of intake:

  • Smoking: glass pipe, small metal screen, foil, straw
  • Snorting: rolled paper, hollow pen, straw, razor
  • Injecting: syringes, lemon juice or vinegar (for dissolving crack)

Mental Signs & Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Smoking crack gives you an immediate and intense high that can lead you to become addicted the first time you use it. 

Crack cocaine affects the brain’s reward system by increasing the presence of dopamine, a neurotransmitter (chemical messenger). As the drug wears off, dopamine levels drop quickly, which may make you feel depressed and can cause intense cravings.

Mental Effects Of Crack

If you’re addicted to crack, it can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing. Mental effects of crack can include:

  • paranoia
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • psychosis

A person who’s addicted may have withdrawal symptoms when they’re not using crack, even between uses. Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms may be:

  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • depression
  • slower brain function

Withdrawal symptoms make it hard to stop using crack, even if you want to.

Social-Emotional Signs & Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine addiction can affect more than someone’s physical and mental health. It can damage relationships and change the way they live their life. 

Secretive behavior may be a sign of addiction. If a loved one suddenly acts differently, spending time alone or with a different group of friends, it could be a red flag. 

If someone is addicted to crack cocaine, they might have financial problems from buying crack or losing their job because of crack abuse. These issues can lead to borrowing, stealing, or lying to get more money. 

Addiction is marked by a loss of control over drug use, so no matter how hard someone tries to quit or cut back, they’re unable to. If that’s the case, they need help to overcome addiction.

Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Crack cocaine addiction treatment may begin with detox, which is the process of removing drugs from your system. The mental withdrawal and cravings that accompany crack detox make it hard to do alone. Some addiction treatment facilities provide support during this difficult time.

After detox, you may enter an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, depending on the severity of addiction and your unique needs. 

Treatment is based in behavioral therapy that deals with the root of substance abuse. A crack cocaine rehab program may help you live a healthier life through support groups, exercise, and life skills training.

At Ark Behavioral Health, we work with you to ensure you receive the best care for your situation. Learn more about our cocaine addiction treatment programs by speaking with a specialist today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Drug Enforcement Administration - COCAINE
National Institute of Health - Commonly Abused Drugs Charts: Cocaine
Victoria State Government - Teeth and drug use

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