Crack Addiction: Crack Cocaine Abuse & Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 12, 2022

Crack is a highly addictive and dangerous illicit drug derived from cocaine. Crack drug use has many side effects and long-term health risks. Drug addiction treatment can help when crack abuse turns into addiction.

Crack Cocaine Addiction And Treatment Options

Crack cocaine is an addictive and dangerous form of cocaine. The drug is made by taking powdered cocaine and processing it further to produce crack.

Crack is notorious for being a particularly addictive drug. It is used mostly by smoking and can lead to major negative consequences, especially if it is abused regularly.

Once crack addiction sets in, visiting an addiction treatment facility is the best option.

Substance abuse treatment centers are equipped to handle the unique physical and mental health challenges posed by addiction.

What Crack Cocaine Looks Like

Crack takes the appearance of small rocks or crystals. These rocks usually have a milky or slightly opaque coloring and may be shades of white, yellow, or light brown.

Crack is commonly sold by the gram in small glass vials. It may not have any specific odor.

Learn more about how to identify crack cocaine.

How Crack Cocaine Differs From Powder Cocaine

All forms of cocaine, including crack and powder cocaine, are processed from the leaves of the coca plant, a shrub grown in South America.

Crack cocaine is a more processed version of powder cocaine. To make crack, drug dealers add powder cocaine to baking soda and water and cook the mixture until a rock-like solid forms.

The main difference is that crack cocaine can be smoked, while powder cocaine cannot be smoked and is usually snorted instead.

Methods Of Crack Cocaine Abuse

There are multiple methods of using crack cocaine. Among them, smoking the drug is by far the most common.

Smoking Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is usually smoked by placing the small rocks in a glass or metal pipe and heating the pipe until the drug begins to smoke and vaporize.

When this vapor and smoke is inhaled, the drug’s effects are felt almost instantaneously.

Shooting Crack Cocaine

Many people who use crack cocaine inject the drug. Crack can be injected by first melting it down, then drawing the liquid in with a syringe and needle before injecting it.

Injecting crack leads to the most intense and fastest-hitting “high”. Injection of crack also comes with its own set of health risks.

Read about shooting crack cocaine.

Snorting Crack Cocaine

Although powder cocaine is commonly snorted, snorting crack is quite uncommon. Crack is made to be smoked or injected. Snorting the drug is unsafe and generally quite unpleasant.

Learn about the dangers of snorting crack cocaine.

Side Effects Of Crack Cocaine Use

People abuse crack because the drug produces an intense euphoric “rush”. But crack use also has many side effects that can include uncomfortable and dangerous symptoms.

Side effects of using crack include:

  • dilated pupils
  • mood swings
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • decreased appetite
  • intense cravings and “crash” once the high subsides
  • increased body temperature

Signs Of A Crack Cocaine Addiction

If you are concerned that a loved one or family member could be using crack, it helps to know what to look out for.

People who use crack regularly tend to show some signs of their drug abuse.

Common signs of crack addiction include:

  • dilated pupils
  • restlessness
  • itching
  • fast breathing
  • irresponsibility, financial problems, not showing up for work and other commitments
  • psychosis
  • mood swings
  • burns, sores, and cracks on fingers or lips (from hot crack pipes)

Does Crack Cocaine Lead To Withdrawal?

People addicted to crack cocaine who suddenly stop using the drug or cut back on their use are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms.

Cocaine withdrawal is not commonly life-threatening and does not include critical symptoms like high blood pressure which can occur during opioid withdrawal.

Symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal may include:

  • nightmares
  • anxiety
  • trouble concentrating
  • irritability
  • intense cravings for crack
  • depression
  • lack of motivation
  • mood swings

Risks Of Crack Cocaine Abuse

Abusing crack cocaine has many long-term health risks. This dangerous stimulant drug is notoriously addictive and can be habit-forming even after the first time using it.

Risks of crack cocaine abuse include:

  • insomnia
  • dental problems (“crack teeth”)
  • weight loss
  • sexual dysfunction in men and infertility in men and women
  • organ failure
  • lung damage
  • heart and circulation problems, including high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and damaged blood vessels
  • seizures
  • addiction
  • crack overdose

Symptoms Of Crack Cocaine Overdose

Cocaine overdose can happen if someone takes too much of the drug. Excessive use of crack cocaine can lead to overdose.

Overdose becomes more likely as a person who is addicted to crack builds a high tolerance to the drug’s effects.

Early symptoms of a crack overdose may include agitation, high blood pressure, high body temperature, and hallucinations.

Crack cocaine overdose can be fatal. Symptoms like heart attacks, stroke, seizures, and trouble breathing can be part of an overdose.

Treatment Programs For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine treatment programs will address the underlying causes of drug abuse, as well as any mental and physical health problems that have arisen during addiction.

Common elements of inpatient treatment programs for crack addiction include support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, and healthcare for co-occurring disorders.

Crack addiction treatment usually starts with an inpatient detox program, before moving on to inpatient treatment and finally into outpatient care.

Crack Cocaine FAQs

Find answers below to commonly asked questions regarding crack cocaine use.

People who use crack cocaine regularly are likely to develop a tolerance to the drug.

An increased tolerance to crack means a person will have to use more of the drug to feel the same effects as they used to.

Everyone’s body processes crack cocaine at a different rate. People who are younger and healthier will usually remove toxins from their bodies faster than older or unhealthy people.

Crack cocaine detection times vary based on a number of factors, including the type of test being used.

General crack cocaine detection times are:

  • hair follicles: up to 90 days
  • urine: up to 4 days
  • blood/saliva: up to 24 hrs

Crack prices vary depending on location and the current market for the drug.

Recent reports suggest that crack costs about $60-$100 per gram. Most people buy one gram of crack at a time.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Services

If you or someone you love is addicted to crack cocaine and/or another substance, the time to act is now.

Contact us today to learn where you can find the best addiction treatment providers for crack cocaine abuse.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on August 12, 2022
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