The mere mention of crack cocaine, also known simply as ‘crack’, conjures up images of armies of addicts lining the streets of city slums trying to figure out a way to get their next fix. And while this picture may not necessarily be accurate now, it is not far from the reality experienced at the height of the crack epidemic in the late 1990s and early 2000s. History clearly shows that the development of crack as an alternative to powdered cocaine has had a dramatic and permanent effect on the illegal drug landscape.
Prior to the 1980s, crack did not exist as a recreational drug. It was created in response to excess supply and dwindling prices for powdered cocaine in the US and elsewhere. Drug dealers figured out they could produce a rock form of the drug that would generate higher revenues through increased addiction and the ability to sell at lower volumes to greater numbers of people.
Since the height of the epidemic here in the UK (between 2000 and 2006), we have made great strides in reducing crack use. However, there are still far too many people using this drug and becoming addicted. If you are one of them, we want to help you. Addiction Helper offers a 24-hour helpline along with a list of free services that can get you started on the road to recovery.
The Basics of Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine is a crystallised form of a highly addictive drug that has been around for more than a century. Manufactured as rocks that are heated and smoked, crack is more pure than its powdered relative because it is not neutralised or diluted by any other substance. Crack users who prefer the crystallised drug over powder routinely comment about how the high is so much more intense.
Crack is highly addictive for two reasons. First, the drug travels more quickly to the brain through the inhalation of smoke as compared to injection or inhalation of powder. This means that the effect of the drug is almost instantaneous. The maximum amount of the drug makes it to the brain rather than being diluted in the bloodstream or absorbed by the respiratory system.
Second, the effects of crack tend to last just 5 to 10 minutes as opposed to up to 30 minutes using other forms of cocaine. Regular users are likely to take more hits in a shorter amount of time in order to sustain the high. This leads to more rapid tolerance and eventual addiction.
Any psychoactive substance has the potential to create addiction. This potential is exacerbated with crack cocaine because of the purity of the drug and how it is used. If you are currently using crack yourself, the best advice anyone can give you is to stop before you become an addict. If you are concerned that you are already addicted, you need to call us right away so that we can help you assess your situation.
Signs of Crack Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction is easily recognisable due to a long list of signs and symptoms that accompany the use of the drug. Even users who tend to restrict their use to party settings have a hard time disguising signs of addiction. Those signs can be categorised according to physical symptoms, psychological symptoms and behavioural signs.
The physical and psychological symptoms of crack addiction include:
- routine coughing fits
- frequent respiratory distress and infections
- excessive perspiration
- frequently dilated pupils
- mood swings, including irritability
- frequent insomnia
- anxiety and/or depression
- psychosis, including paranoia and hallucinations.
In terms of behavioural signs, look for the following:
- A tendency to disappear for long periods of time
- A tendency to lock oneself away in a bedroom or office
- Changes in social circles (abandoning long-time friends for friends that use drugs)
- An unnatural fixation on having to locate new supplies of crack
- An unwillingness to engage in social discourse if drugs are not included.
It must be understood that addiction to cocaine of any sort is dangerous; it is especially dangerous where crack is concerned. Crack has devastating effects on the body and mind because of its concentrated power. Overdose is a very real risk for most users due to how highly sensitive the body becomes to the drug over time. The longer a person uses crack, the lower the volume needed to create an overdose situation.
Long-term use of crack can lead to stroke, cardiac arrest, and even death. It can also create permanent psychosis that will linger even after successful treatment is sought. In simple terms, do not fool with this drug. If you are using it, call us right away to get help.
Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction
Overcoming a crack addiction begins with medically supervised detox. Under the care of trained doctors and nurses, individuals are led through the withdrawal process using modern medical procedures. Following withdrawal, recovering addicts participate in a range of rehab treatments that may include counselling and therapy. These treatments are designed to equip the patient to live a life free of drugs after rehabilitation.
One example of rehabilitative therapy is something known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This goal-oriented therapy helps the patient to understand what triggers his or her addictive behaviour, followed by developing coping and avoidance strategies that can be used to prevent future relapse. CBT has proven very effective for treating crack addiction.
We tend to recommend residential treatment in a private clinic due to the seriousness of crack addiction. However, other alternatives are available if a residential programme is out of the question. The key for you is to take the first step to finding out more. We invite you to contact our free 24-hour helpline for that purpose.
When you call, one of our trained counsellors will offer you a free assessment of your situation. You will then be given a list of appropriate treatments along with a choice of whether you want to be treated or not. We hope you will make a positive choice so that you can go on to live a life free of crack addiction.