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What Does it Mean to Be “On Crack?”

To be “on crack” is a slang term used to describe someone who is using crack cocaine. People on crack are typically crack addicts, and while there is a stereotype that crack is a rarely used drug, crack users are more common and diverse than many expect. According to the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 8.6 million Americans aged 12 and older reported having used crack in 2006.

Furthermore, 71% of all cocaine admissions to treatment in 2006 were for people on crack cocaine. And while crack is a derivative of cocaine, it is even more dangerous and has become a popular street drug, with devastating consequences.

Crack Effects and Abuse

Crack found in a rock formation is generally off-white, tan, or light brown due to its lack of purity and the agents added in the cooking process. Crack purchased on the street is rarely just a mix of cocaine, baking soda, and water. Instead, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, caffeine, over-the-counter drugs, arsenic, Ritalin, sugar, talc, and cleaning chemicals can be added to the mix to increase the high and decrease the amount of expensive cocaine in the mixture.

Users typically smoke crack in a pipe, and unlike the pipes used for tobacco and marijuana, these pipes are rarely found commercially. Crack pipes are often improvised. One commonly improvised crack pipe comes from the “Rose in a Glass” figurines, in which a small silk rose is sold in a thin glass tube – often in dollar stores or gas stations.

The tube is sometimes used as a crack pipe, with a bit of dish sponge or Brillo pad used as a filter. This by itself is dangerous since the thin glass often causes serious burning of the hands and lips. Furthermore, the euphoria produced by crack is different than that of cocaine. Those who want a fast, intense high are attracted to crack.

Smoking Crack

The effects of smoking crack take hold in under a minute, peaking in about three to five minutes and lasting 30-60 minutes. However, since the most intense phase of the high is gone in less than ten minutes, many people on crack feel that they must continually smoke the drug to experience the sensation. When smoked, crack produces feelings of happiness, heightened energy, and alertness.

However, there are dangerous physical consequences despite the “high” sensations one feels when using the drug. Short-term health consequences of smoking crack include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Strange or violent behavior
  • Hallucinations, such as believing there are bugs on your skin
  • Anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Convulsions
  • Overdose

And even after the first attempt at smoking crack, users typically experience dramatically increased heart rate and muscle spasms, and, at times, feelings of anger. Crack also increases the likelihood of a heart attack, a stroke, fatal breathing issues, convulsions, and self-harm, even if only used once. Immediately following the high, people who smoke crack will experience a devastating crash, resulting in feelings of extreme depression, anxiety, and intense cravings for more of the drug.

Dangers of Long-Term Abuse

The dangerous consequences of using this drug are intensified because crack may be mixed with additional toxic chemicals that can be even more deadly than the cocaine from which it was derived. Continued, long-term crack usage results in a variety of serious, possibly fatal health consequences, including:

  • Permanent brain damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Chest pains
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Heart attack
  • Malnutrition and anemia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Convulsions
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Abscesses
  • Hallucinations
  • Infertility
  • Disorientation

Also, the sharing of pipes and the condition under which the drugs are made, people who smoke crack are likely to develop immune system issues and chronic sickness, especially because of the chemicals they are inhaling.

Mental Illness and Crack

One of the most dangerous mental health issues faced by people who smoke crack is the almost immediate nature of the addiction, which rapidly escalates from an anxious desire for more drugs to a complete loss of control. Many crack users report feeling so desperate for more of the drug that they engaged in dangerous and illegal behavior, such as theft. Furthermore, the low experienced by users after the drug begins to leave the system is intense.

Symptoms of withdrawal for people who smoke crack include:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Severe depression
  • Agitation
  • Inability to experience joy
  • Violence and hostility
  • Nightmares
  • Intense discomfort
  • Fatigue

Once addiction has set in, it can become nearly impossible to feel normal without the drug. This feeling can be so extreme that crack addicts have committed suicide because the withdrawal experience was physically and emotionally painful.

Cognitive Impairments and Chemical Imbalances

In addition to the mental health consequences of addiction, the cognitive impairments and chemical imbalances created by smoking crack can be long-lasting. Paranoia, hallucinations, mood swings, and depression can torment those who struggle to break free from their crack cocaine addiction.

As with other drugs, it’s essential to remember there are pre-existing mental health conditions that ultimately trigger crack usage in some cases. Feelings of depression, despair, hopelessness, attraction to high-risk activities, self-esteem issues, self-sabotage, bipolar disorder, and unresolved family issues can drive individuals to use crack cocaine. To provide those addicted to crack the best chance of lasting recovery, people who smoke crack must be offered medical and therapeutic options to address all physical and mental health issues.

Crack Treatment

Recovering from a crack cocaine addiction can be exhausting and painful — physically and emotionally. However, it is worth the struggle, and many resources can help you toward the path of recovery. There are materials, programs, and support groups that specialize in assisting those struggling with crack cocaine addiction. Identifying these resources is beneficial because they provide advice and encouragement specific to the abuse of crack cocaine.

There is currently no FDA approved drug to assist with ending addiction to crack cocaine. With that in mind, the first step in the recovery process must be a full detox.

Crack Withdrawal

Since the withdrawal process of crack cocaine can be agonizing, it is not advised to attempt to quit using crack without medical supervision. Individuals who go through severe withdrawal have committed serious self-harm and even committed suicide because of the intensity of the experience.

However, medically-assisted withdrawal can help by mitigating the most painful symptoms, ensuring adequate hydration and nutrition, and having medical experts onsite should a serious medical issue, such as stroke, occur. These experts will also assist with any extreme depression that follows withdrawal, ensuring that no self-harm occurs.

The worst part of the withdrawal should be over in a week, though additional assistance with withdrawal systems may be needed in the following weeks, as well. You may be prescribed Buspirone, an anti-anxiety medication, to help with restlessness in the aftermath of drug detoxification.

Outpatient Treatment Options

While there are outpatient treatment options available, social factors are often a factor in crack addiction. People who smoke crack have often established relationships with others who share the addiction.

Therefore, an inpatient treatment center is likely the best option to ensure a full recovery and an increased chance for long-term sobriety. Treatment centers will provide a serene environment, with treatment plans that consist of counseling, group therapy, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, 12-step programs, and other resources to assist with your recovery.

Crack Cocaine Rehab at Resurgence Behavioral Health

Overcoming your crack cocaine addiction will be difficult, but you deserve the freedom of recovery. Resurgence Behavioral Health is here for you. Our relaxing, state-of-the-art facilities and dedicated team will help you break the cycle of addiction.

Resurgence Behavioral Health provides experienced, understanding addiction specialists, medical professionals, certified counselors, and licensed therapists. Our lovely and convenient locations have everything you need to minimize distractions and focus on your wellness journey. We know that no two addiction experiences are the same.

This is why Resurgence Behavioral Health offers social and medical drug detoxification, residential, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs, counseling, and other customized resources to empower you on your path to recovery.

Addiction Treatment that
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Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

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