What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine, or “crack,” is a crystallized form of the highly addictive stimulant drug, cocaine. This form of cocaine is made by boiling the base drug with water and baking soda, which produces solid crystals or “rocks” that may vary in color; usually white to pale rose or yellow.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning that, while certain forms (i.e. cocaine hydrochloride) have limited accepted medical uses, its high risk for abuse has made recreational consumption of this drug illegal and made crack addiction quite common.

Cocaine has very limited use in medical practices and is typically only used for situations such as an anesthetic during surgery. All cocaine use outside of the limited practices is illegal.

Crack, also known as freebase cocaine, is a form of cocaine that is made into small white rocks to then be, typically, smoked for ingestion. Smoking crack cocaine leads to a more intense and immediate high.

Crack addiction can be one of the hardest difficulties to overcome, especially alone. Crack addiction treatment can help individuals struggling with this highly addictive drug into lasting recovery.

Keep reading to find out what forms of treatment are most effective for those using crack cocaine regularly, and how to get help now!

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How Addictive is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is one of the most addictive illegal drugs that are commonly abused today. For some people, even just one incident of crack cocaine use can leave them addicted. This is because of how crack affects the brain.

Like other drugs, crack affects how the brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which is responsible for producing feelings of happiness and relaxation. Crack gives users an instant high, as it immediately releases a flood of dopamine into the brain, producing an intense high.

As your brain gets hooked on these euphoric feelings, it will begin to crave this substance more and more. This signals a person’s development of physical dependence on crack. As their cocaine use continues, it will not take long before they develop a full-blown crack addiction.

What are the Methods of Crack Abuse?

Methods of Crack Drug Abuse

When it comes to crack use, the primary method of consumption for this form of cocaine is smoking it. To smoke crack, these cocaine crystals are heated up, most commonly by placing them on a spoon and holding a lighter underneath it.

This process will produce a vapor that can then be smoked out of some sort of container. Most crack users will smoke this drug out of a glass pipe, although an empty soda can or another similar tool can also be used.

This boiling process will often produce a crackling or popping sound; hence, earning this particular drug the name “crack” cocaine. Smoking crack is the primary method of its consumption due to its production of a much faster and more intense high than other methods might.

However, crack cocaine will only produce relatively short-lived effects, which will generally wear off as soon as even just fifteen minutes after its administration. This leads many crack users to continue using the drug, often in larger and more frequent doses than before.

Along with these habits of substance abuse posing the risk of forming a crack addiction, they also increase the individual’s chances of experiencing negative side effects from this drug. These, of which, include a potentially-fatal overdose.

The Hidden Risks of Crack Use

The way in which crack is processed makes it even more potent than regular cocaine already is. Furthermore, this process is one that can vary, further affecting its potency through the production of formulations that may be much stronger than others.

This drug may also sometimes be contaminated with other substances – such as heroin -, either accidentally or intentionally, due to its unregulated manufacturing. This can be extremely dangerous for crack users who are unknowingly taking multiple drugs in unmeasured doses.

This is because it not only creates the risk of accidentally forming an additional drug addiction without even knowing they are doing so, but further increases their likelihood of experiencing a fatal drug overdose.

Who is at Risk of Developing a Crack Addiction?

It is important to understand that anyone is capable of forming a substance addiction, regardless of their personal or social background. With that being said, however, there are several risk factors that may play a role in the development of crack addiction, including:

 

  • A personal or family history of substance abuse
  • Unstable or stressful work, home, or school environment
  • Negative social influences or surroundings

 

In addition to the factors listed above, one of the biggest contributors to a person’s involvement in drug or alcohol abuse is if they have any underlying mental health disorders that have gone undiagnosed, or have been left untreated.

The Mental Illness And Drug Abuse Connection

Mental Illness And Drug Abuse

Mental health is a major part of substance abuse. Many individuals struggling with mental disorders may abuse illicit or prescription substances as a way to self-medicate and cope with their experiences.

Mental disorders influence the mental state of an individual and can lead to many unwanted experiences including:

 

  • Chronic sadness
  • Confusion or difficulty concentrating
  • Chronic fears
  • Difficulties sleeping or insomnia
  • Dissociation
  • Inconsistent eating schedule
  • Changes in libido
  • Substance misuse or abuse

 

Many individuals can struggle with properly controlling their substance use. Some individuals face an inability to control substance use. Both of these conditions could be an individual struggling with a substance use disorder.

A substance use disorder is a type of mental disorder that can cause an individual to struggle with controlling their substance use. An individual with a substance use disorder is half as likely to have co-occurring mental disorders.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), A co-occurring disorder is defined as having a secondary or other mental disorder aside from the substance use disorder.

It is important for an individual to be aware of their mental health, especially those who are using drugs. Some of the risk factors that can lead to addiction include:

 

  • Substance use disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Environmental factors
    •  Trauma
    •  Substance abuse during child growth
  • Passed down genes
  • Undiagnosed mental disorders

 

Cocaine use disorders are specified substance use disorders in which individuals struggle with inhibiting cocaine use. Crack addiction is an extreme form of cocaine use disorder and is immensely difficult to manage without crack cocaine treatment.

Individuals with undiagnosed mental disorders can lead to substance use as a way of self-medicating and coping. This uncontrolled and unstable use of illicit drugs can lead to drug abuse and in many situations, addiction.

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What Are The Dangers Of Drug Addiction?

Addiction is considered to be a complex disease in which individuals are unable to stop drug-seeking behaviors no matter the consequences they may face. Addiction changes the proper processing of how the brain functions.

Drug addiction can lead to the deterioration of an individual’s life. This decline can be seen in the physical health of their body or their mind. It also places large pressures upon their social relationships such as work or home life.

Is Crack Cocaine Addictive?

Yes, crack cocaine is a highly addictive substance. Similar to methamphetamine, cocaine stops the neurotransmitter dopamine from being reabsorbed. This prohibiting effect within the brain’s reward center reinforces substance use.

Crack cocaine is the most addictive form of cocaine as it is smoked and immediately takes effect in the body. The high from crack may also contribute to it being the most addictive form. As crack cocaine doesn’t last as long as powdered cocaine, an individual faces intense cravings for crack much sooner.

Crack cocaine rehab centers can lead an individual to recover from a crack addiction. Substance abuse treatment can best support individuals struggling with crack abuse and lead them to a desired and stabler lifestyle.

What are the Side Effects of Crack Cocaine?

Crack Addiction

The severity of the effects of using cocaine depends on a variety of factors such as the amount used, the method of consumption, the length of time used, how frequently it was used, the body of the user, the age of the user, etc.

In continued use of cocaine, the body becomes used to the substance and builds a tolerance towards it. This causes individuals to continue to increase the amount of cocaine ingested in order to feel the same or a slightly increased high.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine can cause a large number of undesirable side effects to arise for an individual. While some may be manageable, many have negative effects on an individual’s health and may limit them in their daily experiences.

Many of the health effects and physical symptoms place an individual at an increased risk of life-threatening situations such as a heart attack. Some of cocaine’s effects on an individual include:

 

  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Tremors and muscle twitches
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Chest pain
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding within the brain)

 

What are the Short-Term Effects of Crack Use?

Although each method of ingestion has its own specific physical and psychological defects, the effects of all cocaine drug use include:

 

  • Euphoria
  • Mental alertness
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia

 

Long Term Effects for Crack Users

As crack users will typically smoke as a method of ingestion, the direct effects of this drug impact the breathing functions of an individual. Smoking puts the user’s lungs at risk and causes things like coughing, asthma, or increasing the risk of lung disease.

Extended or regular use of cocaine can lead to many unwanted effects arising within an individual. The health effects of cocaine use cover many of the long-term effects however, some of the other long-term effects include:

 

  • Cognitive dysfunction
    •  Difficulty maintaining attention
    •  A struggling memory
    •  Improper judgment in decision making
  • High risk of relapse
  • Increased risk of developing movement disorders
  • Psychosis

 

Does Crack Cocaine Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?


Withdrawal symptoms are one of the main reasons individuals struggle with recovery and relapse. Substance abuse can lead to addiction and build a physical or psychological dependence upon the substance.

Crack cocaine is often used through a binge and crash method. Binging crack involves ingesting crack until either there is none left or a user cannot ingest anymore. The crash part comes from the body’s withdrawal after there is nothing left to sustain the effects.

Many of the psychological symptoms such as severe depression can also worsen during withdrawals. The withdrawal symptoms of crack cocaine abuse include:

 

  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings

 

Is It Possible To Overdose On Crack?

Yes, it is possible to overdose on cocaine. A cocaine overdose can lead to dangerous side effects and even life-threatening situations. A crack addiction puts an individual at an increased risk of overdose.

A crack overdose occurs when taking in too much crack or even when combining other substances alongside cocaine. The combining of other substances can lead to poisoning within the body and body malfunctions.

Due to crack cocaine’s extreme potency and unpredictable manufacturing process, there is always a very real risk of overdose when abusing this drug. This risk is even greater when mixing crack with other forms of substance use, particularly alcohol or other stimulants.

This form of a drug overdose can quickly become fatal if not addressed properly or quickly enough. Because of this, knowing the signs of a crack cocaine overdose can be life-saving.

Crack Overdose Symptoms

There are several warning signs that can be used to determine if you or a loved one is suffering from a crack overdose. These may include:

 

  • Extreme anxiety or agitation
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Excessive sweating or clamminess
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Trouble breathing

 

If you or someone else is displaying any of these symptoms after having recently used crack cocaine, seek emergency medical assistance immediately. These symptoms can quickly become fatal, but fast professional medical intervention can prevent this outcome.

Recognizing the Signs of Crack Cocaine Addiction

A woman with lighter held to spoon shows the need for crack addiction treatment

While many people who are addicted to drugs can be good at hiding their problems, someone who is addicted to crack will have a much harder time remaining secretive about their illicit recreational activities.

Crack’s instant high lasts for just five to fifteen minutes, meaning that people who are addicted to this substance use will constantly obsess over when their next “hit” will be. In fact, it can become nearly impossible for them to focus on anything else.

In addition to this, there are several other signs that someone can look out for when trying to determine if someone is addicted to crack, including:

 

  • Finding traces of the drug or evidence of its use, such as the presence of crack paraphernalia (i.e. glass pipes and bottles, soda cans, etc.), around their environment.
  • Displaying sudden bursts of energy, often characterized by rapid speaking, erratic or aggressive behavior, and anxiety; these energetic episodes will typically be followed by equally intense crash periods.
  • Regularly experiencing fatigue or having a sudden change in sleeping habits, characterized by often appearing extremely tired and lethargic, and/or sleeping for long periods of time.
  • Experiencing drastic changes in appetite, usually recognized through either frequently and rapidly eating large amounts of food, or having no appetite at all, potentially leads to rapid and concerning weight loss.
  • Rapidly developing oral health issues, such as gum and tooth decay, without any other obvious cause for these dental issues.

 

Along with these signs, one of the most obvious indicators that you or a loved one may be struggling with a crack addiction is the development of withdrawal symptoms when attempting to reduce or stop crack use.

How Is A Cocaine Addiction Treated?

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

There are many different treatments for a crack cocaine addiction however, an individual struggling with a crack addiction is likely to be using other substances as well as crack.

Despite the fact that there isn’t a medication to help the body with crack, when combining multiple substances, medications may be used to help support the body’s recovery.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the combination of pharmacological treatment and behavioral treatment provides for the best recovery in relapse prevention and leading a healthy life.

Creating a stable and solid structure for recovering individuals provides them with the foundation to rebuild their lives. This type of structure is essential in addiction treatment and helps with learning beneficial behaviors to take the place of destructive ones.

Removing drugs or substances from the body is another necessity in working towards recovery. This form of treatment is seen as a medical detox or drug detox.

The struggle of recovery is an arduous journey and maintaining abstinence from substance use can be difficult even after recovery. Detoxification from substances is only one step towards recovery but an individual continues to struggle through abstinence retention.

Medical Detox

Medically supervised detox is utilized in addiction and substance abuse treatment to allow a body to live without the substance. This drug detoxification process is one of the first steps in the recovery process.

While allowing the body to recover from substance abuse, an individual will face difficult withdrawals that can drive them toward relapse. A medical detox allows for an individual to have medical supervision during withdrawals and to be assisted by a medical professional.

This detox is an inpatient program that requires an individual to live on-site at a treatment facility. This inpatient rehab removes an individual from their environment and better suits their recovery.

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Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient programs allow individuals to leave their environment and live on-site at drug rehab centers. This treatment program can provide relief for individuals suffering through their recovery with constant ready care.

As many individuals struggling with addiction may have an underlying mental condition, inpatient treatment centers typically have mental health professionals available to assist clients through treatment.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs are less as intensive as inpatient care. Some individuals may find this type of treatment to be more beneficial for their lifestyle. This can allow individuals to continue activities, such as working, through their recovery.

Support groups such as alcoholics anonymous or cocaine anonymous make up a core component of this treatment. Support groups provide a safe and comfortable space for individuals struggling through recovery to communicate socially.

As this treatment is less intensive, it is also less expensive when compared to inpatient methods and allows for individuals struggling financially to receive the help they may need. It is important to have treatment options for those that wish to seek treatment or help.

Crack Addiction Pharmacological Treatments

Cocaine Vaccine

Pharmacological treatments focus on the use of medication as a method of treating the symptoms and withdrawal of certain substances. Not all treatments undergo pharmacological treatment as there isn’t a medication to help with recovery.

Opioids, alcohol, and tobacco are some of the other drugs that take pharmacological medication as a method of treatment. This form of treatment allows for these individuals to avoid substance use while maintaining proper bodily functions.

Cocaine addiction treatment does not have an approved medication for addiction treatment. The crack cocaine treatment process typically follows behavioral therapies and skill training such as relapse prevention.

Although there aren’t medications approved for cocaine addiction treatment, some medications that are used to treat addiction to other substances have shown positive effects on some individuals.

The Potential for a Cocaine Vaccine

Despite the fact that cocaine addiction treatment does not currently have an approved medication, a vaccine for cocaine use is being developed to properly help with crack abuse and protect the health of individuals.

Substance abuse research has led to the development and processing of a cocaine vaccine. This provides more opportunities for struggling individuals to better fight against and recover from crack abuse.

A cocaine vaccine is being developed to help treat cocaine addiction. The main function of this vaccine as treatment is to provide the immune system with cocaine-specific antibodies that attach to cocaine and protect the brain.

This allows the central nervous system to take in significantly reduced amounts of cocaine. Cocaine would normally continue to deteriorate the cognitive functions, memory, and health of an individual however, providing a vaccine allows for the body to fight against the invading drug.

Behavioral Treatments for Crack Addiction

Behavioral Therapy

Behavior therapy is the main form of treatment that individuals undergo through crack addiction treatment. After detoxification from cocaine, an individual is still left with difficulties in the behaviors learned during substance use.

In behavior therapy, individuals are able to break negative or destructive behaviors and incorporate positive and constructive behaviors into their lifestyles. Some of the behaviors or skills that are learned include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy was originally used to treat alcohol use and is now adapted to treat cocaine addiction and other substance addictions. This is an effective treatment in providing individuals with a positive mental awareness of problematic behaviors.

A core part of this therapy is to provide individuals with the ability to self-regulate and manage their struggles. This can be seen through techniques and strategies including:

 

  • Self-monitoring to recognize negative behaviors or cravings early
  • Understanding the pros and cons of chronic substance use
  • Creating healthy methods of coping with cravings

 

This form of therapy is used in crack cocaine addiction treatment as it allows individuals to take control back in their lives and rebuild their lives.

Contingency Management Interventions/Motivational Incentive

Contingency management is a form of treatment that provides individuals with drug-free rewards for abstinence or other positive behaviors. The purpose of this treatment is to reinforce drug-free behaviors in a material way.

As addiction alters the brain’s reward center and reinforces drug-taking behaviors, rewarding individuals with material items for abstinence from substance use allows individuals to better focus on and maintain abstinence.

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Community Reinforcement Approach Plus Vouchers

A man shows thumbs up and thumbs down to show community reinforcement for crack addiction

A community reinforcement approach is a form of intensive outpatient therapy. Intensive outpatient treatment is similar to the intensity of inpatient care aside from living onsite at a treatment center.

This treatment is 24 weeks in length and focuses on making a drug-free way of life more appealing than a substance abuse way of life. Individuals receive focused counseling sessions once or twice a week which include:

 

  • Improvement of personal relationships
  • Substance use prevention skills
  • Learning recreational activities
  • Developing social connections

 

Another part of this treatment is reinforcing abstinence by providing vouchers for patients that test negative for substances. This reward of abstinence allows for an individual to properly associate a drug-free way of life as positive and beneficial.

The Matrix Model

The Matrix model is a form of stimulant-specific treatment that assists individuals struggling with stimulant addictions maintain abstinence. It emphasizes learning about core difficulties in addiction and relapse and individuals are also guided and supported by a trained therapist.

This treatment includes other treatment approaches that have worked and allowed individuals to properly recover and maintain recovery. Some of these treatments include:

 

  • Relapse prevention
  • Family and group therapies
  • Drug education
  • Family education groups
  • Early recovery skills groups
  • Relapse analysis
  • Social support groups

 

12-Step Facilitation Therapy

The 12-step facilitation therapy is an engagement form of treatment that works to help an individual take part in communities and self-help programs. This treatment is run by three core ideas:

 

  • Acceptance
  • Surrender
  • Active involvement

 

In acceptance, an individual accepts the position they are in their recovery journey and learns that drug addiction is a complex disease that an individual cannot control. In surrender, an individual accepts help and support from other recovering individuals.

They also follow recovery activities within the 12-step program alongside each other. In active involvement, an individual is constantly staying involved and active in self-help programs and related activities.

This form of treatment is usually utilized to help alcohol-addicted individuals however, it is a form of treatment that has shown promise for substance abuse and maintaining abstinence.

Family Behavior Therapy

Family Behavior Therapy

Family behavior therapy is a beneficial treatment not only for a struggling individual but also for the family or close people of that individual. Allowing the people surrounding an individual to better understand difficulties with substance abuse can help provide emotional support that an individual may need during the difficult times of recovery.

Family therapy sessions for family members or loved ones can lead to a sober support system for a struggling individual. This treatment program increases relapse prevention and allows for a comfortable space for a recovering individual to return to.

Family behavioral therapy has been seen to positively influence many parts of an individual and their family’s lives such as:

 

  • Mental health
  • Family relationships
  • Abstinence
  • Management of substances
  • Work performance
  • Sport performance
  • Self-protection
  • Home safety

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Addiction A Curable Disease?

Addiction being a complex and chronic disease, treatment for addiction is not a cure. Treatment is put in place to better support individuals with abstaining from substance use and prevent relapse.

Treatment programs consist of a variety of therapies, medications, and support groups that can best help an individual through recovery. Although there isn’t a cure for this type of disease, it is a disease that can be properly managed

How Long Does It Take To Recover From Addiction?

In the same way that varying treatments benefit different individuals, there are varying lengths of time for addiction recovery. 90 days of substance abuse treatment is highly recommended to properly recover and maintain recovery.

Drug detoxification does not mean an individual has recovered from their addiction. Detoxification is the first course of action toward recovery. An individual continues to receive assistance at a treatment center and learn skills to manage their addiction.

What Is The Best Way For Someone To Recover From Addiction?

A woman being given a hand up, to show concept of crack addiction treatment and recovery

Every individual person has their own struggles and their own preferred treatment style. The best forms of treatment for an individual focus on the various needs of that individual. This can be seen through a combination of different treatment types.

Building positive structures, practicing healthy behaviors, and living a satisfying life are great ways to maintain recovery from addiction. Many of the skills and behaviors mentioned can be found at a treatment center.

Is There Medication For Addiction?

For some addictions, like alcohol, tobacco, and opioid addiction, there are medications to help individuals function properly without the harmful drugs. These medications typically help block the substance from within the body.

While there currently isn’t a medication to specifically assist with crack or cocaine addiction, medications and treatments to help with addiction are continuously being researched and developed.

The cocaine vaccine is one form of treatment that is still being tested and developed to treat a crack cocaine addiction. With the combined use of other substances such as alcohol, tobacco, or opioids, an individual may be prescribed medications to manage the withdrawals from that drug use.

Individuals struggling with mental disorders may also be prescribed medications to treat and support their disorder. This is a medication not intended to treat addiction but can still assist an individual through addiction.

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Find Crack Addiction Treatment Here

A man calls for help with his crack cocaine addiction

There are various treatment options for addiction treatment however, it can be challenging to find the proper treatment. Here at Find Addiction Rehabs, we can help find the treatment right for you.

Whether finding treatment locations in your area or connecting you with recovery tools and resources, our hotline is available 24/7 to make sure you can get the help you need, anytime you need it.

Trying to recover from addiction alone is a treacherous journey. Treatment facilities are equipped with the tools to help you through this journey and maintain recovery. Find Addiction Rehabs is here to help you through this journey. Call us today!