Crack cocaine is the crystal form of cocaine, and is sold in blocks and crystals (rocks), whose color ranges from yellow to pale pink to white. The crack rocks are heated and smoked and the drug is actually named for the cracking sound that occurs when the crack is heated.
If you are encountering crack usage in your life or in the life of a loved one, reach out to Addictions.com for help. Call 800-654-0987.
The mid-80’s saw the widespread use of crack cocaine in inner city neighborhoods in big cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City. This was termed the crack epidemic and the drug owed much of its prevalence to being both widely and cheaply available. However, the epidemic didn’t lead to the widespread use predicted.
Just how addictive is crack cocaine?
According to the Manual of Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment: “It is the most addicting form of cocaine and one of the most addicting forms of any drug.” Because it takes only eight seconds to reach the brain, the effects of crack are felt swiftly. This also is why dependence develops so quickly.
Crack cocaine is one of the most powerful illegal drugs when it comes to producing psychological dependence. It stimulates key pleasure centers within the brain and causes extremely heightened euphoria. Compulsive crack use develops soon after the person starts using, because the substance is smoked and enters the blood stream rapidly. A tolerance develops quickly—the addict soon fails to achieve the same high experienced earlier from the same amount of crack cocaine.
Tolerance and Withdrawal
Two of the aspects of crack cocaine use that increase it addictive nature are the speed with which users come-down from the euphoria of the drug and the rate at which tolerance increases.
Crack cocaine alters the way that the brain processes chemicals and this means that users must increase the amount they use just to feel normal. Those who become addicted lose interest in other areas of their life (eating, sleeping, hygiene) and funnel all of their energy into obtaining and smoking crack. Because of their increased tolerance, they must have the drug.
In addition, as the drug leaves the body, it causes severe depression. The depression increases in severity after each subsequent use and can become so overwhelming and severe that addicts will do anything to escape it. If he or she can’t get more crack cocaine, the withdrawal depression can get so intense it can drive the addict to commit suicide.
It’s no wonder that an addict’s brain begins craving crack shortly after use begins. The drug causes dopamine to flood through the addict and this causes intense euphoria. After multiple uses, the process lays down a regular route. As more drug use occurs, the route becomes more permanent. The addiction causes the user to seek out crack in order to flood the route with additional dopamine. After a short period, that route needs dopamine via crack just for the user to feel normal. As noted above, coming down from use causes an intense depression whose severity further leads to drug use.
The euphoria of crack is strong enough for users to ignore many of the negative short-term effects identified as:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature
- Contracted blood vessels
- Increased rate of breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Bizarre, erratic, sometimes violent behavior
- Hallucinations, hyperexcitability, irritability
- Tactile hallucination that creates the illusion of bugs burrowing under the skin
- Intense euphoria
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Intense drug craving
- Panic and psychosis
- Convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses (even one time)
These are some terrible side effects but the euphoria and risk of depression associated with crack use are strong enough to fuel the addiction and make crack cocaine use so dangerous. If you are struggling with crack addiction or someone you care about it, you need to break the cycle of dependence. Call Addictions.com at 800-654-0987 and get help today.