Last updated: 11/15/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Crack is a potent form of cocaine that can easily be produced from powder cocaine to be smoked. This form of ingestion causes the crack chemicals to reach the brain much more rapidly and in higher concentrations than the traditional methods of snorting cocaine powder.
1. Toxic Poisoning
Crack abusers endanger themselves with every hit they take by ingesting toxic chemicals that are used in the processed cocaine as well as those added to make the “crack rocks”. Signs of crack use may be infections, low immunity, breathing problems, organ damages, or fatal poisonings.
Crack users risk overdose by varying potency levels, combining crack use with other substances, or when they have compromised health issues. According to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, in 2011, the highest number of estimated emergency department visits involved cocaine abuse at 505,224 visits.
Signs of crack use may be a cycle of abuse that can go on for days. These binge cycles will consist of multiple “runs” for more crack after supplies become exhausted. The users may only stop when their funds and connections become unavailable or they are too worn out to go on.
After using crack for a few hours or days, users experience a storm of activity within the brain and central nervous system that are, essentially, the opposite of their “feel good high”. These rebound signs of crack use can cause users to become agitated, withdrawn, or excessively sleepy and lead to severe depression, and suicidal, harmful, or aggressive behaviors.
A common sign of crack use isparanoia. Abusers think they are being followed or watched and the fear can become so overwhelming that they make rash decisions placing themselves or others in harm. Paranoia can lead to panic attacks and other psychosis which can be physically or psychologically dangerous.
Tactile hallucinations (coke bugs) may lead to picking at the skin which can lead to bacterial infections and other bodily damages. Auditory hallucinations may be symptoms of paranoia and signs of crack use that precedes an overdose.
Panic causes difficulty or erratic breathing, elevated heart rate and blood pressure, and can lead to a stroke, seizure, unconsciousness, respiratory failure, or heart attack.
8. Other Psychosis
Beyond paranoia, hallucinations, and panic, other signs of crack use can be a myriad of unexplainable and irrational behaviors that may resemble schizophrenia, mania, or delusional behaviors. The psychotic behaviors of any psychosis can become potentially dangerous.
9. Physical Impairments
Pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, low immunity, infections, burns, kidney or urinary problems, high blood pressure, low oxygen levels, malnutrition, and vitamin deficiencies, brain and central nervous system damages are serious health consequences of crack abuse.
10. Psychological and Behavioral Changes
Functional and structural brain changes can lead to an inability to control thoughts, emotions, or behaviors which may become unwanted, immoral, or dangerous.