Last updated: 04/1/2019
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 3 minutes
Most people believe that crack abuse will never be a part of their lives. It will always be something that happens to somebody else. But, the reality is that crack abuse isn’t limited to people of certain races and income brackets. It is a terrible addiction that rises up in every socioeconomic and racial group because it is widely available and incredibly cheap. It is also highly addictive and the high is short lived, which means people who smoke crack will grow to need it all the time.
If you are worried that someone you know is developing a crack addiction, keep an eye out for both physical and mental symptoms. Also, if you are already seeing signs, it’s time to get in touch with a knowledgeable support system.
Crack cocaine has a number of side effects that will mirror those of other drug use or even ones associated with general depression or fatigue. Those symptoms will be harder to spot. But, there are symptoms that will be more obvious.
“Crack cocaine is the crystal form of cocaine, which normally comes in a powder form,” according to definition. “It comes in solid blocks or crystals varying in color from yellow to pale rose or white. Crack is heated and smoked. It is so named because it makes a cracking or popping sound when heated.”
Those crack rocks and the ways in which they are smoked leave telltale evidence. A certain signal is the presence of tiny plastic bags containing small, off-white rocks or the residue of crack. Along with the drug itself, look for the metal or glass pipes used to smoke crack. Because crack smoke doesn’t last long, the pipes tend to be short and that leads people to burn their fingers and mouth on the pipe. Look out for cracked or blistered fingers and lips. Lastly, because the caustic smoke is inhaled, the mucous linings of the nose and throat can be damaged causing a level of hoarseness and even difficulty speaking.
Physical Symptoms: Short Term
If the suspected addict has recently gotten high, the following physical symptoms may be present:
- Increased blood pressure and heart rate
- Constricted peripheral blood vessels
- Increased rate of breathing
- Dilated pupils
Mental Symptoms: Short-Term
If the suspected addict has recently gotten high, the following mental symptoms may be present:
- Intense euphoria
- Decreased appetite
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Aggressive, paranoid behavior
- Intense drug craving
Physical Symptoms Long-Term
If the suspected addict has been using for a long time, look out for these physical symptoms:
- Heart attack and heart disease
- Respiratory failure
- Brain seizures
- Sexual dysfunction (for both men and women)
- Reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women)
Mental Symptoms Long-Term
If the suspected addict has been using for a long time, look out for these mental symptoms:
- Severe depression
- Irritability and mood disturbances
- Aggressive, paranoid behavior
- Delirium or psychosis
- Tolerance and addiction, even after just one use
- Auditory and tactile hallucinations
- Increased frequency of risky behavior
It is important to remember that street drugs, like crack cocaine, go through a number of hands and are manufactured in many different ways. This means that an individual’s symptoms will be different from one person to another.
In addition to the differences caused by age, mental temperament, and genetics, the large variance in the drug’s makeup can mean some symptoms will be more pronounced in your addict.
Therefore, be fluid in your understanding of the symptoms. They don’t all have to be present for a person to be addicted. In fact, only a few can show up and a person can be totally dependent on crack.