Yes, Your Child Might Be a Crack Addict

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There are still a lot of stereotypes that surround crack cocaine. Because its production is easy and its price is low, it is often tied to users in lower socioeconomic groups. There is also a presumed racial component; the media almost exclusively presents black addicts. Think crack house, crackhead, and crack baby.

Certainly examples of users who are both poor and black can be produced, that doesn’t mean that white children from the middle class or higher can’t become users. Crack users are presented as chaotic and dangerous people with an addiction so powerful that it cannot be controlled, but that stereotype and the stigma that comes with it aren’t necessarily accurate. The 2007 US Government’s Monitoring the Future survey found that among high-school students, 3.2% of twelfth graders had used crack cocaine at some point in their lives.

As a parent, you shouldn’t ignore a possible problem because you can’t bring yourself to believe that your child is using crack.

Symptoms Associated with Smoking

Crack cocaine is the crystal form of cocaine, which normally comes in a powder form. 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.

Because of the way it is used, keep an eye out for:

  • Tiny plastic bags with small off-white rocks or the residue of drugs that were previously stored in the bag
  • Metal or glass pipes
  • Burned fingers or cracked, blistered lips from holding the hot pipe
  • Hoarseness or difficulty talking caused by damaged mucous linings of the nose and throat

Physical and Mental Effects: Short-Term

The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) identifies the following short-term symptoms of crack use:

  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Constricted peripheral blood vessels
  • Increased rate of breathing
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyper-stimulation
  • Intense euphoria
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety and paranoia
  • Aggressive, paranoid behavior
  • Depression
  • Intense drug craving

Crack cocaine’s high begins immediately after the vapors and inhaled and remains active for 5-15 minutes after. Due to the uncertainty of the drug’s content, your child may show very few or quite a few of these symptoms.

Physical and Mental Effects: Long-Term

The Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) identifies the following long-term symptoms of crack use:

  • Severe depression
  • Irritability and mood disturbances
  • Aggressive, paranoid behavior
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Tolerance and addiction, even after just one use
  • Auditory and tactile hallucinations
  • Heart attack and heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory failure
  • Brain seizures
  • Sexual dysfunction (for both men and women)
  • Reproductive damage and infertility (for both men and women)
  • Increased frequency of risky behavior
  • Death


Because of the speed with which crack enters the system, users quickly develop a tolerance and more to achieve the desired effects. Unfortunately, the high from crack cocaine is short-lived, and users commonly smoke it continually in order to sustain the high. If your child is using, even casually, they are likely well on their way to addiction

In addition, crack works on the brain’s system of reward and punishment, causing intense withdrawal symptoms as soon as the drug wears off, and users will need to get more of the drug so that they can avoid withdrawal.

With coming down, severe depression, which becomes deeper and deeper after each use poses a serious threat. This can get so severe that a person will do almost anything to get the drug—even commit murder. And if he or she can’t get crack cocaine, the depression can get so intense it can drive the addict to suicide.

It can happen to your child. Do not hide from the truth. Although admitting your child is a crack cocaine addict isn’t easy, it is an important first step. Once you have confronted the reality, you can move on to helping change it. Your child wants and needs your support.