Crack cocaine is an illegal, powerful stimulant drug derived from powdered cocaine. It is produced by dissolving cocaine powder with either baking soda or ammonia and water, and cooking the mixture until solids appear. Once dried, these solids form rocks of crack cocaine.
Crack cocaine is considered the most addictive form of cocaine, and one of the most addictive substances in circulation. It is generally smoked, creating a high which is almost instantaneous – but also short. It is addictive and dangerous.
Recognizing the Signs of Crack Cocaine Addiction
If you are using crack cocaine, there will be physical telltale signs. It will also affect your psychological state, mood, and behavior. Physically, symptoms you may experience are:
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle twitches
- Burns on fingers or lips
- Tooth decay, bleeding gums
- Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
- Cravings for the drug
- Loss of appetite
Mentally you may notice:
- Mood swings
- Insomnia, changes in sleeping patterns
- Aggressive or erratic behavior
- Exaggerated confidence, hyperactivity
If you are a regular crack cocaine user, you may also display withdrawal symptoms if you go without the drug for a period of time. You may complain of muscle pain and diarrhea, become feverish, or feel depressed or anxious. You may also find yourself neglecting your responsibilities, at work or at home.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, it may indicate that you should seek help and support. The longer you are dependent on crack cocaine, the more your symptoms will worsen and will become more difficult to treat.
Crack Cocaine Dependence
Crack cocaine is far more addictive than regular cocaine and it does not take long to develop a dependency. Crack cocaine can induce psychological dependence faster than the majority of other illegal drugs.
As the drug gets taken more often a feeling of need develops and eventually you will feel you require the drug just to feel normal. Here are a few reasons why it is so addictive:
- The crack cocaine high is quick and usually kicks in within less than ten seconds. It is intense and short, wearing off after around fifteen minutes. You therefore rapidly crave another hit.
- Tolerance develops rapidly: you need more and more of the drug to get the high you want.
- A single hit can create an addiction
- It’s extremely hard to quit: if you try to quit, or are deprived of the drug for a while, the cravings for more and the withdrawal symptoms can be very intense. This can drive you straight back to using.
Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Abuse
Crack cocaine is one of the most dangerous drugs available – thousands of fatalities occur every year from overdose. There are huge dangers with taking crack cocaine and a lot of symptoms will develop as a side effect of drug abuse. Some of the main symptoms include:
- Addiction; in some subjects, a single taste of the drug is enough to set an addiction in motion.
- Racing heart rate, or even cardiac arrest, convulsions.
- Severe damage to internal organs and nervous system
- Psychosis, hallucinations
- Exacerbated anxiety, panic attacks
- Severe depression
- Decreased awareness of risks: when driving, using power tools, operating machinery, etc.
Other risks include:
- Arrest for being in possession of an illegal substance
- Loss of jobs, unemployment
Alongside death and irreversible damage to health, crack cocaine can deprive you of a bright future. In addition, after dependency is established, you will experience withdrawal symptoms when you go a period of time without the drug.
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Diagnosing Crack Cocaine Addiction
As crack cocaine is highly addictive and can seriously affect your life. It is important to understand the symptoms of addiction and know that regardless of the extent of the addiction, there is always help available.
If you are struggling with crack cocaine addiction or know of somebody who is, there is an assessment process that can be followed in order to diagnose the addiction.
The level of addiction will be assessed using questions from the DSM-5. If you answer “yes” to two or more, this could indicate a moderate substance use disorder, between four and five could indicate a mild SUD and six or more could indicate a severe SUD. The questions will be similar to the following:
- Are you unable to control the quantity of crack cocaine you are consuming?
- Are you unable to cut down on the quantity you are taking?
- Do you have intense cravings for the substance?
- Do you rely on more crack cocaine for the same desired effect?
- Have you developed withdrawal symptoms in absence of crack cocaine?
- Do you spend larger amounts of time on and recovering from crack cocaine?
- Have you neglected responsibilities as a consequence of taking crack cocaine?
- Do you continue to use crack cocaine despite it causing problems in your personal life?
- Have you given up other hobbies or activities to prioritize crack cocaine use?
- Have you put yourself in dangerous situations for crack cocaine use?
- Do you continue to use crack cocaine even though you are noticing mental and physical side effects?
This evaluation process will allow medical professionals to help you understand your addiction and support you with ways that you can begin to tackle and overcome your addiction.
Treating the Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Abuse and Addiction
When it comes to treating addiction, there is no easy fix. However, help is always available and there are always people you can turn to for support and medical advice. There is currently no medication that can be prescribed to treat crack cocaine addiction. Therapeutic approaches therefore, have to rely on behavioral therapies. Some of the therapies on offer range from:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: a psychotherapeutic approach that helps you gain more self-awareness, and recognize the things and situations that trigger your drug use. It also teaches you different ways of relating to your emotions, and of responding to life’s challenges.
- Group therapy: this approach utilizes a group setting for you to talk about your problems and addiction. Often, a specific addiction-related topic is discussed and explored. Sessions are conducted under the guidance of a therapist.
- Residential treatment: a stay in a rehab is on average anything from four weeks to six months. As well as behavioral therapies and counseling, rehabs offer the advantage of a safe environment. With twenty-four-hour support at hand, rehabs are a great place to build some solid abstinence.
These physical symptoms are signs that you have a true addiction, rather than just an abuse problem. The only way to relieve your body from physical symptoms of addiction is to rid your body of substances through a medical detox.