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Crack Abuse

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Key Facts About Crack Abuse
  3. Risks of Crack Abuse
  4. Signs and Symptoms
  5. Effects of Crack Abuse
  6. Crack Abuse Treatment

Key Facts About Crack Abuse

What Is Crack?

Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine that is popular among drug users who seek an immediate high.

Along with the euphoric high, crack produces a stimulant effect on the body. This means that it will speed up processes in the body, as well as increase attention and focus.

The name crack actually comes from the sound that is produced from burning the rock-shaped chunks that are white, yellow, or pink in color. Other names for the substance include:

  • Nuggets.
  • Jelly beans.
  • Gravel.
  • Dice.
  • Candy.
  • Piece.
  • Rocks.
  • Base.
  • Cookies.

Since this form of cocaine is often smoked, it results in a more immediate influence because the drug is readily absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream. The effects are quick to be felt, peak quickly, and then end after only 5 or 10 minutes. This cycle adds to the risk of addiction, tolerance, and dependence on the substance.

Why Do People Use Crack? 

Those who use crack do so to achieve a “high” that includes:

  • A euphoric feeling.
  • Inflated sense of self and increased self-importance.
  • Sense of escaping reality.
  • Intense burst of energy.
  • Increased focus.

As with other drugs, the desired effects quickly become replaced with negatives.

Crack Abuse Quiz question 2

Crack Abuse Quiz question 3

Risks of Crack Abuse

Crack is addictive because it causes an intense high. When users smoke crack, they experience extreme euphoria. Everything they experience seems more intense, and they may become energetic or overly alert as a result of taking the drug.

When the high wears off, the user feels a need to smoke more crack because he or she becomes agitated, restless, paranoid, or irritable. These symptoms are signs of addiction, dependency, and withdrawal.

People who abuse crack are at risk of endangering themselves or others because of their need for the substance and the way it stimulates their central nervous systems. Crack abusers tend to engage in the following behaviors:

You don’t have to continue suffering under the weight of a crack addiction. Learn how treatment can help.

  • Risky sexual behaviors. Crack intensifies sexual desire and removes inhibitions. Those high on crack might be more likely to have sex with multiple partners and are also more likely to have unprotected sex. In addition to risky sexual behaviors while under the influence of crack, some people may choose exchange sex for the drug.
  • Increased tendencies towards violence. Crack cocaine intensifies emotional experiences, including anger and rage. People who are high on crack may be more likely to abuse their spouses or significant others. They may also harm themselves intentionally or unintentionally.
  • Getting into risky situations in order to obtain crack. Crack users often enter dangerous neighborhoods or agree to do risky things in order to obtain the substance. Crack addiction is a powerful motivator, and many addicts are willing to do almost anything in exchange for some more of the substance.
  • Neglecting their other responsibilities. People that are interested in obtaining the drug will care little for paying their bills, attending work, maintaining relationships with family members, or even caring for their children.
  • Breaking the law. Many crack addicts steal to support their habit. Addicts may commit robberies or engage in other illegal activity, including prostitution, to gain money to buy crack. In addition, crack possession itself is illegal, so addicts may face legal trouble for using it even if they don't engage in these behaviors.

Signs and Symptoms

Addiction is when someone will engage in risky, dangerous, or problematic behaviors to continue receiving and using the substance.

Crack is a very dangerous substance. It is very unlikely that someone can use crack cocaine in a recreational way. Any crack use must be taken seriously by the user and those that love him. Symptoms of crack abuse may be both physical and psychological.

Physical Symptoms

Sometimes parents and other people who care about a crack addict may be concerned that a person is abusing crack. Physical signs of crack abuse include:

  • Dilated pupils .
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Insomnia.

Tolerance and Addiction

One of the most important signs of abuse is that you are building tolerance to the amount of crack cocaine you usually smoke. Tolerance occurs when your body adapts to the crack in your system and requires greater amounts of it to have the same effect.

If you are no longer satisfied with a small amount of crack and feel a need for larger and larger amounts, you have built a tolerance.

Once tolerance is established, addiction to the substance is likely. Addiction is when someone will engage in risky, dangerous, or problematic behaviors to continue receiving and using the substance. If someone is engaging in the risky sexual behaviors, violence, and illegal activities surrounding their use as outlined above, they are likely addicted to crack.

During addiction, someone will be less rational and logical. It will be increasingly challenging to maintain a relationship due to the influence of the substance.

This does not mean that someone should end relationships with someone experiencing addiction. It only means that you may need additional supports and a new plan of action.


Following tolerance and addiction, withdrawal is another sign of crack abuse. Withdrawal is when unwanted symptoms present after being free of the substance for some time. During withdrawal someone may experience:

  • High levels of depression.
  • Increased anxiety, stress, and worry.
  • Being highly irritable and easily agitated.
  • Intense cravings for more crack.

To know more about the drug, it is important to understand the psychological and physical symptoms of crack abuse. The psychological symptoms include:

  • Persistent and obsessive thoughts about smoking crack.
  • Inability to stop despite a strong desire to do so.
  • Tendency to put a high priority on obtaining the drug.
  • Smoking crack at the expense of your finances, your relationships, or other important aspects of your life.

Crack Cocaine and Your Brain

The following video shows how your brain is affected by crack cocaine use and how using it can lead to dependence, addiction, and an array of negative effects.


To learn more visit our blog, Crack Cocaine's Effect on Brain.

Effects of Crack Abuse

Crack abuse can cause side effects on both your short-term and long-term health in real and drastic ways.

Short-term health risks of crack abuse include:

  • Cardiovascular risks including higher heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
  • Higher breathing rates.
  • Nausea.
  • Odd or bizarre behaviors.
  • Hallucinations including seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not present.
  • Delusional thinking.
  • Paranoia.
  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Seizures.

The above negative effects of the substance can occur after only one use at a high dose.

Long-term Effects of Crack

Long-term effects can occur after days, weeks, months, and years of consistent abuse. They include:


  • Long-lasting cardiovascular issues that may include heart attack, stroke, and damaged vessels.
  • Organ damage to the point of failure.
  • Malnutrition due to significant weight loss.
  • Confusion.
  • Psychotic symptoms for extended periods.
  • Damage to the lips, mouth, and teeth.
  • Major depression, anxiety, and irritability.

Don't wait until crack use has caused debilitating effects on your health and mental state to begin your recovery.

Call 1-888-747-7155 to speak confidentially to someone who can help you find the treatment you need to begin your journey to recovery.

Crack Abuse Quiz question 4

Crack Abuse Quiz question 5

Crack Abuse Treatment

Treatment for crack abuse usually begins with detoxification. This is a controlled withdrawal from crack cocaine that is usually performed at a detox center. Doctors monitor patients for severe physical symptoms of crack withdrawal. Patients may also experience mood swings, agitation and anxiety during the withdrawal period. This period varies in duration based on the amount of use and the time the substance was abused for. Withdrawal can be more severe if the patient has used crack at high doses for an extended duration. Some users may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome, in which symptoms extend past the acute phase.


After finishing detox, many patients enter a rehab center. Rehab programs are generally inpatient, which means patients live at the rehab center while getting treatment. Treatment focuses on the psychological aspects of addiction -- patients receive individual and group therapy and may attend support groups such as 12-step groups like Narcotics Anonymous. These programs last anywhere from 30 days to 1 year.

Rehab is followed by outpatient treatment, in which patients return to their daily lives but visit the treatment center on a regular basis to receive therapy and other treatment. Some patients transition back to their normal lives by living in a halfway house or sober living facility. These facilities are run like regular apartments, but residents must follow house rules such as curfews and must submit to regular drug tests to prove they are clean.

In outpatient treatment, someone in recovery from crack might meet with a mental health or addiction therapist weekly on an ongoing basis. Someone in recovery will also benefit from community supports like sober activities and meetings.

Crack Abuse Quiz question 6

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