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How to Help a Crack Addict

  1. Table of ContentsPrint
  2. Is Crack Addictive?
  3. What Are the Signs of Addiction?
  4. Am I Addicted to Crack?
  5. Crack Addiction Treatment
  6. Call Our Hotline Today


People may become addicted to crack cocaine after trying it only once... Addiction to crack cocaine can be overwhelming, and all but impossible to manage alone.

Crack is a form of the stimulant cocaine and is sold as white or off-white crystals called rocks. Crack first gained popularity in the 1980s as a cheaper alternative to powdered cocaine and is smoked to produce a quick, intense, and short-lived euphoric high.

Is Crack Addictive?

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Crack, like all forms of cocaine, is an addictive drug. Smoking crack causes an immediate, intense high that wears off very quickly—usually within 10 to 15 minutes after the last use. These properties usher in a binge pattern of use, in which people who take crack will smoke large amounts of the drug over a short period of time in an attempt to maintain the high and stop only when their current supply is used up.

As with many addictive drugs, using crack cocaine often leads to the development of tolerance—a condition in which, over time, larger and larger doses of the drug are needed to produce the same results. Tolerance can be one of the first signs of physiologic dependence in a person abusing crack.

A study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology showed that people who smoked crack were more likely to become dependent on it than those using more standard, non-freebased cocaine; the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland warns that people may become addicted to crack cocaine after trying it only once.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

Because most people who are addicted to crack or other drugs will attempt to deny or minimize their use, it can be difficult to determine whether someone is in danger.

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There are several signs that can indicate that someone is smoking crack, including:

  • Possession of paraphernalia such as small glass pipes.
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils.
  • Manic activity and very high energy levels.
  • Speaking in an excited, rushed manner.
  • Burns or other injuries to lips (“crack lip”).
  • Paying less attention to their health and appearance than usual.
  • Money problems and/or increased work or school absences.

Am I Addicted to Crack?

Addiction to crack or other forms of cocaine is a medically recognized mental illness – diagnosed broadly as a "stimulant use disorder" – that often renders people unable to rationally control their use of the drug.

Like other forms of cocaine, crack produces a strong psychological dependence in users. Someone who is dependent on crack will feel depressed, irritable, or anxious when he is not able to use the drug. A dependent person will also experience intense cravings for crack between uses that can distract from other responsibilities and goals, and furthermore decrease any resolve to stop using the drug.

People who are dependent on crack cocaine will continue to use the drug despite negative life consequences like being fired from a job, being arrested, or the breakdown of personal relationships due to crack use. Crack abusers will also often lose interest in activities or hobbies they used to enjoy.

Crack Addiction Treatment

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), crack users made up more than 70% of all cocaine abusers who sought treatment in 2007.

There are currently no drugs approved for treating people with cocaine or crack addictions, so treatment is focused on behavioral therapies and education.

Treatment can be received from inpatient drug rehabilitation centers that provide patients with a safe, controlled environment (generally for a period of 4 weeks or more).

For people with strong support and responsibilities at home, outpatient facilities can provide treatment that allows the patient to work during the day and return home at night.

When people in recovery are ready to return to their lives after treatment, sober living programs can provide long-term support during recovery. Peer support groups, like Cocaine Anonymous or LifeRing, are also widely available and can play a crucial role in maintaining a long-term, drug-free life.

Call Our Hotline Today

Addiction to crack cocaine can be overwhelming, and all but impossible to manage alone.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, help is available. Call us today at 1-888-747-7155 to find out what options are available and get advice on what to do next.


Need Help Understanding Your Addiction Treatment Options? Call 1-888-747-7155.