Signs of Crack Abuse

Girl feeling the bad side effects of crackThe intense, euphoric rush of crack makes this solid form of cocaine highly addictive — and extremely destructive to the body and mind.

After you smoke or inject crack, the active compounds in this stimulant are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, triggering a buildup of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine: three neurotransmitters that affect your mood and energy levels. But this nearly instantaneous high is followed by an episode of depression, fatigue, and craving for another hit.

This cycle of highs and lows can quickly lead to dependence and addiction. Detecting the signs of crack abuse in yourself or someone you love could prevent some of the serious consequences of cocaine addiction, including:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney damage
  • Seizures
  • Overdose
  • Death

Physical Signs and Symptoms

Approximately 58,000 Americans tried crack cocaine for the first time in 2013, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Crack continues to draw new initiates into substance abuse and addiction each year, in spite of the serious health risks. The euphoric properties of cocaine, a drug derived from the coca plant, can be intensified by combining the powdered form of the drug with water, baking soda, and other substances to make a solid mass of cocaine, or “rock.” Small chunks of solid cocaine can be smoked in a crack pipe — a practice known as “freebasing” — or diluted with vinegar to make a solution that can be injected into the veins.

Crack has powerful effects on the body and mind. After smoking or injecting crack, the typical user feels the effects of this stimulant within seconds. Crack accelerates all of the body’s activities, making the user feel temporarily energized and strong.

Signs of Use

The immediate effects of the drug can be detected in a number of ways:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Tense muscles
  • Rapid speech
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excitability
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Tremors or convulsions

Over time, crack takes a toll on all of the body’s systems. Long-term signs of crack abuse include:

  • Weight loss
  • Insomnia
  • Pale, dry skin
  • Scabs and scratches from picking
  • Needle marks on the arms (in users who inject intravenously)
  • Scabs or blisters on the lips (in users who smoke crack with a pipe)
  • Fatigue

Psychological and Emotional Effects

Crack abuse has a profound effect on the way the user acts and feels. After the initial surge of energy, exhilaration, and invincibility, the user plunges into a state of depression, irritability, and anxiety. A person who is abusing crack on a regular basis may display the following behavioral and psychological changes:

  • Aggression
  • Violent impulses
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Hallucinations
The American Academy of Family Physicians notes that depression, mental exhaustion, suicidal thoughts, and anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure in ordinary experiences, are common in people who are withdrawing from the effects of a stimulant like crack cocaine. To prevent self-destructive behavior, social isolation, and relapse, most users need professional substance abuse treatment in order to quit the drug successfully.

Recovering From Crack Addiction

crack AddictionOnce the brain gets used to the effects of this stimulant, the user comes to rely on the drug just to feel alive and fully functional. Recovering from crack addiction can be extremely challenging, because the cravings and withdrawal symptoms are so overpowering.

Axis offers customizable, high-end treatment programs that guide the individual through the recovery process, from cocaine detox to inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment, and aftercare. Our goal is to utilize clinically based therapies to build a solid foundation for a sustainable recovery. Call our toll-free number at any time to learn more about our personalized approach to substance abuse treatment.