Crack cocaine is the so-called “freebase” form of cocaine and can be smoked. In its purest form, crack appears as an off-white rock or nugget with sharp edges. The density is similar to candle wax, but a bit firmer along the lines of harder plastic. Crack gets its name from the ‘crackling’ noise it makes when smoked.
Crack cocaine is a powerful stimulant. Principally, crack cocaine produces psychoactive and addictive effects by acting on the brain’s “limbic” system – the regions of the brain that regulate pleasure and motivation. Due to the highly addictive nature of crack cocaine, the Federal government classifies it as a Schedule Class II controlled dangerous substance (meaning it has a high potential for abuse and dependency).
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Crack Addiction, Use and Abuse?
The signs and symptoms of crack use, crack abuse or crack addiction vary depending upon the user, as well as the amount and frequency of use. The most common signs of smoking crack are:
- Large pupils
- Glossy eyes
- Reddened, cracked, or blistered lips
- Weight loss
- Sensitivity to light and sound
Crack addiction and abuse also typically cause behavioral or personality changes. The severity of these changes usually increases with the frequency and amount of crack used. These changes can include:
- Hyperactivity followed by exhaustion
- Gorging on food, followed by periods of not eating at all
- Extreme sexual fantasies, without follow through
- Low self-esteem, followed by bouts of extreme self-confidence
- Intensely focus arguments
What are the Long-Term Effects of Crack Addiction?
When taken in high doses, or used in binges over extended period, crack can cause the user to experience delusions, paranoia, and disorientation. Crack cocaine users (may also be referred to as “Crack Addict”) may display aggressive or antisocial behavior and may suffer psychosis (a state in which the person loses touch with reality, including experiencing hallucinations).
Some common health problems associated with crack abuse and crack addiction include:
- Acute injury to the lungs (pulmonary embolism, pulmonary edema, scarring)
- Tremors and muscle twitches
- Auditory hallucinations
- Infertility and sexual dysfunction
- Restlessness and irritability
- Serious skin infections (sometimes associated with obsessive picking due to the sensation of insects crawling under the skin)
- Heart problems (including an enlarged heart or heart attack)
- Nervous system problems (including strokes)
- Digestive problems
- Other infections, including HIV and hepatitis, and other diseases (by sharing paraphernalia, and/or engaging in at-risk behaviors)
How Does Crack Addiction & Abuse Affect The Brain?
In our regular day-to-day life, the brain releases low amounts of dopamine in response to pleasurable activities. Crack addiction and abuse affect the brain by increasing the release of dopamine, which causes feelings of intense pleasure and euphoria. Crack use also prevents the normal reabsorption of dopamine by the brain’s nerve cells.
Crack abuse causes the body to build a tolerance to the increased levels of dopamine. The body then craves/desires increasing levels of crack to sustain the feelings of pleasure and euphoria, often leaving the user with feelings of withdrawal and depression when dopamine levels drop.
What Can You Do for Crack Addiction Help?
Please call our NJ rehab center today to find out what drug treatment programs may be available for you or your loved one. Call our rehab facilities in NJ 24 hours a day at 888-687-6977, or contact us here.