Tree House Recovery NC

Crack Addiction Treatment

Understanding and Getting Off Crack

What is Crack?

Crack is the crystal form of the drug cocaine. Like cocaine, crack is a powerful stimulant that creates euphoria and is known for its fast-acting effects that do not last long. Crack is made using cocaine, boiling water, and other ingredients that turn the powdered cocaine into crystals that are smoked. This process is called freebasing and is performed by narcotics dealers. Because crack is a street drug, it has never been used medically for any purpose [1].

Those who are struggling with crack addiction should reach out to Tree House Recovery for help. The expert staff of our crack addiction treatment program in North Carolina will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan that meets your unique needs and helps you on your journey to recovery. Call 910.812.1728 today to learn more about substance abuse treatment.

Like cocaine, crack is classified as a Schedule II narcotic, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.

Stimulant  [2].

The History and Origin of Crack

Because crack is made from cocaine, its history also begins with cocaine’s creation. After cocaine was outlawed, its use declined but didn’t disappear, and cocaine continued to be trafficked into the U.S. In the 1970s when helicopters became available, smugglers began using boats to move cocaine [3]. They exploited this tactic so much that it caused cocaine prices to drop significantly in the U.S. As a result, dealers began adding ammonium and baking soda to cocaine to make it more volatile and diluted so that they could recover their losses. In 1981, crack made its first appearance in big cities. It spread quickly since the police didn’t yet recognize it. Unfortunately, crack is far more potent than cocaine, which caused use and overdose to skyrocket [3].

What Does Crack Look Like?

Crack looks like white or yellow rocks made up of tiny crystals [8]. But since other things are added to crack while it’s being made, the color can vary. Sometimes things are added to crack that increase its potency. Typically, dealers add items to crack to increase the weight and sell it to someone who thinks they are getting more crack.

Crack Potency:

Crack is made with cocaine but is stronger than cocaine. Its effects begin more quickly, last longer, and are more potent.  

How is Crack Used?

Crack is only made for illicit use and has no medical value. Crack is typically smoked from a pipe, but it can also be dissolved for injection if combined with a weak acid like lemon juice. Injecting crack is dangerous, but introducing acids into the bloodstream can lead to skin abscesses, black veins, inflamed blood vessels, and heart damage [4]. 

People who use crack cocaine may also mix it with other substances like heroin or alcohol. When people combine a stimulant like crack with a downer like an opioid, it’s called a speedball. According to those in recovery, speedballs negate the urge to nod off from heroin and crack anxiety, providing an intense euphoria. However, speedballs are dangerous because they encourage people to use high amounts of drugs to maintain this state. So, when one wears off, you can experience a delayed overdose from the other drug.

Dangers of Crack:

Crack is a dangerous street-made version of cocaine that is dangerously potent. It mimics an adrenaline rush by elevating your central nervous system. Your body stays in this state while the effects last. This high puts repeated stress on the heart, lungs, and kidneys. After repeated use or high doses, the organs may fail, leading to overdose and crack toxicity symptoms. Crack can also be dangerous for people used to snorting cocaine. Crack is far less diluted than cocaine and thus much more potent. So if cocaine users were to smoke the same amount as they’re used to snorting, they would likely overdose [5]. 

Crack Overdose Rates:

Crack is considered a form of cocaine. The number of cocaine overdoses rose from 6,000 to 14,000 between 2015 and 2017. Since then, the number of cocaine drug overdoses has continued to increase steadily. As of 2019, more than 15,000 people die a year from a cocaine overdose [6].

Crack Overdose Graph:

Crack Addiction Overdose graph

Signs of Crack Addiction

Physical Signs:

Crack creates an immediate euphoric high and feelings of enormous energy. As the drug begins to wear off, the user crashes into a massive low-energy state. As a result of this, signs of crack abuse include:

  • Weak pulse or blood pressure
  • A marked decrease in respiration rate
  • Clammy or sweat-covered skin
  • Vomiting in excess, or the action of vomiting without bile coming out
  • Hyperactivity
  • Confusion 
  • Clumsiness
  • Trembling and fidgeting
  • Irritability or violent behavior
  • Paranoia or abstract thought processes
  • Excessive itching or scratching due to feelings of ‘bugs on the skin.’
  • Coma or coming in and out of consciousness periodically

Changes in Behavior

Because crack cocaine is a stimulant, people who use it tend to get intense amounts of energy, euphoria, and hyperactivity. However, people on crack can experience unpredictable mood swings and impulsivity that can make them a danger to themselves or others. These signs can all be warning signs of addiction.

  • Paranoia
  • Irritable or aggressive behaviors 
  • Anxiety
  • Low appetite 
  • Intense euphoria
  • Rapid speech
  • Not sleeping
  • Hyperactivity 

Side Effects of Crack

Crack cocaine lasts for 30-60 minutes. Unlike cocaine, crack’s effects begin right after it’s smoked. Crack stimulates the reward center of the brain to create an abundance of dopamine. Usually, dopamine is responsible for joy and euphoria, but in high amounts, dopamine can be associated with anger, aggressiveness, hallucinations, delusions, and other dangerous symptoms [7]. Crack also produces norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter involved in the fight or flight response. High amounts of this create the hyperalert feeling of crack, but this state puts stress on the body and organs, leading to heart or lung failure.

  • Euphoria
  • Hyper alertness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Heart failure
  • Seizures
  • Lung failure
  • Depression
  • Aggression
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Hallucinating 
  • Separations from reality (delusions)
  • Organ failure

Crack Street Names

People who illegally use crack may refer to it using street names to discuss it in public places. If you hear someone using one of these terms, it could be a sign that they are using crack: [8]

  • 24-7
  • Applejacks
  • Badrock
  • Ball
  • Base
  • Beat
  • Candy
  • Chemical
  • Cloud
  • Cookies
  • Crack
  • Crumbs
  • Crunch & munch
  • Devil drug
  • Dice
  • Electric kool-aid
  • Fat bags
  • French fries
  • Glo
  • Gravel
  • Grit
  • Hail
  • Hardball
  • Hard rock
  • Hotcakes
  • Ice cube
  • Jelly beans
  • Kryptonite
  • Nuggets
  • Paste
  • Piece
  • Primetime
  • Product
  • Raw
  • Rock(s)
  • Rock star
  • Rox/Roxanne
  • Scrabble
  • Sleet
  • Snow coke
  • Sugar block
  • Topo (Spanish)
  • Tornado
  • Troop 

Crack Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Because of how it works, crack addiction forms very quickly. A person who has taken crack will feel euphorically energetic for 30-60 minutes. But when it wears off, they crash into a state of physical and mental exhaustion. This exhaustion is typical of stimulants that push the body harder and longer than is healthy. The problem is that many of those who use this substance use more crack to feel better. As a result, the body and brain quickly learn to rely on crack to not feel depleted. So, when crack is absent, a person will feel withdrawal symptoms like

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Muscle pain
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Heart attack
  • Insomnia
  • Exhaustion
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating

Our Crack Addiction Treatment Program in North Carolina

Bringing crack addiction into remission requires three things. The first is medical detox, which will allow you to be sober without experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The second phase includes crack rehab to treat the physical, social, and mental causes and effects of your addiction. Finally, you’ll need a solid aftercare plan. There is no cure for addiction, and sobriety doesn’t end in rehab. To thrive after treatment, you need ways to maintain your sobriety.

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Derek Swain: Addiction Writer