In recent years there has been quite a bit of media attention focused on crack addiction. It is often portrayed as the worst of all drugs, and there are many who would agree that such a reputation is deserved. One of the particularly worrying aspects of this type of substance is that users can develop an insatiable appetite for it. This can lead to increased criminality, as addicts attempt to satisfy their hunger for the drug. With most other illicit substances, there will be a limit on how much the addict can consume in one day. There is less of a restraint when it comes to crack. After the brief euphoric high wears off, the addict will be hungry for more.
Crack is the most potent form of cocaine. It is also chemically known as cocaine hydrochloride and is a solid form of freebase cocaine. It gets the name crack because it makes a cracking sound during the manufacturing process. Freebase means that the drug has been converted from its salt to its base form. This is achieved by cooking it with sodium bicarbonate or ammonia. It is most often purchased as a whitish rock with jagged edges. It is consumed by heating in a glass pipe and inhaling the vapor that is produced.
Crack cocaine differs from standard cocaine in that it creates a far more intense high which is of shorter duration. As it is in vapor form, it is able to enter the bloodstream quickly. It only takes about 8 seconds before this drug starts to affect the brain. Like some other drugs, the high of crack is caused by increases in the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain. As well as causing and upsurge in the amount of dopamine present, the drug also interferes with the neuron’s ability to reuptake it. This neurotransmitter is part of the body’s rewards system and high levels of it make the individual feel full of energy and intensely happy. The high produced by the drug only lasts for about ten minutes. This differs from regular cocaine where he high can last for an hour or more.
The high created by crack cocaine is immediate and intensely pleasurable. The low that comes after the drug wears off is unpleasant. Users will respond to this depression by using more of the drug to get high again. It is easy for an individual to slip into a crack addiction because of their desire to experience the intense highs and avoid the lows that come afterwards. During the high of this drug the user will experience:
* Feelings of well-being and euphoria
* High confidence
* High energy levels
* Loss of inhibitions
* High self-esteem
Like other types of addiction the main reason why many people become a slave to the drug is an attempt to escape the problems of daily life. In the beginning, the individual might only have been experimenting with the drug out of boredom, but it is a highly seductive substance. Some people can become addicted to crack after their first experience with it. As the addiction takes hold it can completely take over the individual’s life. Crack can seemingly destroy everything that is good in the person’s life. It can turn people into zombies who are unable to satisfy their insatiable hunger for the drug.
Crack cocaine also has a number of other street names including:
* French Fries
Crack cocaine can have a devastating impact on both body and mind. The dangers of this type of drug abuse include:
* As this type of cocaine is absorbed so quickly into the blood stream there is a much higher risk of overdose and death.
* High levels of anxiety
* Feelings of impending doom
* Physiological changes such as increased blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature
* Increased likelihood of criminality as the individual becomes desperate for more of the drug
* Aggression and irritability
* Long term damage to the brain
* Body organ damage
* Nutritional deficiencies
* Problems with work and family life
* Chronic insomnia
* Respiratory system damage
* Cardiovascular problems
* Dental damage due to regular dry mouth
Crack cocaine and standard cocaine are considered to be the same drug when it comes to most statistics. This is not always the case with prison sentences, because those who deal in crack cocaine tend to receive harsher punishments in the US. Traditionally, crack use is more prevalent in poorer neighborhoods. It first became popular during the 1980s when the media described a crack epidemic hitting many American cities. Things do not appear as dire today but it is believed that as much as 14.7% of the population in the US has at least tried the drug, that is about 36.8 million people. The statistics suggest a slight decline in cocaine use in recent years.
Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Addiction
Those individuals who are addicted to crack cocaine will tend to exhibit tell-tale signs of their substance abuse. The most common symptoms include:
* Loss of interest in other activities
* Lying and other unethical behavior
* Reduced productivity at work
* Many days off work
* Inability to meet family and social responsibilities
* Inability to sleep
* Manic behavior
* Dramatic weight loss and a lack of interest in food
* Episodes of paranoia
* Aggressive outbursts over trivial matters
* Licking of lips due to dry mouth
* Acts irrationally
It is difficult to treat a crack addict unless they are fully committed to escaping the substance abuse. The actual withdrawal process can involve less discomfort than what is experienced with most other recreational drugs. Once people have decided that they have had enough they may be able to recover with the help of an in-patient treatment program.
The ease by which some people can give up crack has negative consequences because it means they will be less worried about a future relapse. They may justify a return to abuse with thoughts that they will easily be able to quit again later. Those who seek support for their addiction recovery will be far more likely to be successful long-term.
Users will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as the high wears off. It is the desire to keep these symptoms at bay that will promote chronic use of the drug. Those who decide to quit crack will not tend to experience any additional physical withdrawal symptoms. The usual symptoms that people complain of when coming off crack are more psychological in nature and include:
* Lack of energy
* Inability to sleep
* Strong desire to take the drug again
* Restlessness and agitation
Some chronic users can develop brain damage that may be irreversible even if they quit the drug.