Cocaine, and its freebase form, crack, are highly addictive and illegal drugs that have devastated millions of lives with addiction and the bizarre behaviors associated with it. In 2008, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), estimated that 1.9 million Americans were cocaine users, of which approximately 359,000 were using crack. Although cocaine and crack addiction are on a decline, these drugs have not decreased in their potency, potential for addiction, and the devastation they cause when one becomes addicted to them.
Cocaine addiction is still a serious health and social concern in the United States, as millions of people continue to struggle with it. Across all demographics, cocaine produces effects of euphoria and alertness in users, but also does so for short periods, which are followed by a severe “crash” when the effects wear off. A cocaine high lasts approximately 15-60 minutes, depending on how the drug is administered. A faster high is achieved through smoking or injecting the drug, but this method also produces the shortest high, lasting only 10-15 minutes. Snorting cocaine results in a slower high, but also one that can last up to 45 minutes.
Cocaine can be snorted, injected, or smoked, and it has several psychological and physical effects that can cause severe complications. Some effects of cocaine use are:
- Rapid heart rate
- Increase in body temperature
- Increased alertness
- Increased sense of self-esteem
- Intense euphoria
- Increased energy
- Decreased appetite
- Dilated pupils
Some effects of cocaine can be intensified with larger amounts of the drug, but many users have experienced negative effects such as:
- Bizarre and erratic behavior
- Panic attacks
- Heart attack
- Muscle spasms
Cocaine addiction can also lead to many other social problems since the drug is illegal throughout the United States. As such, the sale, procurement, possession, and use of cocaine place addicts at an increased risk of arrest and serious legal consequences. According to the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, 85% of the US prison population is incarcerated for crimes relating to drugs and/or alcohol.
Cocaine use often occurs in binges, or periods of repeated use of the drug, with the user taking higher amounts each time. A cocaine binge can last for several hours or several days. One of the most dangerous aspects of a cocaine binge is the negative effects of using large amounts of the drug, such as paranoia, aggression, and anxiety. When these effects are present in an individual who has been awake for multiple days, complete psychosis can occur, where an addict loses touch with reality and experiences hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real).
Signs Of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine addiction and use are two different conditions, and one who uses cocaine occasionally is not necessarily addicted to the drug. The National Institute of Health outlines 6 key signs that one who is using cocaine may be addicted to the drug.
- Increased tolerance, which requires more cocaine to achieve the desired effects
- Withdrawal symptoms when cocaine use is stopped, such as fatigue, agitation, sleep disturbances, and/or depression
- Obsessing and expending excessive time and energy over cocaine use and procurement of cocaine
- Using cocaine whenever it is available, and exercising no control over the amount used
- Inability to maintain or obtain a job resulting from compulsive cocaine use, frequent absenteeism, and/or unacceptable behavior
- Continuation of cocaine use despite negative consequences, such as paranoia, weight loss, seizures, and/or delusions
Crack is the freebase, water soluble form of cocaine, and it produces a more intense and faster high, which is also followed by an equally intense crash in 5-15 minutes after its use. Crack has a lower melting temperature than cocaine (98 degrees vs. 165 degrees), and when it is smoked, provides a user with more cocaine delivered directly to the lungs and brain for an instant high. Crack can also be melted in water and injected. However, the most intense and immediate high comes from smoking this drug, which is why smoking crack is the most common form of use.
Like cocaine, crack binges are extremely common among addicts, with repeated use of crack for multiple hours or days, and addicts smoking all of the crack they have. These binges often result in addicts trying to smoke things like scraps of soap or chipped paint, thinking that they are leftover pieces of crack.
Although most of the effects of crack use are identical to those of cocaine use, the high and crash from crack are more intense, which results in more bizarre behaviors while high, and more extreme measures to get more crack after a crash. Crack addicts are notorious for some of the most desperate behavior in attempts to get more crack. During the crack epidemic of the mid 1980s through 1990s, the media was flooded with horrific stories of crack addicts engaging in such behaviors like:
- Leaving infants alone at home or on the streets to get high
- Prostituting for crack money
- Property crime and murder resulting from addicts desperate for more crack
- Selling or prostituting young children to dealers for more crack
The truth of the matter is that individuals addicted to any drug can be just as desperate, and engage in heinous behaviors to sustain their addiction.
When addicts go through crack withdrawal, the effects are similar to those of cocaine, and can result in a frantic effort to get more of the drug by any means necessary. This intense craving is referred to as “jonesing.” Some of the withdrawal symptoms from crack and cocaine are:
- Intense cravings
- Severe agitation, and possible violence
- Excessive sleep
- Vivid and disturbing nightmares
Cocaine and Crack Addiction Treatment
Cocaine and crack are highly addictive stimulant drugs that have the same effects, and only differ in the degree of intensity experienced by users. When the crash of cocaine and crack use occur, addicts with any access to more, will undoubtedly return to their use of these drugs. It is for this reason, a supervised detox program is the best way in which to detox from these drugs, but recovery does not stop there. Detox from cocaine and crack is only the first step in achieving sobriety and recovery from addiction. The process of detox is approximately 5 days, depending on an individual’s health and any other drug addictions he or she may have. Once detox has been completed, a cocaine or crack addict is strongly encouraged to enter an addiction treatment facility where he or she can:
- Explore his or her past traumas, losses, and/or transgressions for resolution and determination if/how they have contributed to addiction and destructive behaviors
- Build supportive friendships and fellowship in group therapy, among others with similar issues and struggles
- Learn survival and coping skills that are essential in preventing relapse once treatment has been completed
- Develop a plan for staying sober, maintaining recovery support, and rebuilding a strong and healthy life in recovery
Treatment for cocaine and crack addiction is essential, as detox alone does nothing to address underlying issues that may be fueling addiction, and does not facilitate sustained sobriety for the addict amidst pressures, stress, triggers, and trauma.
If you, or a loved one are suffering from a cocaine or crack addiction, and ready to get help, please call us now at 1 (866) 445-4137 to speak with a trained counselor about the situation and how we can guide you to find the most effective detox and treatment facility, based on needs, preference, and spiritual belief system. Addiction treatment works, and with more than 14,500 addiction treatment facilities in the US, and only 11% of those in need getting the help they deserve, we strive to make a connection between every addict and the treatment center that will work for him or her. Please don’t wait another day. Call us now, and let us help you find recovery for yourself or your addicted loved one today.