In other pages on the Addictive Addiction site, we’ve looked at cocaine, and cocaine addiction. But there are different ways that cocaine can be used, and so we’ll take a look at crack cocaine.
What is crack cocaine? Is crack addictive? These are questions we’ve gotten from our readers. Read on to find out about crack cocaine.
What is Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a free base form of cocaine. To put it in less technical terms, crack is a form of cocaine that will decompose when exposed to elevated temperatures. In other words, it can be smoked.
Crack cocaine, or simply “crack,” is a highly addictive drug which gives the user an intense but short-lived high.
Street Names for Crack Cocaine
As with most drugs, there are lots of street names for crack. A lot of times these names depend on the area of the country. Other times it just depends on the mixture of the drug. Some street names for crack cocaine include:
- Hard rock
That’s, of course, by no means a comprehensive list. And there are more names for crack cocaine drug combinations. For example, when the drug is mixed with PCP or marijuana.
Crack Cocaine Addiction
Crack cocaine is the second most addictive drug, according to several studies. The first is heroin. Crack cocaine was actually shown to be more addictive than powder cocaine, as the substance is delivered more quickly to the brain.
Crack cocaine addiction is quick to develop because the brain develops a tolerance to the drug more quickly than with other drugs. A crack addict needs more and more crack to achieve the same high, and addiction results.
Crack itself works quickly. It’s a stimulant, and when you use crack you’ll feel a burst of energy. But this energy isn’t like using meth or even something like caffeine. Instead, you might feel jittery or twitchy. You’ll feel like your brain is moving at a faster speed. And you’ll probably feel warm or hot.
All this is to say that crack definitely works to make you feel good. But once you crash, you’ll find yourself needing more of the drug. And once you do, it’s very easy to develop an addiction
What Happens when you Smoke Crack?
To understand crack cocaine addiction, you’ll need to know a little bit about how crack works. Cocaine affects neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a buildup of dopamine. Scientists sometimes generalize dopamine as the “reward” chemical in the brain. This isn’t entirely accurate, but it’s sufficient to say that it reflects the pleasure centers in your brain.
Smoking crack will get a user high more quickly than snorting it. It begins to effect the brain in a matter of seconds, as opposed to the powder’s 10-15 minute wait. The high doesn’t usually last long, though. Generally, a user will be high for between 5 to 15 minutes.
Side Effects of Crack Cocaine
The effects of crack cocaine on the body are similar to the effects of powder cocaine. There are both short term effects and long term issues with this drug use.
The first thing that happens when you smoke crack is that you’ll feel energized, with an elevated sensitivity to sounds, sight and feel. Your heart rate will increase and your body temperature will climb. That’s when the jitters begin. Your pupils will be dilated, and if enough crack is used, you may start to become aggressive or paranoid.
There are instances when crack will have a more acute affect. For example, when combined with alcohol, the heart rate can increase so much as to be fatal. Marijuana can also make the effects of crack stronger. Not everyone reacts the same way to the drug. Your experience with crack may vary from the majority; this depends on many physiological factors.
Long term, crack can cause some serious issues. Not least of these is extreme depression and suicidal tendencies. Other long term effects of crack cocaine include seizures, heart attack and heart disease (a major killer of people of all ages), stroke, aggression and respiratory failure.
Prolonged use of crack cocaine can also cause reproductive dysfunction. However, it’s important to note that there’s actually no such thing as a “crack baby.” This was invented in the 1980s. Developmental disabilities in babies whose mothers smoke crack has been found more likely to be caused by postpartum neglect.
Crack Cocaine Withdrawals
As with any drug, if you’re addicted to crack it’s not recommended that you quit without the help of a doctor. Crack cocaine withdrawals will affect your brain just as much as the drug itself, and medical attention is strongly advised.
You’ll begin feeling crack withdrawal almost as soon as that first crash hits. You’ll want more crack, and disallowing yourself the dopamine buildup will cause anxiety, sleepiness, and paranoia.
The difference between crack withdrawal and other drugs is that there are usually no visual signs of an issue. With other substances, like alcohol and heroin, you’ll feel jittery and may be vomiting or have other external symptoms. This isn’t usually the case with crack cocaine withdrawal.
That said, the lack of physical withdrawal symptoms may be all the more reason to seek medical help. A doctor can help guide you through the process of withdrawal. He or she may also be able to direct you to resources which can help keep you off the drug.
How is Crack Different from Cocaine?
Truthfully, there’s little difference between crack and cocaine. To put it very simply, cocaine is the base used to make crack. The cocaine powder is dissolved with water and usually mixed with an ingredient like ammonia or baking soda. It’s boiled and cooled, and the solid that results is crack.
As mentioned, crack cocaine hits your brain faster and harder than the powder form, so while it’s virtually the same substance, crack can be more addictive than its powder counterpart.
Overall, though, crack and cocaine are both made from the coca plant, are both highly addictive drugs, and will both cause serious short- and long term effects.