This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Robert Lefever, a world-leading addictions specialist.
Crack is a highly addictive drug that has been around for many years. It is processed from the coca plants. Crack abuse is a big problem in the UK, and the number has been growing steadily. Nowadays, illicit sellers are adopting new ways to trap people into crack addiction. For example, there have been reports of targeted messages and free samples to lure new users.
Drug abuse is a challenging issue in our society, but it can be dealt with with appropriate intervention. A complete treatment plan involves assessment, medical detoxification and rehabilitation. Read on to find out more about crack addiction and what you should do if someone you know is addicted to crack.
What is crack cocaine?
Crack cocaine, or crack, is a conjugate base and the most addictive form of cocaine. It is mainly used as a stimulant drug to produce an intense euphoric high. It is found primarily in small rock crystal-like chunks with off-white colour and rough edges. But, purer forms of crack is found in crystalline form. Sodium bicarbonate or ordinary baking soda is used as a base while preparing crack. Some users argue that the effects are more intense than those experienced from powder cocaine which must be processed in other ways before being used.
Crack became a popular recreational drug because of its euphoric effect. Users are drawn towards it because of its psychological effects. Some of the effects that attract users to crack cocaine are,
- Extreme confidence
- Increase in energy
- Extreme Euphoria,
- Inflated sense of self
- Hyperstimulation, etc.
Crack cocaine in the UK
A recent study conducted by Public Health England and the Home office estimated around 8.5% growth in crack cocaine users in England from 2012 to 2017. Besides aggressive marketing, there is also easy access to crack cocaine than ever before. Furthermore, the growth in the number of crack users is caused because of:
- Availability and affordability: Crack cocaine has never been easier to buy in the UK. The number of sellers is growing and becoming harder to track. The global production of cocaine is also increased significantly. Police effort to fight illicit markets usually fails due to a lack of resources or personnel.
- New user traps: Drug dealers have now started targeting youths towards illegal drugs. There have been reports of targeted messages with offers for free samples to new users. This has become a dangerous trap for many people who end up being with severe crack addiction.
- County line drug trafficking: The number of drug-related cases is also growing in rural areas and smaller towns. It is harder to track because traffickers usually recruit young children and other unsuspecting people.
- Lack of awareness and less stigma related to crack: The study also shows that the sigma regarding crack use has declined. It isn’t clear about what is causing it. Authority suspects, the aggressive marketing of crack and general lack of awareness is the primary cause.
How is crack used?
Crack is generally used by inhaling its vapours into the lungs and throat. For example, users place a chunk of the drug into an aluminium foil-lined pipe and light it with a match or lighter. This will release vapours or fume inhaled into the lungs, making their way to the receptors.
Are crack and cocaine the same?
Crack is the most potent form of cocaine and contains the same addictive ingredients. It also has additives bases like baking soda or vinegar. Crack is found in rock or crystal form, whereas cocaine is in white powder form.
Effects and dangers of Crack?
The dangers of crack abuse and addiction are significant because even a single dose can cause addiction or dependence and trap users. Crack cocaine can lead to many health problems, including heart attack, malnutrition, respiratory complications and even death. In addition, crack withdrawal symptoms include depression or anxiety, intensified by cravings for more cocaine. This leads to the user’s inability to stop taking the drug and lead them to either stealing or turning to crime to provide money for their habit.
The consumption of crack cocaine causes many effects. First, there is more risk of death for some users, as the overdose can happen even with a small dose.
Short-term effects of crack cocaine on users are:
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Narrowed blood vessels
- Increase in body temperature
- Aggression and agitaiton
- Extreme euphoria
- Faster breathing
- Hyper-stimulation and alertness
- Anxiety and depression
- Increased craving for more
- Increased risk of heart attract and stroke
- Loss of appetite and inhibitions
- Hypersexual arousal
- Hallucination, paranoia or psychosis.
Some of the long-term use effects of crack cocaine are:
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Lung damage
- Risk of brain seizures and stroke
- Increased risk of STDs
- Crippling physical and psychological dependence
- Sexual dysfunction and infertility
- Psychological disorders: OCD, schizophrenia, psychosis, personality disorders, etc.
Crack is one of the notorious drugs with extreme side effects and risk of addiction. Thousands of individuals fall into a habit with just one or two usages. The euphoric effect of the first hit quickly transforms into a crippling dependency with ever-increasing tolerance and craving. Crack addiction changes the brain’s neural structure itself by rewiring the pleasure system and stimulus.
Some of the physical symptoms of crack addiction are:
- Oral issues (gum bleeding or recession, tooth decay, etc.)
- Dilated pupils
- Change in appetite
- Change in sleep habits (decrease in sleep)
- Bursts of energy
- Paraphernalia: glass stem, lighters, broken bulbs, etc. (mentioned below)
Some of the psychological and behavioural symptoms of crack addiction are:
- Hallucinations and psychosis
- Unable to concentrate
- Change in sexual drive
- Increased aggression and mood swings
- Increased self-esteem
- Constantly seeking opportunities to use crack
- Attempting to borrow or steal money to buy crack
- Lying about the whereabouts and activities to closed ones
- Engaging in criminal activities, etc.
How to know if someone is using crack?
Some indications of crack abuse can be like, the person frequently disappears to get high, or glass stems or lighters are lying around. Often we can identify crack cocaine users with objects in the environment. For example, what they use for smoking crack and objects to smoke or store the drug.
Some of the paraphernalia associated with crack cocaine is as follows:
- Aluminium cans and foils: If you find aluminium cans with holes and straws align with tin foil, it might have been used for smoking crack. It is also used for other drugs that are smoked similarly.
- Glass bongs or pipes: These are also used for smoking crack. Often referred to as crack pipe, these are glass stem with a glass ball attached at the end. The crack is smoked by placing it inside the ball and heating it with a lighter. After smoking, it leaves a brown residue inside the stem.
- Lightbulbs: If you find lightbulbs without inner parts and a brown residue or burn marks, then it is likely to be used to smoke crack. It works similarly to glass bong or pipes.
- Steel or copper wool: These are used as a filter while smoking through a pipe. Faucets aerators are also used for the same function.
- Pens and straws: These are also used for inhaling the crack fumes, It is heated on the tin foil, and inhaled using the straw.
All these items have brown residue or burn marks on them, which are caused during consumption or crack. So if you often find these items lying around, then chances, they’re consuming crack cocaine.
Like every other addictive substance, crack cocaine has some dangerous withdrawal symptoms that keep users from quitting it. Quitting crack cold turkey is extremely dangerous, and one shouldn’t stop consumption abruptly.
Instead, addicts should contact addiction rehab immediately. Then, under medical supervision, the withdrawal will be managed safely with less risk. It will also be less painful for the users, as experts will administer medication for withdrawal management.
Warning: The withdrawal should never be carried out alone or without the supervision of medical professionals. It can result because fatal and permanent damage. Therefore, we strongly recommend you contact a rehab before quitting crack usage.
What are the treatment options for crack addiction?
With determination and the proper treatment, crack addiction can be defeated. Our trained professionals at Help4addiction use evidence-based methods to treat patients and help to achieve life-long recovery. We have one of the best facilities in England with round the clock care for inpatient rehab and addiction expert guiding your way towards sustainable sobriety.
After committing to the treatment, the first part is a complete medical assessment for the severity of addiction and the risk of withdrawal symptoms. Next, medical professionals will assess and provide the most suitable treatment plan. Comprehensive treatment includes medical detoxification followed by inpatient rehab and aftercare services.
Medical detoxification is the most crucial and risky part of addiction treatment. Depending on the severity of addiction, there will be potential withdrawal symptoms. There can also be the risk of coma or unconsciousness if done abruptly. Our professionals use evidence-based techniques to ensure the safety of patients. The patients will be administered around the clock with the utmost safety in mind. Medical professionals can also prescribe medications to help manage the withdrawals.
There are two types of rehab – inpatient rehab and outpatient rehab. Patients can be recommended to choose inpatient rehab if the addiction is moderate to severe. Staying the rehab is also essential if there is still some risk withdrawal symptoms showing up after detoxification. For those with mild addiction and symptoms, outpatient should be adequate. With an outpatient rehab facility, it is easier for patients to conduct day to day activities.
For both types of rehab, there will be various types of therapeutic treatment available that will help patients prevent relapses and manage cravings. Fighting addiction is a life-long battle. Patients will learn about tools and techniques to help them achieve sustainable sobriety and get back to life.
Crack addiction is a challenging issue, but it doesn’t have to be something that traps someone in their addiction forever. With the proper treatment and support, patients can achieve life-long sobriety. If you’re struggling with crack abuse or addiction, you should seek help from trained professionals. Our doors are always open for those who need help from addiction. Please feel free to contact us today at Help4addiction.
Frequently Asked Question
What are the common street names of crack?
Are crack and heroin the same drugs?
Are crack and cocaine the same?
Can you die from using crack?
Can crack addiction be treated?
- Increase in crack cocaine use inquiry: summary of findings
- Crack use up in England after ‘aggressive marketing.’
- United Kingdom drug situation 2019: Focal Point annual report
- Crack Addiction: 8 Signs Your Loved One Is Using – Cocaine
- Cocaine Abuse & Addiction
- Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms