April 27, 2015
Ever since it first appeared on the scene in the 1980s, crack cocaine has been a nationwide epidemic due, for the most part, to the speed with which an individual that consumes crack cocaine can become dependent. Whether or not crack is a physically addictive substance in the way that opiates are addictive has been hotly debated and is the subject of much contention among addiction and substance abuse professionals; however, smoking the freebase form of cocaine, which has been called “crack” due to the popping noise it makes when smoked, gives users an intense, short-lived high that’s followed by an equally intense low during which the individual will immediately begin to crave more crack in order to sustain the high. This is one of the characteristics of the abuse of crack cocaine that makes it so dangerous; the “crash” leads to powerful cravings for more of the drug, causing users to go to great lengths in order to procure more of the drug.
With the crack epidemic still being a concern nationwide, it’s important for individuals to be educated in the effects and dangers of smoking crack as well as how to recover from dependence to crack cocaine. It’s a drug that can create powerful urges that can take hold of users on a profound level, causing them to put themselves in danger not on due to the actual drug consumption, but also due to the situations those who smoke crack put themselves into in order to obtain more of the drug. Here are some of the dangers of smoking crack and how individuals who have an addiction or dependence on crack cocaine can regain their sobriety through programs at Ocean Breeze Recovery.
Psychological Dependence to Crack Cocaine
A trait that’s unique to crack cocaine relative to other types of drugs like opiates and hallucinogens is that it’s not typically considered physically addictive. A smokable form of the stimulant cocaine, the addiction experienced by individuals who smoke crack experience isn’t a physical dependence to the drug, but rather a psychological addiction due to the drug’s ability to provide an intense high.
Studies have actually found that only between 10 and 20 percent of individuals who smoke crack regularly can be considered addicted; the low rate of crack addiction is due to the majority of users have other activities in which they can engage that provide them with pleasure, whether that entails a preference for some other substance or a more healthy, productive activity that doesn’t involve substance abuse. In fact, this is thought to be why smoking crack became most common in impoverished urban areas where individuals couldn’t afford or had no access to other means of pleasure and purpose.
However, since crack cocaine isn’t considered physically addictive, individuals who attend an addiction treatment program for the abuse of crack cocaine are generally able to skip the detox period since there are no physical withdrawal symptoms when an individual suddenly ceases their crack consumption. Instead of a detox phase, many times individuals who have entered treatment for crack abuse will sleep for several days since smoking crack often leads to “binges” where the crack will keep them from sleeping for several consecutive days. On the other hand, relapse tends to be most common among addicts who have recovered from dependence on crack cocaine since the drug has such an intense effect on the brain and an individual’s psychology.
Effects of Smoking Crack Cocaine
Since crack is the freebase form of cocaine, smoking crack produces many of the effects for which cocaine is known, but in shorter and more intense bursts. As a stimulant, crack cocaine increases the user’s heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and causes contracted blood vessels throughout the body. Immediately upon smoking crack, the user will experience a marked increase in alertness that diminishes any need for sleep for quite some time after consumption as well as a loss of appetite, occasionally erratic or bizarre behavior, paranoia and anxiety, hyperexcitability, and an increased rate of breathing. Visually, individuals who have just smoked crack will have large, dilated pupils and will oftentimes be sweating due to increased body temperature.
There are also a number of long-term effects that smoking crack has been known to cause. Due to its strong effect on blood pressure and heart rate, individuals who smoke crack are at increased risk of damage to the blood vessels throughout the body, but particularly those in the brain and ears, which can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and even death. Smoking crack cocaine has also caused damage to the liver, kidneys, and lungs while putting individuals at risk for conditions like sexual dysfunction or damage to reproductive organs, malnutrition, respiratory failure, severe tooth decay, depression and other mood disturbances, disorientation, severe chest pains, hallucinations and psychosis, and much more.
Getting Help for Crack Dependence at Ocean Breeze Recovery
Since there are no physical withdrawal symptoms that occur during treatment for crack addiction, many individuals have attempted to kick the addiction on their own without the help of a rehabilitation program; however, as crack cocaine is an intense drug with intense effects, the most success will be had by participating in a more intensive recovery program. An inpatient or residential treatment program that removes the individual from circumstances that allowed the addiction to develop and flourish is an important part of the process of recovery, allowing an individual to concentrate on their rehabilitation without temptation to relapse. During this time, individuals will receive an addiction education with which they can identify their addiction triggers so those triggers can be avoided once they return home after completion of the inpatient program.
Treatment programs are a great ways for recovering addicts to foster a sense of fellowship and community with other individuals in recovery. The community of individuals in recovery is a key component to treatment of crack addiction as it provides a strong, extensive support network throughout the recovery process. There are also a number of 12-step and support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which provide individuals with a network of other experienced recovered addicts who can help those individuals in the process of rehabilitation come to terms with their addiction, work to overcome it, and sustain their sobriety.
If you or a loved one is addicted to crack cocaine or some other substance, contact us at Ocean Breeze Recovery today. Overcoming crack addictions is not easy, but we can provide the tools needed to get clean and remain sober through treatment, aftercare, and beyond.