Crack Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine is a very addictive drug, and crack cocaine is one of its most addictive forms. People who are concerned that a loved one may be addicted to crack should know some of the warning signs, dangers, and treatment options for crack cocaine addiction recovery.


Crack, a rock crystal form of cocaine that can be smoked, is considered a very addictive form of cocaine. Smoking the cocaine causes a fast high that also wears off quickly. Crack affects the chemistry in the brain to cause the high feeling, but this can also alter the user's brain chemistry so the person becomes addicted to the drug and feels like they need more of it. Smoking crack may lead to addiction faster than using other forms of cocaine. Crack can be addictive the first time a person uses it, or even if a person only uses it once in a while.

Warning signs of crack cocaine addiction

Any person that is using crack cocaine may be or can become addicted to it. Some signs of crack cocaine use include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased temperature and heart beat
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pains
  • Lack of appetite, weight loss, and malnourishment
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sexual disfunction
  • Violence
  • Depression mixed with periods of extreme happiness
  • Change in appearance or hygiene
  • Changes in when or how much they sleep

When the person's use has developed into addiction, they may experience other symptoms, like:

  • Tolerance, where they need larger amounts of the drug to get high
  • Spending lots of time thinking about or planning their next high
  • Using crack regardless of the negative effects it has on themselves and the people around them
  • Selling things or borrowing money to buy drugs
  • Illegal behavior like stealing, selling drugs, or trading drugs for sex to get high
  • Losing interest in things they once enjoyed
  • Not feeling normal unless they use crack
  • Feeling like they are not in control of their life

Dangers of crack cocaine addiction

Crack cocaine addiction can cause people to engage in illegal activities to get drugs. It can also lead to heart, respiratory, or nervous system problems, which may be fatal. Some of the side effects of smoking crack can include:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bleeding in the lungs
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Paranoia and hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Problems at work, school, or in relationships
  • STDs or unwanted pregnancy due to trading sex for drugs or having sex while using drugs
  • Getting in trouble with the law

Using crack with other drugs, including alcohol, increases the chases of a fatal reaction.

Treatment for crack cocaine addiction

There is not currently a drug to treat crack cocaine addiction, though researchers hope to find one that may prevent people from craving cocaine or keep cocaine from reaching the brain, thus reducing the desire to use it.

People who have a crack cocaine addiction need treatment to help them stop using the drug. They have to go through detox, which gets the drug out of their system. They may need to be under medical supervision during detox because of the strong cravings withdrawal can cause. Then, they need to be involved in a treatment program to recover from their addiction. This usually means undergoing some type of therapy, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, along with joining a support group to help prevent relapse.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from cocaine addiction, experts recommend that you don't change your life to accommodate their addiction or try to cover for them. Encourage them to get help and express your caring and concern for them, being specific about what worries you. You can also join a support group for people whose loved ones have an addiction or get individual counseling to help you deal with their crack addiction.


National Institute on Drug Abuse, "NIDA InfoFacts: Crack and Cocaine" [online]
Cleveland Clinic, "Cocaine and Crack" [online]
National Drug Intelligence Center, "Crack Cocaine Fast Facts" [online]
U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, MedlinePlus, "Cocaine" [online]

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