Crack Cocaine Warning Signs

Crack cocaine use can be very addictive, even deadly. Early treatment and help for crack cocaine addiction is essential. Learn what some symptoms of crack cocaine use are and ways to tell if someone is using crack cocaine even when they aren't high.


Crack cocaine is an addictive and potentially deadly drug that affects people from every walk of life. It is important to know the signs of crack cocaine use and addiction so you can help friends, family members, coworkers, students, or yourself recognize and overcome crack addiction. People who are addicted to crack often have trouble admitting they have a problem, but crack use can lead a person to give up other important things in his or her life, or develop depression and psychological problems, sexually transmitted diseases, or health problems that can be fatal.

Crack cocaine is a stimulant or “upper” that causes a fast high that can also wear off very quickly. Signs that someone may be high on crack cocaine include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessive cheerfulness
  • Talking too much
  • Insomnia, sometimes followed by excessive sleep
  • Lack of interest in food
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • A cough or difficulty breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • Chest pain
  • Convulsions or seizures

Crack affects users even when they are not high on crack. Some symptoms of crack use are:

  • A change in appearance or lack of interest in appearance
  • Avoiding old friends and hanging out with new friends who use crack
  • Weight loss
  • Long periods of not sleeping followed by oversleeping
  • A change in performance in school, at work, or in other activities
  • Withdrawal from others
  • Feelings of depression or suicide
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent urination
  • Irritability
  • Hostile or aggressive behavior
  • Paranoia
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Hearing voices or having hallucinations
  • Other mental illnesses
  • Compulsive behaviors, like picking at skin
  • Craving crack cocaine
  • Needing lots of money to support the crack habit, or having money problems

Crack cocaine can be very addictive, even the first time it is used. People who are addicted to crack may:

  • Use crack often
  • Lie about or hide their use of crack
  • Avoid people in order to use crack, or use crack alone
  • Give up other activities they enjoy
  • Think they need crack to have fun
  • Pressure other to use crack
  • Need more crack to get the same high
  • Not remember what happened while they were using crack
  • Feel depressed or suicidal
  • Not be able to think about anything but using or getting more crack
  • Take risks, especially sexual risks like having unprotected sex or sex with a lot of people
  • Stop caring about other people
  • Get in trouble at school, work, or with the law
  • Drive while under the influence of crack
  • Steal to get money for crack
  • Have sex in exchange for drugs or money

If you or someone you know has these signs and symptoms of crack cocaine use or addiction, seek help right away. Because crack is very addictive and can be deadly, professional treatment is necessary to help crack users overcome their drug problem.


National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information, Tips for Teens: The Truth About Cocaine [online]

County of San Diego, Health and Human Services Agency, FAQ Topic Details: What are the Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine or Crack? [online]

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, Cocaine: Facts Everyone Should Know [online]

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Drug-Free Workplace Advisor, Employee Education: Cocaine [online]

The Dope on Drugs: The Five Categories of Drugs [online]

SAMHSA Health Information Network, NCADI: A Guide for Teens, Does your friend have an alcohol or other drug problem? What can you do to help?

Related Article: Crack Cocaine Treatment Options >>