How to identify and treat crack addiction and abuse

Wondering if someone you know is addicted to crack? Learning how to identify crack addiction and abuse is the first step to getting a loved one treatment. Crack is a highly addictive, extremely dangerous form of cocaine. Smoking crack causes a short, immediately intense high that is followed by a crash that leaves users with withdrawal symptoms that induce an intense craving for the drug that is only relived with another dose. This system of immediate reward combined with the pangs of withdrawal can create a severe addiction to crack cocaine in a very short time. When left unchecked, crack addiction and abuse can destroy virtually every aspect of users’ lives, damaging their financial, emotional, and physical well-being.

Symptoms of crack addiction

Crack addicts symptoms include certain physical and behavioral changes that become obvious over time. Addiction to crack cocaine takes a heavy toll on users’ mental, physical, and emotional well-being. When these symptoms are severe enough, as in cases of crack cocaine overdose, they can cause users to experience a stroke, heart attack, or even death. Crack addiction causes users to prematurely age, in a fast and dramatic fashion. Crack addicts may begin to display some or all of the following physical signs of crack addiction:

  • Excessive weight loss
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Tremors
  • Slurred speech
  • Incoherent raving or rambling
  • Small burns on their lips and fingers
  • Dilated pupils
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating

Behavioral signs of crack addiction include:

  • Violent outbursts
  • Aggression or rage
  • Severe mood swings
  • Lying
  • Stealing
  • Lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Abandonment of school, work, and personal relationships

Effects of crack addiction

Once a user’s abuse of crack begins to progress to outright addiction, there are certain crack drug effects that become noticeable. When users smoke cocaine in crack form, their muscles tense up, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure elevates, and their heart beat speeds up dramatically. After only a few months of habitual use, crack addicts’ heart, lungs, and brains display signs of deterioration. Addicts begin to find it hard to pay attention to details and their judgement about what is normal or acceptable begins to deteriorate. As a result of the effects of crack addiction, users become careless about concealing their drug abuse. Crack addicts may begin to leave small plastic bags in their rooms, car, deposited in trash or in their clothes. These bags may contain tiny, off-white rocks of crack cocaine or just the white powdery residue of the drug. You may find the small metal or glass pipes used to smoke crack cocaine tucked away in users’ clothing, hidden near ashtrays, or eventually simply left on tabletops in plain view.

How to get off crack

As scores of concerned parents and families can tell you, the hardest part of helping a loved one recover from crack addiction may not be figuring out how to get off crack, but discovering how to get addicts to admit they have a problem. It can be helpful to have family members come together to urge a loved one to seek treatment.

There is no medication at present to treat crack addiction. Because crack addiction is such a complex issue, a stay at an inpatient addiction rehab center that utilizes a variety of behavioral therapies offers the best chance at preventing relapse. The best success has been found using a combination of contingency management therapy, which helps recovering addicts abstain from drug use, and cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps develop coping skills and strategies to avoid triggers. Aftercare treatment through a twelve-step group and a possible stay at a sober living community can help recovering addicts stay off crack and achieve long-term recovery.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.