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Written by Amethyst Recovery

Amethyst Recovery is a foremost authority on addiction and a trusted online source of substance abuse information. Their expert team of addiction professionals provide well researched content for people in the grip of addiction. All posts are fact checked and sourced.

Crack, what is it?

Crack-Rehab-Detox-Recovery-Crack cocaine, also just referred to as crack, is a type of cocaine that is smoked most often, although it can also be snorted. Crack creates a short, but very intense high in users. It’s often described as the most addictive type of cocaine available, and it was widely used in urban and inner-city areas in the 1980s.

Crack is still recreationally abused, and it can cause serious, harmful effects on users and crack cocaine addicts. Crack is dangerous on its own, and it’s also often mixed or “cut” with other substances which can range from other drugs to household products or chemicals. Crack use is correlated with trauma such as childhood abuse.

One study
found that, even controlling for demographic factors, childhood abuse was a contributing factor in nearly 60% of crack cocaine use,” according to the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

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What’s it like using crack?

When someone uses crack, it creates a euphoric high, and other symptoms including a false sense of self-confidence, loss of appetite, increased alertness and energy, and intense cravings for more of the drug.

Many people who use crack experience severe psychological side effects including paranoia or psychosis. Crack creates its effects by triggering a surge of dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is a brain chemical that causes feelings of happiness or euphoria. Drugs like crack flood so much of it into the brain that it’s far beyond what would normally be released, thus the high.

An addiction to crack cocaine can form after using the drug only once, and it’s such a dangerous form of cocaine. While crack abuse rates have gone down, it’s still a high-risk substance. Crack addiction rehab and treatment centers have to be specifically experienced in dealing with this type of addiction.

Crack abuse and crack addiction are unique from many other forms of substance abuse.

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Symptoms of crack addiction can include:

  • Unexplained disappearances
  • Spending excessive amounts of money or stealing
  • Changes in behavior
  • A great deal of time is spent trying to obtain more crack
  • Dishonesty
  • Lapses in responsibility
  • Problems with relationships
  • Criminal problems

Over time, there are long-term effects of crack abuse that can occur if someone doesn’t seek rehab or addiction treatment.

How can you tell a loved one is addicted to crack

Some of the physical and outward signs that someone could have a problem with crack that might require inpatient rehab include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • High energy levels
  • Blistered fingertips or lips
  • Increased breathing
  • Wakefulness including at odd times
  • Seeming to have a false or inflated sense of confidence or well-being
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Long-term effects of crack abuse can include:

  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Paranoia or hallucinations
  • Kidney and organ failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Respiratory complications

Signs You Need Treatment for Crack Drug Addiction


Crack is a powerful stimulant drug, and while it was more popular among recreational drug users in the 1980s, it still remains a problem. Crack is an especially potent form of the drug cocaine. When someone uses crack, they can become addicted very quickly.

The drug achieves its main immediate psychological effect—the high—by causing a buildup of the neurochemical dopamine,” according to research from Dr. Eric J. Nestler, published in the Addiction Science & Clinical Practice journal.

According to this publication, one hit of a drug like crack can rewire the brain and give rise to addiction.

It’s almost unheard of for a person to use crack casually. It tends to be a drug that’s all or nothing in terms of addiction. Becoming addicted to crack very quickly is possible and even likely. To stop using it without professional addiction treatment can be difficult.

Signs someone may require professional crack treatment for an addiction problem include:

  • The person is out-of-control regarding their use of crack—essentially it’s a compulsion that they have no control over
  • The person continues using crack even when there are negative physical, social or psychological side effects
  • Someone who needs professional addiction treatment will often try to quit using crack on their own and find that they aren’t successful
  • Crack is a top priority in the life of the person
  • People with addictions to crack and other drugs will often put themselves in dangerous situations to obtain more or to use the drug

So, where do you turn if you think you require professional crack drug treatment? There are many options available.

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How to Get Help for Yourself or Family


Crack is a dangerous and very powerfully addictive version of the stimulant cocaine. When someone uses crack, even just a handful of times, they may become addicted. Crack is a drug that significantly affects dopamine neurotransmitters in the brain. This is why people who use it feel the rush of energy and the euphoric high. However, this flood of dopamine is also why people become so addicted when they use crack.

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