People use stimulants for a number of reasons. They can easily become addicted to the euphoria, their inflated self-esteem, and the high-energy levels. They might like the version of themselves that is talkative and the life of the party. They might need to stay alert for a job or to study. One of the most common illegal stimulants is known as cocaine. Cocaine comes in white powder or rock form, and it’s sometimes referred to as coke or snow. Cocaine accelerates physiological activity, and it’s often mixed with other substances, like alcohol or heroin, that can make it even more dangerous.

A common form of processed cocaine is known as crack. Crack looks like small, hard pieces of soap, and it’s a popularly abused substance because it reaches the brain very fast. People can feel the high from crack in as little as ten seconds, but this euphoria only lasts for usually 5-10 minutes. Also, it takes more of the drug to get the same high over time, and it produces a crash soon after that initiates additional craving. 

Why are crack and cocaine so addictive? Though the drug activates the brain’s pleasure center, making a euphoric high, it’s the low experienced after use that also promotes addiction. People experience an intense withdrawal after use, and they may find they’re unable to experience pleasure in things they once loved. Because they can’t find pleasure in other things, users are tempted to abuse cocaine or crack once again.


Signs of Cocaine or Crack Use

  • changes in sleep
  • mood swings
  • dilated pupils
  • increased heart rate
  • paranoia
  • weight loss
  • runny nose
  • poor hygiene

People using crack or cocaine can also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed. They may also lie about their activities, ask to borrow money, or frequently miss work or school.

Consequences of Cocaine or Crack Use

  • irregular heart beat
  • depression
  • stroke
  • heart attack
  • abdominal pain
  • chronic fatigue
  • sexual problems
  • seizures
  • death

Using drugs can also lead to financial, legal, and relationship problems because of the lengths a person goes to in order to obtain the drug. No part of life will remain untouched by the drug.


Treatment for Cocaine Use Disorder

If you are a loved one are using crack or cocaine, help is available. Detoxification is the first step, and it may require medical intervention to help with the symptoms of withdrawal. So if you’re planning to quit, please see a doctor immediately, and be honest about any unsafe behavior that accompanied the cocaine or crack use, such as needle sharing, unsafe sex, other drug use, etc. A person may feel tempted to minimize their addiction and their behaviors, but they get the best help when they give the best information to medical and mental health professionals.

If you have a friend or family member who uses crack or cocaine, try not to enable the drug use. Be honest with them about how the behavior is impacting their life and the lives of others. Above all, never feel that it is your responsibility alone to help them. Encourage your loved one to speak with a doctor or a counselor about treatment recommendations.

Treatment recommendations may include inpatient or outpatient treatment options, depending on the needs of the individual. To give full-time focus to recovery, a person may benefit from the structure and attention of residential treatment center, which offers 24-hour supervision, individual and group counseling, and medical care. Outpatient treatment may also offer individual and group therapy, but it allows an individual to return to their daily routine while working towards recovery.

During treatment, mental health professionals may help someone gain insight as to whether their drug use is self-medicating another mental health problem. Known as a co-occurring disorder, the combination of substance use and mental illness offers unique challenges to the individual. By treating their substance use as well as symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other mental illness, a person reduces their risk for relapse in the future.

If you or a loved one wants to stop using cocaine or crack, remember that stopping isn’t simply a matter of will power. Drugs trigger powerful processes in the brain, and releasing their grip takes time, patience, and a team of support. What steps can you take today to move towards recovery and live a happy, healthy, and drug-free life? Who can you recruit to help you on the journey? 

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2018