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The Effects of Crack Cocaine Abuse

The effects of crack cocaine on the human body are both psychological and physical. The drug’s high is caused by chemicals deep in the brain that control several vital human behaviors, from hunger and sleep to pleasure and heart rate. The way that the drug affects the brain also causes very distinct symptoms that crack cocaine addicts feel immediately and long after they give up the drug. In fact, the intensity of a crack cocaine high is what causes most users to become addicts within two weeks of their first dose. MedicineNet estimates that 5 percent of the people who take crack cocaine for the first time develop a dependence on the drug within two years of that first use.

How Does it Affect the User?

crack-cocaineThe effects of crack cocaine vary from one user to another. According to WebMD, the heaviest crack cocaine users are males between the ages of 18 and 25. However, MedicineNet states that 1.1 percent of pregnant women under the age of 44 used crack cocaine during their pregnancies. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 25 million men and women have admitted to using crack cocaine at least once in the 12 months prior to the survey. Most of those users were experimenting and never took the drug again, according to the survey.

About Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine and powder cocaine are similar substances that have a few distinct differences. Crack cocaine begins as powder cocaine in its purest form. The powder is mixed with baking soda and water to form a hard substance that is known as rock cocaine or crack. Crack cocaine is smoked to achieve a high. Crack cocaine is more potent than its powder counterpart; however, both forms share similar effects, withdrawal symptoms and many signs of abuse. Crack cocaine effects are often more intense because the drug is absorbed more quickly in the body than the powder version.

Crack cocaine enters the body through the smoke that is breathed into the nose, and it goes into the blood stream. It quickly reaches the brain, causing the chemicals norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine to overproduce. These chemicals build up in the brain, causing an intense feeling of extreme pleasure that overtakes the senses and the body. This high takes five to 10 minutes to begin, but it lasts up to 20 minutes. Afterwards, the addict is left craving more of the drug. Interestingly, these are not the only crack cocaine effects; these are symptoms that occur right away, but there are others that are more long-term in nature.

What are Common Short-Term Effects?

The short-term effects of crack cocaine use begin as soon as the crack cocaine is taken. The drug releases chemicals that cause an intense high. These chemicals also speed up the heart rate and pulse so much that arteries are constricted. A person’s energy level increases and appetite is usually lost. The user can’t sleep, and the craving for crack cocaine intensifies. Other crack cocaine effects include:

  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Fever

These short-term effects of crack cocaine continue as the drug makes its way through the system and becomes waste through the kidneys. Once the high is over, the user may experience a second set of short-term effects that include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Intense craving
  • Heightened paranoia
  • Suddenly decreased breathing and heart rate

The crash after the euphoric high comes suddenly. Many users try to make these effects of crack cocaine use easier to handle by using barbiturates or opiates. Some users who take too much crack cocaine use depressant drugs to stop over-stimulation. Depressant drugs bring the body and brain down; however, these drugs may also create another layer to the addiction that needs to be managed during a crack cocaine addiction treatment program.

Effects of Long-Term Abuse

Long-term effects of crack cocaine abuse vary from one user to another. Unlike many other drugs, these effects aren’t related to the frequency of use and the length of time on the drug. The intense effects of crack cocaine can cause lasting symptoms in the body. Fortunately, all of them can be treated. Long-term effects of crack cocaine abuse include:

  • Arterial tearing
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Kidney damage
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Male infertility
  • Psychosis
  • Aggression

These symptoms or effects of crack cocaine can be effectively treated in a drug rehabilitation program. The body must be detoxified of the crack cocaine before true recovery can begin. Contact us to find a good crack cocaine treatment facility to help you or the addict in your life.

Typical Withdrawal Symptoms

teens-withdrawalWithdrawal symptoms are similar to the long-term effects of the drug. The only difference is that the withdrawal symptoms are more intense as the brain adjusts to the crack cocaine leaving the body. In a crack cocaine detox facility, you will receive medical and psychological treatment to ease these symptoms. Antidepressants are often used to combat anxiety and depression, while helping to bring back appetite and normalize sleeping patterns. Anti-seizure medications and treatments for the heart and lungs are also a part of the program. Several types of therapy are available to help a user through the cravings and start the addict on the road to recovery.

Getting the Help You Need

To hear more about your options for stopping a crack cocaine addiction, call us at . We can offer you the support, resources and information required to seek treatment for yourself or the addict in your life. Get help. You don’t have to endure crack cocaine effects on your own; help is available now.

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Take our free, 5-minute substance abuse self-assessment below if you think you or someone you love might be struggling with substance abuse. This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of a substance use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal information is needed to receive the result. Please be aware that this evaluation is not a substitute for advice from a medical doctor.


  • Cocaine comes from the coca bush that still grows today in the Andes mountains of South America.
  • Crack cocaine use was involved in more emergency room visits in 2009 than any other drug.
  • Propranolol is used to curb crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
  • A crack cocaine high lasts up to 20 minutes, but the powder cocaine high can last for over 30 minutes.
  • Cocaine is considered a Schedule II controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. It shares this classification with oxycodone, methamphetamine and Ritalin.
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