Whether through television, movies, or music, we’ve all heard of it, but exactly what is crack cocaine, and what are the effects of crack on both individual and society? To determine its makeup, its symptoms, and its effects, we first have to look at a bit of drug history. Cocaine, long used both medically and illicitly, has always been considered a rich-man’s drug for its high prices. In the early 1980s, crack sought to close the divide between rich and poor and make available to lower-income individuals a powerfully addictive drug. In so doing, however, the crack market proved irresistible to regular drug users and new entrants as well. This meant that both addict and schoolchild alike were now at risk of crack addiction because its cost was so low. The problem? With time, users became addicted, and the increased amounts needed because of diminishing returns made crack a much more expensive – and dangerous – endeavor than ever imagined.

The Use and Side Effects of Crack

Where cocaine is most commonly insufflated (snorted), the devastating effects of crack are linked to its preferred manner of use: freebasing (smoking). Furthermore, where cocaine usually comes in powder form, crack comes in crystals (rocks). This is on account of the process by which cocaine is chemically altered to become crack, which involves mixing cocaine with a base such as household baking soda and later cooking it. Doing so allows the sodium bicarbonate in crack to react with the hydrochloride in cocaine, creating an oily substance necessitating its formation intro a crack rock. This new substance produces a stronger high on account of its high potency (higher than even traditional cocaine) and its method of delivery. Smoking crack allows the drug to reach the brain more quickly, bringing with it a more intense and pronounced high.

In the short term, while crack triggers the release of dopamine, thus inducing euphoria, it can cause paranoia, sleeplessness, restlessness, anxiety, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and upon coming down from a high, depression. In the long term, the symptoms and side effects of crack cocaine use are much more pronounced. They include:

  • Blood vessel constriction
  • Increasingly violent behavior
  • Permanent scarring and damage to the lungs
  • Cardiac arrest
  • A high likelihood of addiction, particularly when considering that crack cocaine is thought by many to be the most addictive form of cocaine

The Need for Crack Rehab

The years of corrosive damage that crack may level upon an individual and his family make the need for crack rehab about as absolute a certainty as you’ll find in the addiction treatment world. Crack addiction takes hold of an individual in a manner that may require not only the aid of a certified addiction professional, but admission into a detox facility as well in order to better manage the realities of withdrawal from crack. Such detox may be necessary because the symptoms of crack withdrawal can range from chest pains and psychosis to the threat of physical harm to oneself.

If you or a loved one is suffering from the effects of crack addiction, take care to consider the need for crack cocaine addiction treatment. It will prove invaluable in loosening the grip that crack cocaine has on both you and your family. And the next time someone asks you, “What is crack cocaine?” take the time to explain how truly damaging this drug can be. Doing so may deter yet another at-risk individual from considering its use, which is no small victory in the fight against addiction.