Crack cocaine is a highly addictive form of cocaine. Also known as “rock” “base” or simply “crack”, it is a freebase form of cocaine, which means it can be smoked rather than snorted (and it can be injected, as well). Smoke enters the bloodstream and affects the user within about 8 seconds, a much quicker rate than powder cocaine. This method of consumption, as well as its chemistry, make it an especially dangerous drug with a high potential for dependence. Many people still remember the “crack epidemic” of the mid-80s, during which the poor inner cities of Miami, New York and Los Angeles saw crime nearly double due to heavy addiction.
The Effects of Using Crack Cocaine
Crack is known to be a much more powerful form of cocaine, which is already highly addictive in powdered form. It induces a powerful, yet short-lived “rush” of euphoria, as well as:
- Increased impulsivity
- Increased alertness
- Increased energy
- Heightened libido
- Insomnia/lack of sleep
- Intense craving for more cocaine
These effects are caused by a heavy rush of dopamine to the brain. This creates the high that crack cocaine is known for, which generally lasts between 5-10 minutes. After this brief but intense high, users experience a shortage of dopamine. This creates the incentive to use more crack, but the dopamine levels quickly become more and more difficult to replenish. This is the reason that cocaine becomes so addictive in such a short period of time.
Long-Term Consequences of Using Crack Cocaine
- Irregular sleeping habits
- Violent behavior
- Increased risk of cardiac arrest
- Seizures & convulsions
- HIV/AIDS and other blood-borne diseases (if needles are shared)
- Long-term liver problems
- Long-term lung & throat problems (from smoking), a.k.a. “crack lung”
Crack lung is one of the most severe consequences of long-term crack usage. Smoke from crack cocaine constricts blood vessels and prevents oxygen and blood from circulating, which heavily damages the lung. This damage scars the lung and may come with a fever, heavy cough and chest pain.
Crack Cocaine Addiction
Finally, addiction is the most well-known result of crack use. Due to the reasons mentioned above, addiction may form relatively shortly in comparison to other drugs. The effect of crack on brain chemistry makes it extremely difficult to quit without the use of professional help from a treatment center.