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Crack Addiction – Effects, Help, and Treatment

Crack cocaine, or simply crack as it is also known, is the crystallised version of cocaine; it looks like small rocks or lumps. Crack cocaine gets its name from the fact that it crackles when it is burnt. Crack is a very powerful drug and one that is highly addictive. It makes the user feel euphoric and alert and speeds up various bodily functions. Those who take crack will feel confident and arrogant. The substance is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, meaning that the effects are felt almost instantaneously. However, these effects do not last for long. Once they wear off, the user may be tempted to take the drug again to reproduce the desired feelings. It is easy to get hooked on this drug because it is one of the most addictive drugs available on the market. Many people all over the UK struggle every day with crack addiction.

Signs of a Crack Addiction

It is rare for someone to be a recreational user of crack cocaine in the way that they can be for powder cocaine. The powerful nature of crack means that those who take it tend to get addicted very quickly. Individuals who take crack will experience extreme highs where they may notice that colours become more vivid and sounds become more intense.

Once the effects of the drug wear off, the user may begin to feel paranoid, agitated and restless, thus prompting him or her to take more of the drug to alleviate these feelings. The more the person takes, the more likely he or she is to develop a tolerance to the substance, until a point when physical dependence occurs.

It is never easy to know for sure if someone you love is abusing a particular drug unless you already know they are taking it. There are certain signs that indicate an addiction, but you may not know exactly what a loved one is abusing. Addicts often hide their substance abuse from friends and family members. They may be ashamed of what they are doing and will know deep down that their loved ones would be disappointed if they knew the truth. Others do not want their friends and family to know because they fear they will have to stop taking.

If you are worried about the changing behaviour of someone you love and have concerns that he or she may be abusing drugs, you can look for certain tell-tale signs.

Those who are addicted to crack may suffer from insomnia, rapid heart rate and dilated pupils. You may notice that your loved one does not seem to have the same appetite as before, and you may also notice weight loss. Nosebleeds are also common among those who take crack cocaine.

The physical symptoms described above, do not necessarily indicate a crack addiction, but when coupled with certain behavioural symptoms, you may have cause for concern. Extreme mood swings are common, with crack addicts often appearing restless and agitated before disappearing and returning in a completely different mood. If your loved one is switching from depression to euphoria in a short space of time, you may be right to be concerned about a crack cocaine addiction.

Crack addicts often display aggression or become violent. They tend to be arrogant and sometimes over-confident. You may also notice that he or she suffers from hallucinations or paranoid delusions.

Do You Have a Crack Addiction?

If you are abusing crack and are worried about addiction, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you regularly smoke crack?
  • Do you have obsessive thoughts about crack when you are not using it?
  • Do you suffer from extreme mood swings?
  • Do you smoke crack despite knowing that doing so will cause negative consequences?
  • Do you feel that you have no control over your crack use?
  • Do you need to smoke more crack than before to get the same high?
  • Do you find that you cannot stop, even if you want to?
  • Are you neglecting other responsibilities in your life in favour of smoking crack?
  • Are certain areas of your life suffering because of your crack use – i.e. your relationships, finances, work performance?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then it looks as though you could be in trouble.

The Effects of a Crack Addiction

Crack abusers are risking a number of health issues, both mentally and physically. Besides the danger of addiction to the drug, there are many short- and long-term health consequences. Short-term effects of crack include nausea, high blood pressure, raised temperature, rapid heart rate, breathing problems, seizures, hallucinations, paranoia, panic attacks, and anxiety. Any of these side effects can occur after just one instance of crack abuse.

Those who are long-term abusers of crack are risking cardiovascular problems such as damaged vessels, strokes and heart attacks. Crack addicts often suffer from oral problems including tooth decay and gum disease; they may also suffer from damaged lips. Mental health problems include depression, chronic anxiety, confusion, psychosis and cognitive decline.

Addiction to crack causes a number of other problems too. Those who have become addicted to this drug may find that it begins to consume them. They will become obsessed with it, and nothing else in their life will matter. All the affected person will care about is how and when they will get their next fix. If that means they need to lie and steal, then that is what they will do.

Cravings for crack are very intense, and those who are affected find it almost impossible to resist. This can have a detrimental effect on the individual and his or her family.

Addiction and the Family

Addiction is known as a family illness, and a crack addiction can be particularly devastating in this sense. Those who are living with, or who have lived with, a crack addict will know first-hand of the devastation and destruction this illness can cause. They will have experienced the many broken promises along with the frustration and hurt while watching their loved one continue to abuse the drug again and again.

A crack addiction is notoriously difficult to overcome, but it is not impossible. Nevertheless, family members may find that their loved one is unwilling to get help. This can lead to the breakdown of relationships as well as financial hardship. It may also be the case that family members are affected both mentally and physically too, with some suffering with stress and depression. Children, in particular, can be deeply affected by one family member’s crack addiction. Many kids suffer emotional problems that continue into adulthood, and some will even go on to develop addictions themselves.

Treatment for Addiction

The first step to overcoming a crack addiction is detoxification. Detoxing from crack can result in a number of withdrawal symptoms, so it is important that this is done under the careful supervision of a medical professional.

Crack detox is typically followed by a programme of rehabilitation, which may be in a residential clinic or through an outpatient programme. Detox is not the same as treatment – it is just the first step in the process. In order to conquer a crack addiction, it is necessary to undergo a series of counselling and therapy sessions designed to help patients identify the cause of their addictive behaviour and to help them to learn how to avoid this in the future.

Here at Recovery.org.uk, we work with an extensive network of treatment providers in the UK and overseas. We provide free, confidential assessments to clients to give them a clearer picture of what they are dealing with and will recommend a suitable provider based on the individual needs of the patient. Our aim is to help those with crack addictions access the treatments that will enable them to overcome their illness and go on to live healthy and happy sober lives.

If you or a loved one has been affected by a crack addiction, contact us here at Recovery.org.uk. Getting treatment as soon as possible will give you the best chance of long-term success, and we are here to help you find an organisation where you will feel safe and comfortable.

The organisations we work with believe in a patient-centred approach and understand that every patient has different needs. Therefore, a specifically tailored plan will be created designed with the individual in mind. For more information on our free referral service, call us today.