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Five Signs You Are Addicted to Crack

The Danger of Crack Addiction


Five signs you are addicted to crack

If you’re using crack cocaine, you should not underestimate its potency. Crack is considered to be the most addictive form of cocaine. The New York Times called it “a nearly unbreakable habit.” Dr. Charles P. O’Brien of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine called it “by far the most addictive drug we’ve ever had to deal with.” Despite such an ominous reputation, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported over 467,000 active users in the United States. It is popular both because it provides a more efficient means of ingesting cocaine and because it produces a powerful, but short, high that induces an intense desire among addicts to recapture that experience. This psychological effect is a distinguishing characteristic of crack use. Addiction is rapid, recovery difficult, and relapses likely. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration, crack cocaine has a relapse rate of 84%, which is 29% higher than that of cocaine. Crack was responsible for 178,145 admissions to treatment in 2006, which represented 71% of all cocaine admissions. If you are, or think you are, only an occasional user of crack, it is highly important for you to understand its addictive quality. Read below for some of the signs that you are addicted to crack.

1. Health Defects

The most obvious manifestation of crack addiction is its destructive effect on your body. Some of the most obvious crack addiction symptoms include:

  • Reduced appetite
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Premature aging
  • Insomnia
  • Severe Tooth decay
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage

These effects are caused by the stress crack puts on the body. When crack is smoked, it increases heart rate and blood pressure which will eventually lead to serious cardiovascular problems. Another risk associated with crack use is that often crack will be adulterated, or “cut,” with other substances. Candle wax, baking soda, and macadamia for instance, are sometimes used in combination with crack cocaine as cutting agents and produce a highly toxic smoke when burned. Inhaling such toxic elements will cause scarring and permanent damage to lung tissue. The physical damage caused by crack is highly visible. If you notice any of these effects on your body, your addiction has already started to take a devastating toll.

2. Dependence

The amount of crack that you require in order to get high or even to get through the day is itself a telling sign of whether you are addicted. The draw of crack is not merely psychological. Continued use of the drug rapidly develops into a physical tolerance that demands higher and higher doses in order to get high while effects gradually diminish. Addicted users then face the myriad withdrawal symptoms associated with crack use. At this point, not only are they less able to attain their first euphoric experiences of smoking crack, they are confronted by symptoms such as agitation, stress, depression, and/or sleeplessness unless they continue to smoke. According to the dependence may be characterized by the following traits:

  • Physical tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Inability to reduce dosages

The simplest determinant of dependence is whether you can function adequately without having to smoke crack. Unfortunately, most crack users will have found crack to be readily accessible when they first smoke, especially due to its prevalence and low cost. This ease of access disguises cravings as spontaneous desires to smoke and encourages further use of the drug. Unless you primarily live in an area in which crack is difficult or impossible to find, it is virtually impossible to remain merely a recreational user. The desire to smoke more and more will only increase, not disappear, and your lifestyle will gradually become habituated to the use of the drug.

3. Psychological Effects

There are both short-term and long-term psychological effects of crack use. Many short-term effects are associated with withdrawal symptoms. The onset of these symptoms develops quickly because dopamine levels drop quickly after the initial high. This leaves the user in a depressed and lethargic state. These short-term effects include paranoia, irritability, agitation, or suicidal and homicidal thoughts. These short-term effects are, at first, relieved by continued use of crack, but they can, of course, develop into long-term ones after prolonged use of the drug. In some cases, chronic use can cause severe psychotic episodes, or even total psychosis. According to the DEA, there have been instances in which addicts experience violent hallucinations or completely lose their touch with reality. One notorious and common hallucination is of bugs crawling on their skin, also known as “formication” or “delusional parasitosis.”

4. Negative impact on other areas of life

Crack addiction does not just affect your health, whether physical or psychological, it affects your entire lifestyle. Many addicts encounter deteriorating relationships, whether with respect to their family, work, or school. In part, this is because crack attracts especially those seeking to escape from social pressures. For instance, survey by European Addiction Research indicated that one of the main reasons for use is to escape family conflicts. Turning to crack will only exacerbate social isolation. Crack addiction will require you to spend more and more time getting high or acquiring the resources in order to get high. Furthermore, the psychological symptoms of addiction, such as irritability, irresponsibility, or violent or delusional behavior may alienate friends and family, or even put them at risk.

5. Crime

Crack cocaine is, of course, illegal, but addicts may eventually turn to even more criminal activities if they become the only way one can buy crack. It may seem obvious, but many criminals did not envision the control that crack could potentially have on their life decisions. In 2007, 5477 individuals were convicted of crack-related crimes

Recovery Is Not Impossible

Though difficult, recovery is possible with the right resources. It is often necessary to undergo detoxification which stabilizes the patient’s more acute symptoms such as paranoia, violent behavior, and hallucinations. Because the physical tolerance associated with crack is not as powerful as other drugs, maintenance anti-addictives are usually unnecessary. However, occasionally medications may be required to alleviate acute symptoms. Chronic users may require long-term medication, especially if they are afflicted with mental disorders, whether they are caused by crack addiction or not. Most of the time, however, constant monitoring is the most effective path toward recovery from addiction.


  1. University of Pennsylvania: Charles O’Brien Center for Addiction Treatment
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration