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Why People Turn to Crack and How to Avoid Crack Addiction


Why people turn to crack and how to avoid crack addiction

Cocaine in its powdered form became extremely popular in the United States during the 1970s, having become a trendy and commonly used drug among the upwardly mobile. Cocaine was relatively expensive and therefore difficult for most people to afford. A lower-cost form of the drug became available in that decade, that alternative was termed “crack”. The use of crack cocaine grew greatly in the 1980s, bringing about a host of social problems. The addiction-epidemic along with a variety of attendant social ills (such as violent crime and prenatal cocaine exposure) were largely concentrated in urban areas. Today, crack addiction is still widespread in low-income communities.

The Addictive Nature of Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is a powerful stimulant that brings about feelings of strength and alertness in users;these feelings are accompanied by a powerful euphoria. Crack produces these feelings by increasing the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Cocaine is also responsible for lifting levels of two other neurotransmitters: norepinephrine and serotonin. Norepinephrine produces alertness in preparation for action, the heart rate of the individual is increased as is their blood pressure. Serotonin regulates mood and appetite as well as sleep in addition to other important behaviors. Crack’s effects occur within seconds of smoking the drug, unlike other methods of cocaine-use such as snorting it. The high it produces lasts roughly 15 minutes and is followed by feelings of discomfort and agitation. It is the effort to prevent those feelings and to regain the initial high that compels users to keep taking the drug. There is presently a 26.3 percent chance that an individual in the United States will develop some form of substance abuse disorder during their life with cocaine being one of the more common substances to which individuals become addicted.

Facts About Crack Addiction

Despite crack’s powerful ability to alter mood and to produce a high, it does not have the same long-term effects on all who use it. Not everyone who tries crack becomes addicted to it. There are certain factors that determine whether those who try the drug keep using it. For example, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) showed that:

  • In 2005, 872,000 people over the age of 12 tried cocaine for the first time.
  • Slightly more than three-quarters of those who had tried crack had stopped using it within two years of their initial trial of the drug. Other research has shown that people with jobs and families who have developed coping-skills and who have a variety of options for getting pleasure, tend to be better at avoiding addiction than those who lack those qualities. Of the remainder, 15 percent were still occasional crack smokers, but not consistent users to a level that would indicate addiction.
  • The majority of cocaine users were over the age of 18 when they first tried using the drug.
  • In 2005 there were over two million users of cocaine in the United States.

Factors that Cause Crack Addiction

It is undeniable that socioeconomic circumstances are among the forces that compel individuals to try crack. Epidemics of crack cocaine usage have historically occurred in poor, mostly black or Hispanic neighborhoods in the inner city. Crack cocaine first began to show up in low-income black and Hispanic communities in the mid-1980s. Later on in that decade, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) would find that more blacks and Hispanics were using crack cocaine than whites. In more recent years, it has been found that the users of the drug are more likely to be white, male and poor. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported similar findings in that crack use has increased among the white population while staying the same among Hispanics and actually decreasing among blacks.

Crack is a more affordable form of cocaine, and therefore more accessible to those with low-incomes. However, it should be noted that socioeconomic factors are not the only indicators of the likelihood of usage. It has been shown that having an income raised the likelihood of experimentation with drugs (including crack) though it lowered the likelihood of addiction.

Risk Factors for Initial Drug Abuse

The risk of starting drug use involves a number of factors and how they work together in an individual’s life. Things like a child’s age may determine which factors place them at greater risk of developing an addiction to crack cocaine. The risk factors include:

  • The lack of parental protection and supervision.
  • Individuals within the family who use drugs.
  • Peers who use drugs.
  • Being male. The majority of crack users are male. A 1993 study showed that almost 60 percent of those addicted to crack are men, indicating that gender influences the risk of addiction.
  • Mental or behavioral conditions such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.
  • Low self-esteem and the inability to connect with others socially.
  • Ease of access to drugs.

Overcoming Crack Addiction

It is often difficult for those who have never been addicted to fathom how or why others are compelled to take drugs. The presumption is often made that drug addicts continue their use of drugs because they lack the willpower to quit. The truth is that addiction to drugs like crack cocaine is very difficult to overcome and requires more than just willpower. Consider the fact that some users can and do become addicted after trying it only once. The most important factor in drug addiction avoidance is an understanding of the consequences. It has been shown that individuals who understand the harm inherent in drug abuse are less likely to start using drugs. Ensuring that those who are at risk are aware of the potential problems of drug abuse can help them to avoid becoming addicted.

Fortunately, medical science has made great strides when it comes to understanding how addiction works and the changes that drugs can make in the brain. There are crack addiction recovery programs that can effectively treat drug addicts so that they can quit drugs and move on with their lives. Research has shown that effective crack addiction treatment involves factors such as:

  • Treating the symptoms of withdrawal, these can involve depression and anxiety along with a range of other mood disorders.
  • Prevention of relapse via various methods including medications that have been developed for the purpose.
  • Helping the patient to adjust to life without the drug and to focus on therapy.