Crack Addiction

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Americans are developing prescription opiate addictions at an alarming rate. The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicated about 1.9 million Americans had a prescription painkillers use disorder. Since it came into popularity in the 1980s, crack has been a major contributor to the drug and addiction epidemic in America. Made from cocaine, crack comes in larger, crystal form and is heated and smoked, rather than snorted. Unlike powder cocaine, crack is very inexpensive. However, similar to cocaine, using this substance can easily lead to crack addictive.

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who have become involved in crack addiction, it’s time to seek out help. Crack addiction is a brain disease and requires medical attention, also known as drug addiction rehabilitation. Crack is notoriously one of the most difficult drugs to recover from using. Seeking out medical and clinical attention from a rehab facility will give you your best shot at living a healthy life that isn't ruled by crack addiction. In recent years, medications have been synthesized expressly to treat opioid addiction through drug replacement therapy. The opioid partial agonist Suboxone is among them. Just like pure opioids themselves, Suboxone can be habit-forming. Read further for additional Suboxone information, including details on the drug’s chemical behavior and abuse potential.
In order to fully understand the depths of crack addiction, it’s important to first address the “What is crack?” question. Crack is a form of the illicit street drug cocaine. While most know cocaine as a white powder, crack is a solid, crystallized form of cocaine. Cocaine is made from the coca plant common in South America. Crack is made from a mixture of cocaine, water and ammonia or baking soda. Abusers smoke pieces of crack, also called rocks, in glass crack pipes.

Crack is often considered a more dangerous drug than coke because smoking the substance delivers a more immediate and intense high than snorting coke. Crack is also more potent than coke because it’s made from pure cocaine, also commonly called freebase. The coke that most abusers end up snorting is diluted cocaine, often cut with sugar, flour, caffeine, boric acid, laundry detergent or creatine.

Using this substance can easily lead to crack addiction, and those who are addicted to the substance are often referred to as “crackheads.” Crack abuse was a huge national concern in the 1980s during the height of its usage. It also became a public health concern because many feared the results of prenatal cocaine exposure in unborn children. Referred to as “crack babies,” many children were born with birth defects.

Although crack abuse is waning, today the drug is still considered a threat to American sobriety because of its wide availability and cheap prices. Crack addiction is notoriously difficult to recover from and many who become addicted to the drug are unable to detox and recovery without the assistance of addiction professionals and rehab facilities.

Crack is tan, yellow, light pink or white and looks like small rocks or chunks or chips of crystal. Some describe crack as similar in appearance to rock candy. The drug is opaque. When purchased from a drug dealer, crack often comes tied up in a small plastic bag. Crack is smoked; when the crystals are heated, they emit smoke that can be inhaled.

Crack is made of a mixture of powder cocaine, water and baking soda or ammonia. To make crack, drug chemists dissolve powder cocaine in warm water. Then they add ammonia or dissolve baking soda in the mixture. The mixture is then boiled until a solid separates from the liquid base. Next, the solution is cooled so it can be separated using a strainer or coffee filter. The crack solids are dried further and broken up into smaller rocks to sell.

Crack rocks normally range from .1 – .5 grams in size. A typical batch of crack will contain anywhere from 75 – 90 percent pure cocaine. Crack is smoked in glass pipes that are typically five or six inches long. Some crack pipes have small round bulbs at the end, where the rock is inserted. In other cases, crack pipes have a small cup or bulb on top of the pipe where the rock is inserted, with a flat end. Abusers use a lighter to heat the crack, which often causes the pipe to turn dark brown or black where it was in contact with the lighter.

crack cocaine in baggie
Crack is a notorious illicit drug with no medicinal value, so it can only be found one place — on the streets. Just like in the movies, abusers, drug dealers and distributors often use slang or nicknames for crack to evade police or loved ones’ attention. In and of itself, crack is also a street name, as it is a type of cocaine. If you hear a loved one mentioning crack or one of these names as they talk with friends or on the phone, they may be in the grips of crack addiction or abuse:
Apple jacks
Baby T
Crunch & munch
Devil drug
Electric kool-aid
Fat bags
French fries
Garbage rock
Hard ball
Hard rock
Ice cubes
Jelly beans
Rock or rocks
Rock star
Snow coke
Sugar block
Unlike powder cocaine, which is snorted, crack cocaine is smoked. To consume this drug, abusers place pieces of crystallized crack cocaine, also called rocks, into a glass pipe. Crack pipes are typically short, maybe five or six inches long, with a small glass bulb at the end. To smoke crack, abusers hold a lighter below the bulb of the pipe to heat the rocks. Once heated, the rocks give off a vapor that can be inhaled. Smoking crack produces a very quick high that starts within 10 – 15 seconds of inhalation. Crack earned its name because, when heated, the cocaine crystals make a cracking or popping noise.
Like with many other substances of abuse, crack addiction occurs because the substance targets the “feel good” chemical in the brain, dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that, when triggered, is responsible for pleasure signals including: Attention, Behavior, Memory, Mood and emotions, Motivation, Movement and Reward.

Normally, dopamine attaches to dopamine receptors to signal reward and pleasure. Eventually, a dopamine transporter comes to remove dopamine from the receptor, and these happy feelings subside. When a person uses crack, it attaches to the dopamine transporter and blocks it from removing dopamine, causing a buildup of dopamine and the intense feelings of euphoria associated with a crack high. When the high wears off, the abuser may feel irritable, drowsy and lethargic. This association of pleasure and crack will become an unstoppable force in a person’s life — causing them to use crack again and again, eventually leading to tolerance, dependence and crack addiction.

When a person needs to take more and more crack to experience the same level of high, they are building up a tolerance for the drug. If they stop smoking crack and begin feeling withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, their body is dependent on the drug. Eventually, if the person continues using crack, they will develop cravings for crack and keep using the drug despite experiencing negative side effects — hallmark signs of crack addiction. It may take different people varying lengths of time before they develop a crack addiction. For some, it is possible to begin the path to crack addiction after just one use of the drug. Traits that can influence the length of time it takes to develop crack addiction include:

  • Personal history of substance abuse or addiction (such as crack addiction)
  • Family history of substance abuse or addiction (such as crack addiction)
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Dosage
  • Concurrent drug or alcohol abuse

To avoid developing a crack addiction it’s best to stay away from the drug entirely. Crack addiction is a medical disease and, although there is treatment, recovery from crack addiction is one of the hardest to maintain. Undergoing crack addiction treatment in an accredited rehab facility is your best chance at recovery. Detoxing from crack is also notoriously difficult, however, doctors at a medical detox facility or rehab center may be able to use withdrawal medications to soothe your symptoms. During rehab, abusers will learn to manage cravings and handle triggers that can spur relapse, or a return to crack use after becoming sober.

Since its development, scientists and researchers have tracked crack’s effect on American health. In 2015, roughly 7,000 people died from an overdose on cocaine. Other statistics about crack addiction include:

  • According to data from 2010, 23 percent of eighth graders, 32 percent of tenth graders and 45 percent of 12th graders believe crack is “fairly easy” or “very easy” to get.
  • Legal consequences for crack possession are harsher than those for powder cocaine possession. Those found in possession of 28 grams of crack will get a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. To get the same sentence with powder cocaine, a person would have to be found in possession of 500 grams.
  • Crack abusers can feel the effects of the drug 10 – 15 seconds after smoking it.
  • According to crack and cocaine overdose data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, men are significantly more likely to die from abusing the substances than women. In many cases, men’s cocaine overdose deaths doubled those of women.
Addiction Blog. “Can You Get Addicted to Crack?”, 17 Oct. 2014, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Center for Substance Abuse Research. “Crack Cocaine.” CESAR, The University of Maryland, 29 Oct. 2013, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. “Street Names for Crack Cocaine.”, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. “Crack Facts – History of Crack.” Crack Myths, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, 2006, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Drug Policy Alliance. “Cocaine and Crack Facts.” Drug Policy Alliance, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Foundation for a Drug-Free World. “What is Crack Cocaine?” Foundation for a Drug-Free World, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
In The Know Zone. “Street Names.” In The Know Zone, Education Specialty Publishing, LLC, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Mandal, Ananya. “Dopamine Functions.”, AZO Network, 27 Oct. 2015, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “How Does Cocaine Produce Its Effects?” NIDA, National Institutes of Health, May 2016, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Overdose Death Rates.” NIDA, National Institutes of Health, Jan. 2017, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
Watson, Stephanie. “How Crack Cocaine Works.” HowStuffWorks, InfoSpace Holdings LLC, Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.

Crack Addiction
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Crack Addiction was last modified: February 2nd, 2018 by The Recovery Village