Crack cocaine addiction impacts the long-term health of thousands of Americans each year. Treatment at a rehab facility is often the first step to recovery.
Crack Addiction Overview
- Crack is a form of the illicit street drug cocaine, made from a mixture of cocaine, water and ammonia or baking soda.
- Crack has a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.
- People addicted to crack cocaine can experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms if they stop and long-term effects, including organ damage and hallucinations.
- Treatment for crack addiction is available at licensed rehab facilities and includes a medically supervised detox and inpatient treatment.
What Is Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is a type of cocaine that has been processed slightly differently than its powdered counterpart. Crack cocaine is made by boiling powdered cocaine and sodium bicarbonate, the ingredient in baking soda. The mixture forms a paste that is dried and cut into rocks, which are sold. Because of the cheap additive sodium bicarbonate, crack cocaine is often cheaper than powdered cocaine.
Why Is Crack Addictive?
Although crack abuse is waning slightly, the drug is still considered a threat to Americans’ health because of its wide availability and low price.
Like with many other substances of abuse, crack addiction occurs because the substance targets the “feel good” chemical in the brain, dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that, when triggered, is involved in:
- Body movement
Usually, dopamine attaches to certain receptors in the brain to signal reward and pleasure. Eventually, a dopamine transporter removes dopamine from the receptor, and these positive feelings subside. When a person uses crack, the crack 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 individual may feel irritable, drowsy and lethargic. To avoid dealing with these feelings, someone may continue to use crack to keep the happy feeling.
This association of pleasure and crack becomes an unstoppable force in a person’s life — causing them to use crack repeatedly, eventually leading to tolerance, dependence and crack addiction.
Other Slang Terms for Crack
Crack slang terms constantly evolve to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. These terms often relate to the appearance of the drug (e.g., “rock,” “nugget”) or its geographical origin (e.g., “Peruvian”). They may also refer to people, culture or anything else that makes it easy to blend into everyday conversation. Crack slang terms can vary depending on location.
- Apple Jack
- Baby T
- Black Rock
- Blow Crusher
- Casper the Ghost
- Cheap Basing
- Cloud Nine
- Devil Smoke
- Dime Special
- Double Yoke
- Eastside Player
- Eye Opener
- Fat Bags
- Garbage Rock
- Golf Ball
- Ice Cubes
- Jelly Beans
- Moon Rock
- Ready Rock
- Speed Boat
- Sugar Block
- Top Gun
- White Ball
- White Ghost
- White Sugar
Crack addiction remains a serious problem in the U.S., with overdose a major risk. Understanding the dangers of crack addiction is important if you or a loved one struggles with the substance. This is especially important if you mix crack with other substances like alcohol. The first step in helping someone addicted to crack is identifying the problem.
Crack Addiction and Abuse Statistics
Since its creation, scientists and researchers tracked crack’s effects on Americans’ health. Given how simple the drug is to obtain and how regularly it’s used, educating the public on the epidemic’s severity is important. Here are a few statistics about crack addiction:
- About 0.4% of Americans have used crack over the past year.
- In 2021, 100,000 people aged 12 and older reported using crack cocaine for the first time in the past year.
- In 2021, roughly 20,000 people died from a cocaine overdose.
- Legal consequences for crack possession are harsher than those for powder cocaine possession. Those found possessing 5 grams of crack will get a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison. To get the same sentence with powder cocaine, a person has to be found possessing 500 grams.
Crack overdose symptoms are similar to traditional cocaine use, but they can onset much faster. Some symptoms to be wary of include:
- Feeling feverish or hot to the touch
- Excessive chest pain, especially around the heart
- Rapid heartbeat even while resting
- Uncontrollable energy, agitation or manic behavior
- Nausea or weakness
- Beginning of hallucinations
It can be difficult to separate the feelings of a crack cocaine binge from objective reality. Often, users will mistake actual overdose symptoms for the discomfort of the crash they’ve felt dozens of times. This mistake can have lethal results.
If you think you or someone you know is experiencing a crack overdose, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Do not hesitate to call 911.
Crack Addiction and Alcohol
Mixing crack and alcohol can be dangerous and even lethal. When these two substances are combined, the liver produces a toxic chemical called cocaethylene. Cocaethylene takes a long time to leave the body and can build up to dangerous levels. This can lead to many health issues, including heart problems, seizures and even death.
Crack also speeds up the absorption and slows the metabolism of alcohol. This means it takes less alcohol to reach toxic levels in the body, which can lead to alcohol poisoning or overdose.
If you are thinking about mixing crack and alcohol, it is important to know the risks. These substances can be deadly when combined, and it is not worth the risk. If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction, help is available. Many treatment programs can help people get sober and stay sober.
Crack Addiction and Pregnancy
Smoking crack while pregnant puts you at greater risk of miscarriage, premature birth and stillbirth. Your baby may also be born with a low birth weight, which can increase the risk of health problems later in life.
In addition, babies exposed to crack in the womb may have developmental problems, including learning disabilities, behavioral issues and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may also be more likely to experience addiction later in life.
If you are pregnant and struggling with crack addiction, help is available. Many treatment programs can help you get sober and stay sober. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it.
How Can I Tell if Someone Is Addicted To Crack?
When smoked, crack produces a very intense high lasting up to 10 minutes. This high is characterized by feelings of euphoria, focus and energy. However, the crash that follows is often just as intense and can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety and paranoia.
Several physical signs can indicate that someone is using crack. These signs include:
- Muscle twitches
- Dilated pupils
- Lip blisters
- Finger burns
How Can I Help Someone Who’s Addicted To Crack?
If you are concerned about someone’s crack addiction, it is important to talk to them about your concerns. Let them know you love and support them but will not support their continued drug use.
It is important to provide them with non-judgmental support. This means listening to them without criticizing or judging them. It also means offering help and resources without making them feel like they are being pressured.
However, it is also important to avoid enabling their addiction. Enabling is when you do things that make it easier for them to continue using drugs. This could include making excuses for them, covering up for them when they make mistakes or even giving them money to support their drug use.
Risks and Dangers of Crack Cocaine Addiction
When a person needs to take 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 cocaine withdrawal symptoms, their body is dependent on the drug. Such symptoms can include:
- Excessive sweating
- Increased appetite
- Vivid dreams
Eventually, if a person continues using crack, they can develop cravings for the drug and might keep using it despite experiencing negative side effects. It can 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)
- Concurrent drug or alcohol abuse
People addicted to crack don’t just experience struggles within their bodies but also in their lifestyles. Many individuals struggle financially due to their excessive spending on the drug. Some people may lose their jobs, declare bankruptcy or even steal money to afford their addiction. Numerous legal consequences can come with the addiction since crack is an illegal substance. Individuals can lose their driver’s license or custody of children or even face arrest and imprisonment.
Physical Effects of Crack Abuse
Individuals who develop an addiction to crack can suffer from many long-term effects that can be difficult to reverse. Some of these physical effects include:
- Liver damage
- Kidney damage
- Lung damage
- Heart disease
Psychological Effects of Crack Abuse
Along with physical side effects, crack use can impact the mind. Possible psychological symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Aggressive behavior
- Cognitive impairment
How Long Does Crack Stay In Your System?
Crack produces a very short high, lasting only 5–10 minutes when smoked and 30 minutes when snorted. However, the drug can still be detected in the body for several days or even weeks after use.
The half-life of crack cocaine is one to one and a half hours. This means that only half the drug would remain in the body an hour or so after use. After two hours, only a quarter of the drug would remain, and so on.
The detection time for crack cocaine varies depending on the type of test used and the individual’s metabolism. Hair tests can detect crack cocaine use for up to three months, urine tests for up to two days, saliva tests for up to 36 hours and blood tests for up to 7.5 hours.
The length of time crack stays in the body also depends on the amount of the drug used, the frequency of use and the individual’s overall health. People with liver problems may have a longer detection time as the liver breaks down the drug.
Crack Withdrawal and Detox
The severity of crack withdrawal symptoms varies from person to person. Factors that may affect the severity of symptoms include how much crack a person was using and how often they were using it and their medical history, body weight and height, age and family drug history.
In addition to physical symptoms, crack withdrawal can cause psychological and behavioral changes. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Increased sleeping
- Increased appetite
- Muscle aches
How Long Does Withdrawal From Crack Last?
Crack withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours of taking the last dose. The acute symptoms, which are the most intense, usually last up to five days. However, the types of symptoms and the times they appear may vary from person to person.
Detoxification, or detox, is the first step in addiction treatment. It is a process of removing the drug from the body and managing the withdrawal symptoms that can occur.
At The Recovery Village, medically detoxing from crack addiction is a safe and supervised process. Patients receive around-the-clock care from a team of nurses and doctors. They are also monitored for any potential medical complications.
Detox can be challenging, but it is an important first step in recovery. Once the medical detox is complete, therapy can begin.
Crack Addiction Treatment
Crack addiction is a medical disease and treatment at a licensed rehab facility is the safest and most efficient way to manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxification. Doctors at a rehab facility offer medically assisted detox to help patients wean off crack cocaine safely. Then, they enter inpatient rehab for therapy and treatment that gets to the root of their addiction. During rehab, patients learn to manage cravings and handle triggers that can spur setbacks.
If you or a loved one are among thousands of Americans with a crack addiction, it is never too late to seek help. The Recovery Village offers different programs at locations nationwide to assist individuals with their recovery. If you want to learn more, call one of our Recovery Advocates. Each call is free and confidential. Begin your journey to a drug-free life today.
Inpatient Crack Addiction Rehab
Inpatient treatment is a type of addiction treatment that provides 24-hour care and supervision. Patients in inpatient settings live onsite at the facility and receive full-time treatment. The time a patient stays in the center depends on their addiction and how much time the treatment team deems necessary for recovery.
Inpatient treatment programs typically include individual and group therapy. Individual therapy helps patients explore the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping mechanisms for dealing with triggers. Group therapy allows patients to connect with others struggling with addiction so they can learn from one another’s experiences.
Outpatient Crack Addiction Rehab
Outpatient crack addiction rehab is a type of treatment that allows patients to receive care without requiring them to remain in a residential facility. If an individual’s addiction is milder, outpatient rehab is a viable option and allows the patient to have some semblance of a normal routine outside rehab.
Outpatient rehab for crack addiction provides a flexible and convenient way to receive care, allowing patients to maintain their employment and other commitments. If you or someone you know is struggling with crack addiction, outpatient rehab may provide just the right amount of help to get on the road to recovery.
Crack Addiction Hotline
The Recovery Village crack addiction hotline is available 24/7 to support and guide people struggling with crack addiction and their loved ones. The operators on our hotline are trained to listen to each person’s story and help them find the resources they need to get sober.
Call the hotline: 888-441-2410
If you or someone you know is struggling with crack addiction, there are a few things you should know about crack hotlines:
- They are confidential: You can call the crack hotline without fear of judgment or repercussion.
- They are free: There is no charge to call the crack hotline.
- They are available 24/7: You can contact the crack hotline any time, day or night.
If you are thinking about calling the crack hotline, here are some tips:
- Be prepared to talk about your addiction: The operators on the hotline will want to know about your drug use and history of addiction.
- Be open to suggestions: The operators on the hotline may be able to offer you resources that you were not aware of.
- Be patient: Finding the right treatment program for you may take some time.
If you are struggling with crack addiction, please don’t hesitate to call our crack addiction hotline. Help is available; you don’t have to go through this alone.
Get the Help You Need for Crack Addiction Today
Crack addiction can be overwhelming. As a highly addictive substance, it can be hard to see a way out when you struggle with crack. Euphoria from taking the drug and the threat of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult for a person to decide to quit the drug. Even the ever-present danger of a crack overdose can make it hard to stop.
But help is available. At The Recovery Village, we help you recover from your crack addiction step by step. In medical detox, we wean you off crack, treating any withdrawal symptoms. In rehab, we continue your progress, helping you learn to cope with a crack-free life. Don’t wait: contact us today to learn more.
Crack is a form of the illicit street drug cocaine. While people generally 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. Crack is usually smoked in pieces, also known as rocks, in glass crack pipes.
Cocaine is a stimulant drug derived from coca plant leaves. It enhances the effects of a brain chemical called dopamine, leading to a sense of increased energy and power. The increased impact of dopamine also causes the euphoric and pleasurable sensation of a “high” on cocaine.
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart attack
- Sudden cardiac arrest
Made from cocaine, crack comes in a large, crystal form and is heated and smoked, rather than snorted. Crack is often considered a more dangerous drug than cocaine because smoking the substance delivers a more immediate and intense high than snorting the drug. Crack is also more potent than cocaine because it is derived directly from the drug itself, also commonly called freebase.
Crack is a mixture of powder cocaine, water and baking soda or ammonia.
Crack is usually white or off-white and looks like small rocks, 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. When the crack crystals are heated, they emit smoke that can be inhaled.
Crack overdose symptoms are similar to those resulting from traditional cocaine use. One key difference: these symptoms may onset much faster in the case of crack. Here are several self-classifiable symptoms to be wary of:
- Feeling feverish or otherwise hot to the touch
- Excessive chest pain, especially around the heart
- Rapid heartbeat even while resting
- Uncontrollable energy, agitation, or manic behavior
- Nausea or weakness
- Beginning of hallucinations
While in the middle of a crack cocaine binge session, it can be difficult to separate feelings associated with the high and objective reality. Oftentimes, users will mistake actual overdose symptoms with the uncomfortableness of the crash they’ve felt dozens of times in the past.
Signs to look out for include the following:
- Weak pulse or blood pressure
- A marked decrease in respiration rate
- Clammy or sweat-covered skin
- Vomiting in excess, or the action of vomiting without bile coming out
- Trembling and fidgeting
- Irritability or violent behavior
- Paranoia or abstract thought processes
- Excessive itching or scratching due to feelings of ‘bugs on the skin’
- Coma or coming in and out of consciousness periodically
In addition to the above bullets, signs of a crack overdose can veer into the extreme. It is not unlikely that a stroke, heart attack, or seizure may occur — especially if emergency care is not sought immediately.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Monitoring the Future“>Monitoring the Future.” December 15, 2022. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Healthdirect. “Dopamine“>Dopamine.” April 2021. Accessed August 16, 2023.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings“>Clinical[…]osed Settings.” 2009. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-reported Drug Use among Primary Care Patients with Moderate-risk Illicit Drug Use“>Hair Dru[…]icit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed August 16, 2023.
LabCorp. “Drug Test Summary for Urine Oral Fluid and Hair“>Drug Tes[…]luid and Hair.” Accessed August 16, 2023.
ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window“>Drug Pla[…]ection Window.” September 2022. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health“>Key Subs[…]se and Health.” January 3, 2023. Accessed August 16, 2023.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Drug Overdose Death Rates“>Drug Ove[…]e Death Rates.” June 30, 2023. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Cami, J.; Farré, M.; González, M.L.; et al. “Cocaine metabolism in humans after use of alcohol. Clinical and research implications“>Cocaine […] implications.” Recent Developments in Alcoholism, 1998. Accessed August 16, 2023.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine Research Report“>Cocaine […]search Report.” May 2016. Accessed August 16, 2023.
Jones, Reese T. “Pharmacokinetics of Cocaine: Considerations When Assessing Cocaine Use by Urinalysis“>Pharmaco[…]by Urinalysis.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed August 16, 2023.
England, Deborah C. “What’s the Difference Between Crack and Powder Cocaine?“>What’s t[…]wder Cocaine?” June 16, 2022. Accessed August 16, 2023.
O’Malley, Gerald F.; O’Malley, Rika. “Cocaine“>Cocaine.” Merck Manuals, December 2022. Accessed August 16, 2023.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.