Crack is a form of cocaine that can be smoked and is considered by many to be the most addictive form of cocaine. It is available in solid blocks that range in color from white, yellow or pale red unlike the powder form that regular cocaine comes in. The term “crack” comes from the popping sound it makes when the crystal is heated. Compared to regular cocaine, the purity of crack is anywhere from 75 percent to 100 percent, making it dangerously more addictive. What adds to the danger of the drug being used by more people is its affordability. Regular cocaine has long been looked upon as the illegal drug that only the wealthy can afford. Crack, meanwhile, is dirt cheap.
When crack is smoked, it reaches the brain in a short amount of time and results to giving the user a feeling of euphoria. The high experienced when one smokes crack is intense but it is short-lived, lasting only for anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. It is very easy to become addicted to cocaine because it changes the brain’s reward system. When crack is smoked, it traps the pleasure chemical dopamine in nerve cell spaces, stimulating it repeatedly which results to feelings of euphoria. After the high fades, however, the user feels so depressed that they have to smoke crack again in order to get the same intense feeling.
Crack is dangerous because it actually rewires the brain. When there is an overload of dopamine, the brain copes in one of three ways: It can destroy some of the crack, manufacture less dopamine or put off its receptors. This results to users getting sensitized to the effects of the drug after taking it for some time. Thus, they must increase their dosage so that they can get the kind of high they did the first time they took crack. Ultimately, the addict can’t function without cocaine.
The effects of crack abuse are not pleasant and they involve the physical and psychological. On the physiological side, crack users experience high blood pressure, are more susceptible to lung disease due to the introduction of foreign substances into their lungs and because they don’t get enough rest and nutrition, they are more prone to other diseases as well. They also run the risk of tearing their aortic artery.
On the psychological aspect, crack abuse can result to feelings of anxiety, depression and mood swings. Because of the addiction, they may engage in dangerous behaviors when it comes to sex, violence and the law. People who are high on crack are more prone to risky sexual behaviors like having unprotected sex, engaging in sex with multiple partners and having sex in exchange for crack. The drug produces intense emotions, like anger. Thus, crack users are more likely to physically attack their partners or commit murder. Finally, crack addiction is expensive even if crack initially costs way less than regular cocaine. To fund their addiction, they may rob or steal from other people—actions which could land them in jail.
If you or your loved one is addicted to crack, it’s imperative that you get help immediately. The withdrawal symptoms of someone who has been on crack for a short time are easier to manage than one who has been on the drug for a longer time period, making prompt action a must.