Signs of Crack Use
Crack cocaine is a powerful stimulant, so crack users may exhibit particular signs of use that can help you determine whether a loved one is abusing crack.
Some signs of crack use include:
- Sudden erratic or aggressive behavior
- Intense exhaustion
- Tooth decay or bleeding gums
- Changes in eating habits or appetite
- Overdose or withdrawal symptoms
Individuals addicted to crack may also own drug paraphernalia, such as a narrow glass pipe used for smoking crack. Crack cocaine looks like tiny crystals in various shades of white.
Short and Long-Term Effects of Crack Use
Crack cocaine use can quickly lead to drug addiction and cause serious health problems even with only short-term abuse.
Short-Term Effects of Crack Use
As a result of crack cocaine’s potency and how quickly it enters the bloodstream, short-term side effects can be intense.
The short-term effects of crack abuse can include:
- Dilated pupils
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Sudden aggression or energy bursts (which can lead to extreme fatigue)
- Increase in body temperature
- Mood swings
- Changes in appetite (increase or decrease)
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Heart attack
Short-term use of crack cocaine can also lead to developing substance use disorder due to crack’s addictive nature. Notably, overdose can also be very common due to how quickly crack cocaine enters the bloodstream.
Long-Term Effects of Crack Use
Over time, crack use can cause lasting damage to the body’s cardiovascular system. With long-term crack abuse, crack users increase their risk for heart attack or stroke.
Additional long-term effects of using crack can include:
- Extreme agitation
- Heart problems
With so many risks involved with using crack cocaine, seeking substance abuse treatment for crack cocaine addiction is a life-saving choice. Thankfully, various recovery centers are available to handle various levels of drug use and addiction.
Detoxing from Crack
When a person stops smoking crack, their body will begin to detox from the crack naturally. Crack users may experience withdrawal symptoms during detoxification as soon as 30 minutes after the last crack use.
Detoxing from crack can be a challenging process without medical intervention. Recovering addicts can work with a medical professional during the detox process, and these detox programs are available at both an inpatient and an outpatient level.
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of withdrawal that can occur after quitting crack cocaine can vary in intensity depending on the individual user’s level of addiction, how much they were smoking, etc. However, the same general withdrawal symptoms may occur.
Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Intense cravings for crack cocaine
- Restlessness or anxiety
In general, crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening. However, since cravings can be very intense, it is tough for many recovering addicts to avoid returning to crack cocaine use without help and support. Additionally, those returning to crack use during the detox process increase their risk of experiencing an overdose.
Three Phases of Crack Cocaine Detox
Three significant phases occur during the crack cocaine detox process. Another reason to seek help when quitting crack cocaine is to ensure you have the right support to get you through this challenging detoxification phase.
The initial withdrawal symptoms can show up anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours after the last use of crack. This first phase lasts 1-3 days and is often known as the “crash” phase.
During this initial crash, crack cocaine users may experience intense anxiety, agitation, and depression as the body adjusts to the sudden lack of dopamine.
After the first few days, recovering crack addicts will notice that their anxiety or agitation may not be as severe. However, users are still likely to feel anxious or restless during this phase and fatigued. Drug cravings are also more common during this second phase as the body adjusts to the chemical changes.
The final phase of crack cocaine withdrawal is sometimes called the extinction phase. During this phase, recovering addicts may begin to feel physically better but are at a much higher risk for relapse depending on social situations.
Crack abuse creates a psychological and physical addiction, making it essential that former users be careful around social situations or individuals that might encourage or trigger a relapse.
Medical detox describes a supervised process where recovering addicts receive medical guidance and support during their detoxification from crack cocaine. Depending on the user’s needs, detox can occur at an inpatient or an outpatient treatment center.
Currently, there is no medication-assisted treatment protocol for crack cocaine. Unlike opioid or alcohol addiction treatment, no medication can help crack users deal with cravings or avoid relapse. Therefore, the support received during medical detox is critical to recovery.
Treatment for Crack Addiction
After detox, seeking additional drug addiction rehabilitation is strongly recommended for crack cocaine recovery. You can choose an individualized treatment facility for yourself or a loved one to meet your specific needs and level of addiction.
For some recovering crack addicts, an inpatient rehab center will provide the structure they need to get through all phases of detox. Additionally, they can benefit from the support of living at a facility for a minimum of 30 days.
During inpatient rehab, individuals will undergo various therapy types to help them tackle the psychological impact of their crack addiction. Recovering crack addicts will also receive ongoing medical support, mainly if their crack addiction has caused other health complications like a heart attack or stroke.
Recovering crack users with a less intense addiction might consider an outpatient program rather than inpatient drug rehab. Outpatient treatment is also effective in treating crack addiction, and recovering addicts have a few options available at the outpatient level.
Partial Hospitalization is an outpatient program that provides much of the same intensity and structure of inpatient or residential rehab without requiring the recovering addict to stay overnight. Partial hospitalization programs are also often more affordable and can allow individuals to maintain jobs and other outside commitments.
Similarly, an Intensive Outpatient Program is an outpatient rehab center with a weekly time commitment of about 10-15 hours, depending on your specific treatment plan. Intensive Outpatient Programs are usually recommended for individuals with a minor addiction or for individuals transitioning out of a residential rehab program and wanting additional recovery support.
Types of Therapies Used in Crack Rehab
No matter what type of recovery center you choose, your treatment plan will include individual and group therapy options to encourage better mental health habits.
Behavioral health counseling is a significant component in treating stimulant drug addiction, such as crack cocaine, due to how stimulant drugs impact a person psychologically and physically.
The following are some key therapy types used in recovery from crack cocaine addiction:
Contingency Management is a therapy based on earning rewards or vouchers for positive behaviors during treatment. Rewards will include things that support a healthy, drug-free lifestyle—like movie tickets, gym memberships, meals, etc.
Contingency Management as a therapy for treating crack cocaine addiction is very successful for various recovering addicts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also very beneficial in treating crack cocaine addiction recovery. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on helping users learn better coping mechanisms and work on developing better habits with the goal of long-term abstinence from crack cocaine.
12-Step Programs for Crack Recovery
Support groups such as 12-step programs for stimulant addiction recovery are also beneficial in remaining abstinent. These 12-step programs offer a straightforward, progressive process for maintaining sobriety while improving one’s overall well-being after getting sober.
In addition, 12-step programs (such as Cocaine Anonymous) offer a supportive peer group of fellow recovering addicts that can provide compassion and support alongside accountability and encouragement.
Recovery and Life After Crack Rehab
Sober living facilities, or sober houses, act as a bridge between rehab and regular daily life. Individuals who sign up to live in a sober house will live with a few other recovering addicts in a drug and alcohol-free community. Residents of sober living programs will contribute to the overall home through chores and rent payments and may be required to attend meetings as part of their residency.
Aftercare provides recovering addicts with ongoing support after their rehab treatment ends. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), telephone-based counseling for recovering crack addicts has been highly successful aftercare. Individuals who participated in phone-based counseling were likelier to avoid relapse and remain sober.
Additional aftercare programs can also include:
- Individual therapy
- Participation in 12-step programs
- Health and fitness programs
- Alumni programs (at former rehab center)
Looking for a Recovery Center for Crack Cocaine Abuse?
Getting help for crack addiction is easier than you think. You can speak with a doctor or healthcare provider to get assessed and receive an individualized drug abuse treatment plan, or you can look at SAMHSA’s program locator to find the options nearest you.