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Crack Addiction and Treatment Options

If you’re suffering from a crack addiction, you may not have all the facts. At this point, you might feel like you’re using this drug because it’s something you enjoy. However, what you don’t know is that you’re traveling down a dangerous path.

You may need to get treatment in order to recover from your addiction to this drug. If so, it helps to know what your options are for professional assistance.

If you are a crack addict, or you believe you may have an addiction, it’s important to get the right information about your drug use. You need to know the facts about this powerful drug and what it means to be addicted. It’s also critical to know if you are addicted so that you can do something about it. You may find that you have a lot of questions that need to be answered, such as:

  • What are the short and long-term effects?
  • What are some of the signs of addiction?
  • What is the definition of abuse?
  • Should I try to stop using on my own before I reach out for professional help?
  • Where can addicts go to find help for their addictions?

Getting the right information can better prepare you to make the right decision for your health and your future. Also, please know that it is incredibly hard to recover from a crack addiction, but it can be done with the proper amount of support and guidance.

Crack Dependence Statistics in the United States

Sometimes we tend to view this form of cocaine as a drug that was more popular in the 80s than it is now. The truth is that it is still a serious problem, and the statistics tell the real story. According to recent statistics on crack abuse in the United States::

  • In 2007, there were close to 5,500 people found guilty of crack-related crimes.
  • About 95% of them involved drug trafficking.
  • In 2006, there were 8.6 million Americans ages 12 and older that reported having used this drug.
  • Of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 25, 6.9% stated that they had used within the last year.
  • 3.2% of high school seniors reported having used the drug at some point in their lives.
  • In 2006, it was the primary drug responsible for 178,475 treatment admissions.
  • This number made up 71% of all cocaine admissions during that year.

Today, we tend to focus on drugs that seem to be a greater threat than this one. Heroin addiction and the abuse of prescription drugs have all but stolen the media’s attention. It’s very important not to gloss over the fact that crack still presents a very real threat. If you’re addicted to it, it’s so important for you to learn as much as you can.

What is Crack?

Crack is a form of cocaine that is very addictive, both physically and psychologically. It’s a free base form of the drug that people can smoke. It produces a very short but intense high when it’s used.

This form of cocaine is actually the most addictive. It’s used recreationally, and has never had any medicinal value. It became popular in inner city areas in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and other cities between 1984 and 1985. Many people turned to it to get a better high than what they were getting from smoking marijuana.

It wasn’t long before the news of this new form of cocaine began to spread. The production of crack increased very quickly, and the new drug became readily available.

When you think of cocaine, you probably imagine a white, powdery substance that resembles baking soda. Crack looks very different from that. It appears as nuggets that are off-white in color. The pieces have jagged edges because of the way the drug is cooked. If the drug is purer, it will look like a hard and brittle piece of plastic. In this crystal form, it will snap when it’s bent.

Most people who sell it on the street will cut it with other substances. They may use baking soda, levamisole, or other items. This allows them to make more money on their products.

This form of cocaine is known by many street names, such as:

  • Nuggets
  • Jelly Beans
  • Roxanne
  • French fries
  • Rocks
  • Apple Jacks
  • Electric Kool-Aid
  • Rox
  • 24-7

Some of these names make it sound safer than it really is. This might make it appealing to young people looking to get high.

Crack is used by smoking the crystals or the solid blocks. It gets its name from the popping and cracking sound that it makes when it is inhaled. When users smoke it, the result is a strong, short-lasting euphoric high. Because this is an illegal drug, any use of it at all is considered to be abuse.

When people abuse crack, the drug reaches their brains very quickly. The high will last for about 15 minutes, and then it will leave just as abruptly. It is believed that it’s possible to form a quicker addiction to this drug than it is to cocaine. That’s because smoking it allows it fast access to the brain, whereas snorting it doesn’t. Because of this, a lot of experts believe it’s possible to form an addiction after your first use.

When people smoke crack, their brains produce excess amounts of dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that your brain releases when you feel good. You might have a surge when you eat a good meal, spend time with a loved one, or just feel happy.

Users get accustomed to these higher levels of dopamine over time. Also, the brain becomes incapable of producing it on its own. This leads people to become dependent on crack in order to feel good.

For addicts, being unable to produce dopamine on their own is a big problem. They may start to get depressed or have other withdrawal symptoms without it. This is what leads them to continually abuse it over and over again. It’s at this point that you become addicted to it.

The Side Effects of Crack on the Body and Mind

There aren’t many drugs that have the ability to affect the body the way that this one does. This is a drug that is incredibly powerful, even if you only use a small amount of it at a time. It’s also very easy to form a tolerance to it. This means that you will increase how much of it you use to get the same type of result from the high.

The effects of crack on the body and mind all depend on how long you’ve been using it. As you might expect, the longer you use it, the more severe the effects will be.

The Short-Term Effects of Crack

When you use this drug, the high from it leaves almost as quickly as it comes. When this happens, your mood changes, and it can result in short-term effects such as:

  • Becoming very irritated or angry
  • Experiencing depression
  • Having convulsions
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Becoming paranoid
  • Feeling exhausted

Unfortunately, many of the short-term effects of crack are quite desirable. This is what causes people to keep abusing it. They enjoy the euphoric rush that the drug produces when it’s smoked. They may also crave the feelings of excitement and alertness they experience. Some may even continue to use it because it suppresses their appetites.

Crack’s Long-Term Effects

The longer you use it, the more at risk you are for developing some of the long-term effects, and these might include:

  • An increased risk of heart attack
  • An increased risk of stroke
  • Malnutrition in the body
  • Kidney damage
  • Liver damage
  • Respiratory distress
  • An increased risk of mood disorders, such as depression
  • A continually increasing tolerance
  • Bouts of delirium
  • Symptoms of psychosis

Some users will develop a tactile hallucination condition that they call "crack bugs." This makes them feel like they have bugs crawling on their skin, or just below it. As a result, they often suffer from long, painful scratch marks. This type of hallucination can lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation. Of course, this can make delusional thinking patterns even worse.

What is Crack Addiction? Understanding the Signs

Perhaps you’ve been using this drug for quite some time, but you still don’t think you’re addicted to it. This is very common, and people who use this substance often believe that they are in complete control of their drug use. They feel they can stop using it anytime they want. They only continue to use it to experience the high, or as a way to avoid stress or challenges in their lives.

Maybe this is how you feel, and if it is, you need to know if your use of this drug has progressed into an addiction. There are some addiction symptoms and signs you can look for in your own life.

Do you:

  • Have friends and family encouraging you to get help for your addiction?
  • Struggle to maintain positive relationships with those who don’t use?
  • Find that you’re losing important relationships to you?
  • Struggle to work or go to school?
  • Experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop using?

Answering “yes” to even one of these questions indicates that you may have an addiction that requires professional treatment.

You may also find that you experience:

  • Bouts of hyperactivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Red eyes
  • Extreme highs and lows in your mood
  • Bouts of depression
  • Sleeping problems

Don’t worry if you’re still not sure whether or not you’re addicted to crack. There are other ways that you can find out. You may want to take a cocaine addiction quiz to get more information. This will give you a unique insight into your current situation and relationship with this drug.

You may feel more comfortable talking with a professional about your experience with this drug. If so, that’s perfectly OK. Many rehab programs offer free phone assessments for this very reason.

What is Crack Abuse?

Many people confuse the words abuse with addiction, thinking they’re the same. They are very different, although crack abuse can easily lead to addiction. Abusing this drug refers to any use of it whatsoever, but without feeling a need to continually use it. Once you begin to feel dependent upon it just to feel normal, or just to get through your day, it is safe to assume that you are addicted.

Crack Cocaine Addiction and Treatment

Recovering from Addiction and the Symptoms of Withdrawal

People who suffer from a crack addiction will frequently attempt to stop using on their own. In their minds, they feel that they will try to stop using without assistance first, and then if that doesn’t work, they’ll get professional help. More often than not, withdrawal symptoms end up causing a relapse, and symptoms can be quite severe.

You might experience any of the following crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Headaches that are very painful
  • Body aches and pains
  • Intense cravings
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Feelings of restlessness and agitation
  • General fatigue
  • An increased appetite
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares

Relapsing can quickly lead to a crack overdose, and when you’re addicted to it, the risk of relapsing is quite high.

The Best Way to Begin Your Recovery

Again, it’s very important that you don’t attempt to recover from a crack addiction on your own. This would be extremely dangerous, and you may not be able to stop using the drug.

It’s best to start your recovery in a professional setting. That way you can work with people who understand everything there is to know about this addiction. You will need to go through a period of detoxification, and then go on to rehab. Both are going to be crucial to help you meet your goal of getting and staying clean.

What is Crack Detox?

When your recovery begins, you will need to go through a crack cocaine detox program. So many toxins have been released into your body because of your drug use. Detoxing is going to help your body eliminate them more efficiently. It’s also going to assist with keeping you more comfortable, which means less severe withdrawals.

Also, there can be some risks associated with stopping the use of this drug abruptly. It’s possible to suffer from heart complications or seizures. When you go to a detox center, your chances of having an emergency situation decrease significantly. If you do have any immediate medical needs, you’ll be in a place where you can get immediate help.

Options for Withdrawal Treatments

There are many different ways of treating crack addiction during the detox phase. Your doctor will talk with you about the methods they feel are right for you. However, it might help you to have an idea of what you can expect.

Your doctor may decide to prescribe several different medications to help you through withdrawal. These might include:

  • An anticonvulsant drug if you’re deemed to be at risk for seizures.
  • An antidepressant if they think you may suffer from anxiety or depression.
  • A medication to help improve the quality of your sleep.
  • An over-the-counter drug to help with pain.
  • Benzodiazepine medications to improve your mood and help you feel calmer.

There are risks with using medications to recover from a crack addiction. However, if you’re carefully monitored, and you only take them for a short time, they can be quite helpful.

Even if you’re placed on medications, you may still experience some holistic detox treatments. These will actually be very important for you because you’ll need to improve your overall health.

Many crack addicts don’t maintain very good diets. In fact, because of the appetite suppressants in the drug, they may not eat much at all. This can leave you deficient of many critical vitamins and nutrients. It also means that some major organs in your body might not be functioning well.

You will probably be working with a nutritionist to improve your diet. Nutrition therapy will be very important for you, as will physical exercise and activity. These and other non-medical detox treatments will only help you feel better faster.

While you are going through the crack detox process, you may also work with a therapist. You probably aren’t completely prepared for what detoxing is going to be like. It will be helpful for you to talk through how you feel.

In short, no. It might not be safe at all, and it could actually put you in great danger if there’s a complication. Detoxing from drugs at home carries a lot of risks; especially for long-time users. You need to be in a medical setting in the event of an emergency. That will allow your treatment team to act quickly to get you the help you may need.

It might make sense to you to attempt an at-home detox for crack. However, we want to caution you against it. As of right now, there are no FDA approved products that have been proven to work for home detox.

What Type of Detox Program is Best for Crack Addicts?

Now that you know the importance of detoxing, you may be curious about the best type of facility. While there are a few different options, some are certainly better than others.

Inpatient Detoxification

There are different ways of detoxing from crack. However, most experts believe that an inpatient detox facility is the best option. This makes it virtually impossible for you to relapse and provides you with great support.

This is such a powerful drug. If you were to detox in an outpatient setting, you might not be able to resist the temptation to use. It will also help you to be constantly monitored by medical professionals. They may be able to detect the onset of a complication before you even sense that something isn’t right.

Other Options for Detoxing From Crack

There are other options for detox. However, they’re not as good as an inpatient setting. You may be able to find a detoxification center that offers outpatient services. You should only use them if you have a strong support system at home.

Some programs will also offer rapid detox for drug users. This is something that used to be much more common a few years ago. It isn’t used as much today because of the risks involved.

A rapid detox will mean giving you a series of medications to remove harmful toxins from your body quickly. In many cases, this is done within several hours’ time. The risk of complications are high, and you may experience severe withdrawal.

Your Expected Detox Timeline

Most people are able to go through the detoxification process within about seven to ten days. If your addiction is more severe, or if you have complications, it may take you longer.

No matter the duration of your detox, please remember that you’re taking the right steps. It’s hard to commit to recovery, but you’ll soon see that it’s incredibly rewarding.

What Happens After Detox is Finished?

After you have finished going through detox, you will need to go to a crack cocaine rehab. It’s very important for you to continue to get help for your addiction. Recovering from the physical portion of it won’t be enough, and the right treatment will contribute to your long-term sobriety.

What is a Crack Rehab Program?

When you go to a rehab facility, you’ll be addressing the psychological part of your addiction. This is critical because you need to know why you started using this drug. You may learn that the reason is something you never would have suspected.

During your rehab stay, you’ll be working with professionals as well as with other patients. The first person you meet for treatment will likely be your therapist. It will be their job to determine the cause of your addiction. Once they know what caused it, they can properly treat it.

You will also work with other patients during group therapy sessions. This gives you time to get to know the other people in recovery. You’ll talk about a wide variety of topics and you’ll help each other.

You may participate in other forms of therapy too, such as family therapy and equine therapy. Your treatment plan will be varied, but it will be detailed according to your unique needs.

It’s possible that one of the major reasons you suffer from an addiction is because you have a co-occurring disorder. About half of all drug addicts have them, so they’re quite common.

A co-occurring disorder is a mental health condition that contributes to addictions. For example, many people will start using crack because it helps to calm some of the symptoms they experience. It’s very typical for individuals with this addiction to suffer from depression. The use of this drug helps to make some of those symptoms go away.

If you do have a co-occurring disorder, it’s very important for you to receive the proper treatment right away. This is going to improve your chances of success.

Professional Treatment Methods for Crack Addiction

There are several different types of facilities that you can go to for help. You should choose the one that will work best for you, but you will receive a recommendation.

Inpatient Rehab Facilities

Inpatient programs are, by far, the most popular forms of rehab for crack addicts. They work well because they provide a solid 30 days of care, which most of them need.

If you have relapsed before, you may be more appropriate for a residential rehab facility. This involves staying in a recovery center for a longer period of time. You may be able to stay for as long as 6 months or so, depending on what your needs are.

Outpatient Crack Treatment Programs

You may find that simply meeting with a therapist during outpatient rehab isn’t enough for you. However, some people do very well with intensive outpatient programs, or IOPs. This type of treatment should be reserved for people with strong support systems at home. Programs usually run for about 12 weeks, and the appointment times are very flexible.

Do You Have a Loved One Who is Addicted to Crack?

If you have a family member who is addicted to crack, you may be very concerned, and rightly so. It’s hard to know that someone you love is unable to escape this awful addiction.

You may want to begin by having a discussion with them. Let them know about your concerns and offer to help them find addiction treatment services. You should be firm but loving when you talk with them. Tell them that you want to support them in any way you can, but that you want them to recover.

When is the Right Time to Schedule an Intervention?

Unfortunately, people often don’t want to listen to their loved ones’ pleas when they’re addicted to crack. This is due to the power of their dependence on the drug. If your family member refuses to get help, or comes up with excuses, it might be time to do something different.

You can find intervention services at many drug rehab programs. Meeting with other friends and family, as well as an interventionist may be what’s needed in this situation.

The professional you work with will guide you through the entire process. It’s also very possible that your loved one will finally agree to get help by the time it’s over. Many of them do because they can see their need for treatment.

Crack Cocaine Addiction and Treatment

Getting Help from a Crack Addiction Treatment Program

You may feel as though recovering from a crack addiction will be too hard on you. This is one of the more powerful addictions out there. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome it. Recovery is possible as long as you have the right kind of help and support.

Here at Northpoint Washington, we want to assist you on this healing journey. We know you might be feeling scared about what you’re about to encounter. We know you might be skeptical about the process, or wonder if it will even work for you. We can promise you that we have the best professionals at our center. We’re committed to helping you reach your goals.

At times, it can feel as though you’ll be a prisoner to drug dependence forever. That doesn’t have to be the case. The only thing that stands between you and recovery is a decision to get help.

Would you like more information on crack addiction and/or treatment? Please contact us to learn more.

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Northpoint Washington: Opening April 2019

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