Addiction impacts millions of people in the United States and around the world. In the United States of America alone, 21.5 million people were estimated to be battling a substance use disorder, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This battle costs these millions of people and those around them over 200 billion dollars per year.
Addiction, or a substance use disorder (the official diagnostic terminology) is a chronic mental health disorder. Chronic refers to the fact that the disorder is persistent and consistently recurring, meaning there is no cure available. It can be arrested and brought under control by receiving proper treatment.
What Is Crack
Crack cocaine is a form of freebase cocaine. It is typically smoked by users and is a favorite of cocaine addicts due to its ability to provide an intense, euphoric, but brief high, leaving the users with a desire for more almost immediately. It has garnered the nickname of the most addictive form of cocaine as a result of the overwhelming cravings it incites in those who smoke it.
Crack cocaine is a stimulant drug much like regular cocaine. The high it creates resembles that of other stimulants as well, which is a rapid and euphoric high. It increased energy, attention, and focus by speeding up different physical and mental functions. Since it is ingested via inhaling the smoke, it has a very rapid onset. It is absorbed directly into the lungs and travels into the bloodstream, which then sends the drug throughout the body. The high begins seconds after smoking crack, peak very quickly, and ends within 5 to 10 minutes.
Unlike its powdered counterpart, crack cocaine is usually in a solid form and resembles “rocks” that are an off-white hue. They usually have the consistency of candle wax with a little bit more density. The purer the crack, the more crystalline and brittle it will appear.
Users will perform a “cooking” ritual whenever using the drug. This includes heating the crack cocaine and mixing it with baking soda and water. This creates an intricate chemical reaction that both heats and vaporizes the drug and allows the user to inhale the smoke that is produced in order to achieve the desired effects.
Since crack cocaine’s introduction in the 1980s when it flooded the streets of inner city and impoverished neighborhoods inciting the crack epidemic, it’s had plenty of time to accumulate a variety of nicknames including:
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF CRACK ADDICTION?
As stated above, a crack addiction is a serious matter. Fortunately, signs of an addiction to this illicit drugs present themselves as glaring red flags that are up to you to notice. Whether it’s yourself or a loved one that you may be concerned about having a crack addiction, some of the more common signs of a dependence on the substance or full-blown crack addiction symptoms are as follows:
- Dilation of pupils
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Muscle twitches
- Mood swings
- Compulsive thoughts about using crack
- Inability to stop using the drug
- Destruction of relationships
- Loss of finances
- Lack of interest in things
- Lack of interest in activities
- Making the drug the top priority in your life
These are just a few of the many crack addiction symptoms that you or a loved one may encounter. It’s important to know that a substance use disorder, or addiction, is as individualized as each person who struggles with it. It presents itself differently among all addicts. But these are some of the more commonly seen crack addiction symptoms that you should be on the lookout for if you suspect that something may not be right.
WHAT IS INVOLVED IN CRACK ADDICTION TREATMENT?
If you have determined that you or a loved one may have a crack addiction, maybe it’s time to begin to consider crack addiction treatment. Crack addiction treatment provides both medical and clinical intervention when it comes to getting help in overcoming an addiction to crack cocaine.
While crack addiction treatment doesn’t necessarily need to address the addiction on a physical plane, getting help for your crack addiction is vital and the way to improve the likelihood of your success in crack addiction treatment is by undergoing to the full continuum of care.
The full continuum of care refers to following a structured pathway throughout your crack addiction treatment. This includes starting off with detox and slowly working your way down throughout the various levels of care. Each level requires a lesser amount of clinical and/or medical intervention, so it acts as a step-down process for the patient. This allows the patient to slowly, yet safely, work through his or her crack addiction treatment plan at a steady pace that doesn’t set him or her up for relapse.
The first step in the full continuum of care for crack addiction treatment is medical detox. Detox is the level of care that focuses on ridding your body of substances in a safe medical setting. While crack doesn’t necessarily call for an actual detox, many people engage in polydrug use or using more than one substance at a time.
Certain drugs require an official medical detox in order to help guide you through the withdrawal process safely and comfortably. Withdrawals refer to the uncomfortable and sometimes even life-threatening symptoms your body and brain experience as they attempt to regulate themselves without the presence of drugs in your system.
When you arrive at detox, you’ll undergo a full assessment of your physical health and overall addiction. From there, a fully staffed medical team will create your individualized detox plan and prescribe different detox medications to help you safely and comfortably detox your body from the drugs. You’ll be under 24/7 medical surveillance to ensure your safety and progress during this time.
You’ll also have access to a full clinical staff while at detox as well. This includes therapists, case managers, and support staff. Since many of the withdrawal symptoms are mental as opposed to physical, having access to clinical staff is also vital to your success.
The primary goal of detox is to successfully remove any foreign substances from your body and return you to a healthy state before heading off to the next stage of crack addiction treatment. The focus is not on the mental aspect of addiction yet, so continuing with your treatment plan is vital in order to avoid relapse by working through the underlying causes of your crack addiction.
The next stage in crack addiction treatment is the inpatient level of care. At this stage, the patient should be fully rid of the substance in their body and be feeling pretty good physically. Now the focus can be put on the therapeutic aspect.
At an inpatient treatment facility, patients live onsite. They undergo fulltime therapy and once again have access to a medical and clinical staff 24/7. The idea is to get to the root cause of addiction since it is a disorder whose symptoms manifest on a physical and mental plane. By understanding the why behind addiction, you can safeguard yourself from returning to the substance once again down the road.
You’ll live with other clients at the facility which will offer a variety of different amenities as well as therapy methods and treatment techniques. Every treatment facility is different, so it’s important to take a look at what you desire in crack addiction treatment and locate the right facility for you.
You’ll learn different coping mechanism and life skills throughout your stay at the treatment center. By existing in a community and environment separated from the community at large, you’ll be able to focus on therapy without the intrusion of outside distractions.
Intensive outpatient (IOP) is the next level of care following a successful completion of inpatient crack addiction treatment. IOP requires that patients find alternative housing since they do not have living arrangements for clients. Therapy also steps down to a part-time rather than full-time basis.
However, therapy still occurs multiple times a week for several hours at a time, providing intense clinical intervention for the clients. This part-time occurrence does allow for clients to begin slowly acclimating to life outside of crack addiction treatment and begin to face personal responsibility and freedoms.
While having more freedom and responsibilities, the client will still have heavy clinical assistance during this time. They will also be subjected to frequent, random drug testing to help keep them accountable to their recoveries and programs.
After finishing IOP, the next step in the full continuum of care is outpatient treatment. Outpatient occurs even less frequently than IOP, usually only for about an hour per week. The idea is that by this stage in crack addiction treatment, a client will be self-sufficient enough to be on their own the majority of the time and only require a minor amount of clinical intervention. It allows a client to take charge of their lives and recovery, but still having some therapeutic assistance to fall back on.
Clients are also still subjected to random drug testing too for that level of accountability. But since recovery is an ongoing process and requires personal commitment, it is ultimately up to the client to continue his or her growth in sobriety and stay on track in their life.
HOW DANGEROUS IS CRACK?
So, just how dangerous is crack? Besides being the most addictive form of cocaine on the market, crack also produces a number of fairly nasty side effects for its habitual users.
Since crack is notoriously addictive, many suffering from a crack addiction will go to great lengths in order to get the drug or the funds to purchase the drugs. Many crack addicts find themselves turning to a life of crime in order to acquire the substance. Whether it’s burglary, armed robbery, or even prostitution, there are no limits to the lengths they may go to reach their goal.
Crack addiction also has heavy health complications. Since it is a stimulant, many of the habitual users begin to have heart problems and may even succumb to strokes or heart attacks.
These can be life-threatening on their own, and can also cause permanent damage to the body even long after the addiction is brought under control.
Smoking crack cocaine also leads to the potential to have sometimes permanent psychological effects. Crack or cocaine psychosis has been reported in many crack addicts throughout the years.
Due to prolonged exposure to the drug, the addict’s brain suffers permanent or semi-permanent effects that causes the individual to feel crazy, act erratically, and even turn to violence.
Smoking crack cocaine also leads to the potential to have sometimes permanent psychological effects. Crack or cocaine psychosis has been reported in many crack addicts throughout the years. Due to prolonged exposure to the drug, the addict’s brain suffers permanent or semi-permanent effects that causes the individual to feel crazy, act erratically, and even turn to violence.
CRACK ABUSE STATISTICS
The numbers surrounding crack use and abuse are disturbing. These numbers were revised in 2017, and the following are some frightening crack addiction statistics that reflect how serious crack addiction in the United States is according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
- One percent of 12th graders nationwide have used crack cocaine in the last year.
- 3.3 percent of people aged 12 and over struggle with lifetime addiction to crack cocaine.
- Two percent of all 12th graders struggling with crack cocaine use have the propensity to lifelong users.
These crack addiction statistics are both up-to-date and frightening. Despite its peak nearly 40 years ago, crack addiction is still alive and well among the people of the United States. Getting it under control is the key to preventing the crack addiction statistics from getting worse throughout the upcoming years.