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Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Crack cocaine is a major plague on cities across the US. In 2020, roughly 335,000 Americans used crack cocaine. As drug use soars nationwide, crack addiction accounts for many cases at treatment facilities in every state.

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What Is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is a freebase type of cocaine that emerged as a street drug during the mid-1980s. It’s generally sold in rocks, which users break down and smoke. Crack can also be dissolved with lemon juice or white vinegar for intravenous use. It first became popular as a cheap alternative to cocaine in impoverished neighborhoods in the coastal US. 

What Are the Effects of Crack Cocaine Addiction?

Drug abuse is bad for a person’s physical and mental health. The short-term effects of crack cocaine include energy, excitement and manic euphoria. Once the high wears off, the user feels irritable and agitated. The long-term effects of crack cocaine addiction include:

  • High blood pressure – Like other types of stimulant drug abuse (ecstasy, speed), crack cocaine causes bursts of manic energy and faster heartbeats. This can cause cardiovascular problems like arrhythmia, hypertension and heart attacks.
  • Central nervous system – Crack cocaine causes increased dopamine levels, which impact the limbic system and cerebral cortex. This can cause users to suffer insomnia, respiratory problems, hallucinations and seizures.
  • Brain damage – The impact of increased dopamine on the brain stem can cause brain damage over time. The more a user suffers hallucinations and other mental impairments, that damage has a cumulative, permanent impact on cognitive function.
  • Organ damage – As with any type of drug abuse, cocaine can have a domino effect on the function of internal organs, especially the lungs and kidneys.

As users grow tolerant of crack cocaine through constant substance abuse, the long-term health impacts become more pronounced and life-threatening.

Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine dependence is marked by intense cravings and a constant obsession with the drug. When a person with crack addiction can’t access the drug, he/she gets irritable and sometimes violent.

  • Physical symptoms of crack addiction – The addicted individual will feel intense physical cravings after the last high wears off. Hardcore crack users are often emaciated and disheveled with lines on their faces.
  • Psychological symptoms – Crack cocaine users become immersed in their drug personalities. They live for the drug, which takes precedence over work, family, friends or hobbies. The addictive behavior is often tied to an underlying mental health condition, which the drug exacerbates.
  • Visual indicators of crack abuse – People who abuse crack often have dilated pupils. Physical habits of crack users include grinding teeth, dry mouth and nosebleeds. If a person shows behavioral characteristics of crack addiction and also undergoes severe weight loss, that’s a red flag.
  • Behaviors of crack users – When high, crack users will often talk fast and give off a manic, over-excited vibe. Once the drug wears off, they typically have abrupt mood swings and may become easily irritated. People tend to withdraw socially when they become addicted.

Crack abuse spirals into addiction as the body grows tolerant of the drug and the user needs larger and larger doses to get the same high. Gradually, overuse impacts the internal organs. The dangers accelerate when people mix crack with alcohol and other drugs.

Therapy Programs for Crack Addiction

Crack addiction treatment involves therapy models based on peer support and reward for good behavior. Some of the most popular forms of crack addiction treatment therapy include:

  • Contingency management – Consists of a points system for people who abstain from crack cocaine. The patient submits to regular drug tests to prove his/her abstinence. When milestones are reached, the patient gets rewards (gym passes, movie tickets, gift cards).
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – Used to uproot negative subconscious beliefs that drive destructive behavior. Like all drug addiction, crack abuse is often driven by ingrained feelings of hopelessness and futility (“There’s no point in trying.”) Reversing these beliefs makes it easier to treat crack cocaine addiction.
  • Community-based recovery – Groups that host weekly meetings where people come to discuss their struggles with cocaine and triumph over temptation. These groups follow the 12-step treatment model of AA to help people beat crack cocaine addiction.
  • Addiction treatment support groups – Group therapy sessions held at drug treatment centers. These are part of the overall regimen and drug and alcohol rehab centers for people in the inpatient and outpatient treatment programs.

Therapy is a key component of crack cocaine treatment. It’s one thing to treat physical dependency with anti-addiction medication. However, recovering users need the psychological tools to conquer the feelings and behaviors that lead to crack abuse.

How do Doctors Treat Crack Cocaine Addiction?

Rehab centers across the US offer treatment for people addicted to crack cocaine. As with most substance use disorders, the treatment process for crack cocaine addiction consists of:

  • Medical detox – The first step in drug withdrawal is detox, where the person stops using cracks and commits to sobriety. During the first few days of detox, withdrawal symptoms peak. Crack detox is best done under the medical supervision of a clinical professional. Doctors may administer benzodiazepines to help suppress withdrawal symptoms.
  • Inpatient treatment – For most people, the next step in recovery is inpatient treatment, where patients stay for 30-90 days at a residential facility. Inpatient rehab helps each patient overcome his/her substance use disorder with wellness activities, mental health counseling and family therapy sessions.
  • Outpatient programs – Outpatient therapy covers the same ground as inpatient rehab, except the patient lives with family members and comes in during the day for rehab treatment. Outpatient programs include support groups, therapy, activities and education on substance addiction.
  • Aftercare – Most treatment centers offer ongoing support for people who graduate inpatient or outpatient treatment. Services include relapse prevention and moral support. For people who need to rebuild their lives after crack addiction, some treatment centers link patients with sober living openings and job-placement programs.

Addiction to crack cocaine is hard to break. Most people can’t do it alone. For people struggling with crack addiction and other forms of substance abuse, it’s crucial to enter an inpatient or outpatient center that offers evidence-based substance abuse treatment programs.

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Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Crack cocaine use is never safe or healthy. It swiftly spirals into addiction and impacts a person’s physical and mental health. Anyone who struggles with crack cocaine addiction should seek treatment from one of the inpatient treatment or outpatient programs throughout the US.

If one of your friends or family members struggles with crack addiction, get that person the help and emotional support he/she needs from a nearby treatment center. American addiction centers treat cocaine addiction and other types of substance abuse disorders. Your call could turn someone’s life around.

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