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Crack Cocaine: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to illicit substances, crack cocaine needs no introduction. This chemically engineered stimulant is infamous for its highly addictive properties and devastating impact on users’ lives.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the myriad consequences that this drug can cause or how easy it is to fall into an addiction cycle. Understanding the risks associated with crack cocaine use is essential to make an informed decision about using the drug or how to support a loved one struggling with drug abuse.

This article will explain what crack cocaine is, why people take it, and the dangers involved.

What Is Crack?

Crack cocaine is a dangerously potent form of the stimulant drug cocaine. Unlike the powdered form of cocaine, crack takes the form of a crystallized rock, usually smoked through a “crack pipe.” The federal government classifies it as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Crack is made by dissolving cocaine poweder in water and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).

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The white or tan pellets provide an intense, short-lived high that occurs immediately after use and disappears within five to ten minutes. Baking soda and ammonia are usually used to create the rock, heated and smoked.

Smoking Crack Cocaine

Smoking coke or crack cocaine has been linked to many dangerous health effects, such as chest pain, irregular heartbeat, extreme anxiety, paranoia, and even death by overdose.

Crack cocaine addiction is one of the most challenging habits to overcome due to its highly addictive nature and accessibility. It often leads users into lives of crime to support their habit.

This makes properly educating people about the risks of using crack cocaine so they can be better prepared if ever faced with this highly hazardous situation and avoid overdose.

How is Crack Different from Cocaine?

Crack and cocaine–known as “coke” by it’s street nam–are potent stimulants that have caused immense damage to relationships, lives, and communities. While both are very addictive and dangerous drugs, they have several differences beyond their names.

Chemically, crack is the freebase form of cocaine and has a slightly different structure than the cocaine hydrochloride typically found in powder form. Further, crack usually has a higher concentration of active ingredients than regular cocaine, making it highly potent and potentially more dangerous.

Crack is also usually smoked rather than snorted and is made by combining baking soda with coke which causes it to transform from a powder into solid chunks or rocks.

In terms of effects on the body and mind, crack produces an intense high that does not last long and carries a much greater risk for addiction than the powder cocaine.

Effects of Crack Cocaine on the Brain and Body

All illicit drugs, including crack cocaine, can have many long-term effects on an individual’s overall health. As a powerful stimulant drug, crack can cause severe damage to the heart, lungs, and nervous system without proper monitoring or care.

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Short-term effects of taking and smoking crack cocaine include:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Euphoria

Since crack cocaine also comes from the coca plant, it contains many of the same chemicals as cocaine powder. As a result, it can also cause many adverse effects, such as dilated pupils, constricted blood vessels, and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Meanwhile, the long-term effects of crack cocaine use can include the following:

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  • Respiratory problems
  • Lung damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart, kidney, and liver damage
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Chronic headaches
  • Seizures
  • Violent behavior
  • Other mental health issues like paranoia or psychosis

It is essential to be informed of the risks that come with smoking crack cocaine and to get help if you or someone close to you is battling addiction.

How To Recognize Signs of Crack Cocaine Abuse

Drug abuse is a serious issue that can have devastating consequences if not appropriately addressed. Recognizing the signs of crack cocaine abuse is vital to get help for a loved one struggling with addiction.

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Common warning signs of crack cocaine addiction include:

  • Changes in physical appearance: While users are often highly energetic, they may also display signs of weight loss or exhaustion.
  • Behavioral changes: Crack users can become aggressive and hostile and may start to lie, steal, or even break the law to get money for their habit.
  • Social withdrawal: As crack cocaine takes its toll on an individual’s physical and mental state, it is common for them to start withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Financial issues: Addicts may begin displaying signs of financial strain from spending money on crack cocaine or engaging in criminal activities.

Other signs may indicate that someone is struggling with crack cocaine addiction, such as changes in sleeping patterns, paranoia, and violent mood swings.

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If you or someone close to you is showing any of these signs or displaying abnormal behavior, it is essential to seek professional help.

Treating Crack Cocaine Addiction at La Hacienda

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction to crack cocaine or other substance, don’t lose hope — help is available. La Hacienda Treatment Center is well versed in addiction and alcohol treatment. For over 50 years our doctors, nurses, and counselors have helped many users get their lives back from the devastation of addiction. Each person can recover from this dangerous drug and other drugs.

Treatment Options for Crack Cocaine Addiction

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medically supervised Detoxification

The La Hacienda medical team is prepared to address crack cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms such as a high potential for cravings, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Those patients who need medically supervised detoxification are housed in the Special Care Unit.

All patients see a doctor daily throughout their treatment. They also have 24/7 access to the nursing staff for regular checking of vitals and any other medical issues, such as an increased temperature that might arise.

Residential Treatment Program

Licensed counselors who lead both group and individual sessions provide safe places for those struggling with addiction to share their experiences with peers.

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Professional addiction treatment therapists and counselors help patients examine the symptoms of their addiction and address potential relapse pitfalls such as strong cravings.

Dual Diagnosis and Co-Morbid Issues

Addiction coupled with a mental illness such as depression is referred to as a dual diagnosis.

People abusing drugs and/or alcohol may have a co-morbidity which enables the substance use or develop the co-morbidity due to the substance abuse.

The underlying issues contributing to addiction can include a mental health diagnosis as well as medical diagnosis.

For some who develop additional disorders, their overall psychological well-being must be addressed.


Crack cocaine is a serious drug with harmful effects. Those addicted to crack–or abusing drugs or alcohol–can get help end addiction and live a new life in recovery.

If you’re struggling with an addiction, know that there are people who want to help you and see you get better. With enough dedication from yourself and others, recovering from cocaine abuse is more than possible.

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If you’re struggling with addiction, call La Hacienda and talk with one of our trained admission specialists.

La Hacienda Addiction Treatment Center offers the support and resources needed for a successful recovery.