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Crack Cocaine Dependence – Signs of Crack Cocaine Use Vs. Abuse, Tolerance

Crack cocaine provides brain stimulation that can be intensely pleasurable, but this drug can also be extremely dangerous. The line between using and abusing crack cocaine can be difficult to discern, especially since some users may become addicted after only a single hit. Some signs that crack cocaine use is a problem include a loss of interest in other activities that formerly provided pleasure, spending large amounts of money on crack cocaine, and feeling that using crack cocaine is the only way to feel normal or not depressed. Someone addicted to crack cocaine may withdraw from friends and family, preferring to be alone or surrounded by other crack cocaine users.

Is Crack Cocaine Addictive?

How Addictive is Crack Cocaine? Crack cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance, both physically and psychologically. Many people who use crack cocaine find it difficult to stop on their own, but can quit successfully when immersed in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. If you or someone you know is interested in reducing cocaine dependence, fill out our form or call 1-888-803-9961 Who Answers? for more information about how to quit using this drug for good.

Understanding Crack Cocaine Dependency and Tolerance

Crack cocaine dependence can develop over time, or it can form with the first use of crack cocaine. Physical dependence on crack cocaine develops when the brain’s normal reward system is altered by repeated use of the drug. In the normal brain, cells release dopamine whenever they encounter something pleasurable. Within a few minutes, however, these neurons clear out the dopamine from the spaces between cells. This lets the brain respond to other pleasurable things that might be encountered later. Cocaine interrupts the normal uptake of dopamine by brain cells, so dopamine builds up in the spaces between cells and continues to stimulate them for much longer than normal. In long-term crack cocaine users, the brain cells adapt to require more and more stimulation. The user feels a need to get high in order to feel any pleasurable sensation at all, and eventually begins to require more and more crack cocaine to get the same effect.
Psychological dependence occurs because people who use crack cocaine often associate it with a certain lifestyle they enjoy. Many users choose to get high in the company of others, so the drug becomes associated with good times and good friends.

Effects/Side Effects

Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine is one of the most abused drugs in America, according to an eMedicine Health website article. Is cocaine addictive? Despite popular opinion to the contrary, yes, cocaine is highly addictive. While it may not cause the same kind of physical withdrawal symptoms as other drugs, it has powerful psychological addictive qualities. Cocaine has a relatively short-term high, which usually leaves the user craving for more.

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The short-term effects of crack cocaine tend to be pleasurable, although there can be significant health risks with even a single use. A crack cocaine high feels quite intense. The user may experience a feeling of euphoria. Increased mental alertness, reduced fatigue, and increased energy are all hallmarks of crack cocaine use. These pleasurable effects stem from the drug’s interaction with the dopamine centers of the brain. When taking crack cocaine, the user typically starts feeling an effect within a few minutes of smoking the drug because crack cocaine reaches the bloodstream and brain quickly. However, the effects only last a short period of time. Most users start coming down from crack cocaine within five to 10 minutes after the high begins. For the high to continue, the user must take more crack cocaine immediately. In some cases, a higher dose may be required each subsequent time to get the same effect as the first hit. The stimulant effect of crack cocaine takes a toll on the heart and other organs. Even a single hit of the drug can trigger a heart attack, respiratory failure, or a stroke. In some cases, these serious side effects can cause death.  The long-term effects of crack cocaine can also be extremely dangerous. Some users develop a hole in the septum, the structure inside the nose that separates the two nostrils. Another possible side effect of crack cocaine use is a loss of sexual function. Over the long term, crack cocaine use can cause damage to the heart, lungs, brain, and digestive tract, even if no problems are apparent while actively using the drug.

Withdrawal and Detoxification

Withdrawal from crack cocaine can begin within hours after someone stops taking it. Symptoms of withdrawal may last up to seven days. Withdrawal symptoms may include depression, suicidal thinking, extreme agitation, and nervousness. The addicted individual may also experience strong cravings for the drug.

Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine abuse treatment typically involves a period of detoxification, in which the drug is cleared from the body, followed by an intense program of counseling during which the drug user learns to live without the drug.