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What Crack Cocaine Does To Your Body 

Crack cocaine is a dangerous drug because it can cause drug addiction to quickly develop. It is highly addictive when smoked as crack rather than snorted as powder cocaine. In many cases, due to the imposed health risks from crack cocaine use, people frequently experience a combination of severe health risks as well as paranoia and aggressive behavior.  

Key Takeaways

Crack, commonly known as crack cocaine, can cause severe damage both physically and mentally to a person’s body. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Crack is derived from the free base of cocaine and is normally smoked.
  • Crack causes severe health risks to your body when used long-term and can even cause death from heart failure. 
  • Crack cocaine can cause extreme psychological effects that can cause injury to users and other people. 
  • Crack is extremely addictive because it produces a euphoric rush derived from amphetamines that only lasts 5-10 minutes.

Because crack is extremely addictive, people are at risk of crack addiction and suffer from physical and mental health.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine, commonly known as ‘crack’ or ‘rock,’ is a white or off-white powder made into a rock substance. Cocaine powder in its organic form is extracted from coca leaves in South America. Cocaine is produced as hydrochloride salt for medical use as a topical anesthetic. The ‘free base,’ known as crack, is a smokeable form of cocaine. Both crack and cocaine are white powders that are made into dried crystals that create crack cocaine. People are at risk of cocaine addiction because the drug is a highly addictive amphetamine. 

Crack Cocaine Use

Cocaine is typically snorted, whereas crack is a smokable form of cocaine. Smoking crack produces a quicker, more intense effect because it reaches the bloodstream and brain quickly. The effect is short-lived, only lasting 5-10 minutes, making the drug extremely addicting. 

The use of crack cocaine increases health risks that include:

  • Lung damage
  • Respiratory complications
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Psychosis

Immediate Effects of Crack Cocaine Use

Although people tend to feel euphoric from using crack cocaine, there are serious health implications from the drug. The initial euphoric feeling quickly turns into depression or paranoia. 

The physical and mental short-term effects of crack use are more intense than those of powder cocaine. These effects are common with users who abuse stimulants such as methamphetamine. 

Here are some visible signs and immediate effects of crack cocaine use: 

  • Euphoric rush
  • Increased alertness causing paranoia
  • Manic and erratic behavior
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Intense craving for another dose when rush subsides
  • Muscle twitches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Burns on fingers
  • Blistered or burned lips

When users experience paranoia from crack use, they often are convinced that people are trying to break into their homes, being followed, or that someone is trying to attack them. The effects of paranoia can lead to aggressive behavior or unprovoked attacks on others and put people in dangerous or violent situations. 

Long-Term Effects of Crack Cocaine on the Body

Because crack cocaine is typically smoked, the substance abuse causes extreme damage to the lungs and the entire respiratory system. For example, chronic crack smokers are at risk of acute lung injuries, commonly known as ‘crack lung.’ The drug use causes a lack of pulmonary circulation, which is when people have difficulty breathing or chronic chest pains. This can lead to users having permanent respiratory and lung damage. 

Crack cocaine can cause several other long-term effects on the body. Here are some physical symptoms of the damage: 

  • Extreme increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • Insomnia
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Strokes, seizures, or convulsions
  • Heart disease and failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Respiratory problems 
  • Oral problems – infection, tooth decay, and broken teeth
  • Sexual dysfunction and infertility
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden death due to heart attack or stroke

Crack may cause physical damage just from one use; however, higher doses and frequent use increase the severity of long-term damage to people’s physical health. 

White powdery substance on a black background. White text on red background, crack cocaine causes severe health risks to your body.

Psychological Effects of Crack Cocaine

Crack use causes a short-lived high where people experience the feelings of:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tension
  • Confidence

However, because these feelings are short-lived, people often abuse the substance and spiral into addiction. When the initial effect wears off, users go through the comedown phase, where they experience serious side effects such as depression, anxiety, and anger. These feelings often drive people to substance abuse and deepen their dependence on it. 

Drug dependencies cause people to neglect daily responsibilities and cause problems in their relationships, social circles, and professional lives. Over a period of time, regular crack use leads to users developing mental health problems such as the following:

  • Abnormal amounts of energy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Psychosis
  • Aggressive and paranoid behavior

Addiction causes people to develop psychotic symptoms from regular use. People may experience hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia for many hours or days from their last use. For example, a common hallucination known as ‘cocaine bugs’ is when users feel like something is crawling under their skin. This causes people to pick and scratch their skin, developing scabs that, when picked, can become infectious diseases. 

Withdrawing from Crack Cocaine

When crack is consumed regularly, users often become dependent on the substance. When people become dependent on the drug, their brain and body adapt to the presence of the drug in their system. If the user does not use the drug, they begin to experience drug withdrawal symptoms as the body begins to rebalance. 

Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Muscle aches and muscle spasms 
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Cravings
  • Diarrhea and fever
  • Suicidal thoughts

The duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms varies with people. People begin to feel withdrawal symptoms a few hours after their last use. Withdrawal symptoms can last for days or weeks. 

When to Seek Help

People who use crack cocaine and have developed a dependency should consider seeking addiction treatment if they want to get sober. It is important to receive professional help during the detox process as they can alleviate the pain from the withdrawal phase and help in treating the mental and physical damages. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How does crack cocaine affect a person’s physical health?

Crack cocaine severely damages a person’s body by constricting blood vessels, increasing heart rate, and causing intense stress on the heart that can lead to heart attacks, stroke, or death. It can also cause severe respiratory damage, including lung trauma and respiratory failure. Other physical effects include weight loss, malnutrition, severe tooth decay, and damage to the liver and kidneys. 

Are there any long-term effects of crack cocaine on the brain and nervous system of a person?

Yes, long-term use of crack cocaine can cause significant damage to the brain and nervous system, leading to cognitive difficulties, increased risk of stroke, seizures, and permanent brain damage resulting in abnormal mood swings and paranoid or aggressive behavior. 

What impacts does crack cocaine have on the cardiovascular system?

Crack cocaine can severely damage the cardiovascular system by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and arrhythmia – irregular heartbeat. It can also cause heart attack, cardiac arrest, and endocarditis – inflamed heart vessels that can cause stroke or death.

Can people die from an overdose of crack cocaine? What are the warning signs?

Yes, people can die from an overdose of crack cocaine. If individuals are experiencing seizures, extreme agitation, heart attack, stroke, hyperthermia, or intense hallucinations, they are at risk of overdose. 

Get Help Today at Indiana Center for Recovery

If you or a loved one is struggling with crack cocaine addiction, Indiana Center for Recovery is here to help. At our treatment facility, we provide multiple treatment options, starting with detox to help people feel comfortable, followed by residential and outpatient programs. Contact us today at (844) 650-0064 for more information. Take the first step now to live a healthier, happier life.