Understanding Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine is a hard, mineral-like substance with an off-white tint. Crack is made by mixing baking soda or ammonia into the powder form of cocaine. This mixture is then heated with a lighter or torch until it heats into the the “rocks” known as crack cocaine. It is most often vaporized in a glass pipe (often called a stem or rose because they are sold with a rose inside of them) and inhaled, though some people use soda cans or aluminum foil to heat it. Many users also inject crack.
Crack cocaine’s name comes from the cracking or popping sound it makes when heated. Other names for it include: rock(s), base, candy, cookies, kryptonite, sleet, hard, or most commonly, crack.
Crack Effects and Abuse
As an illicit substance, any use of crack is considered abuse. Because it is smoked (rather than snorted through the nose), the drug reaches the brain more quickly, producing an intense and immediate high. This high, however, is short-lived.
The effects of crack cocaine include:
Due to its potency, there is a high risk of fatal overdose from using crack cocaine. Even someone using the drug for the first time can overdose.
The need to take more and more doses to prolong the short-lived effects of crack increases the potential of an overdose.
An overdose is typically preceded by dilated pupils and sweating. Someone who has overdosed may exhibit signs of anxiety, aggression, seizures, rapid heart rate, chest pain, nausea, seizure, hallucinations, and or stroke. Additionally, those with kidney problems or high blood pressure have a higher risk of fatal complications caused by smoking crack.
Addiction to Crack Cocaine
Crack is far more potent and addictive than regular cocaine. Therefore, an addiction to crack develops rapidly, and some people become addicted the first time they try it. Because the high they experience is so pleasurable—and so short—they need more of the drug to maintain it. Eventually, an addiction is born, and the user needs the drug to simply feel normal.
After an addiction to crack develops, the user needs more of the drug to feel its effects and will experience symptoms of withdrawal if they attempt to quit.
This happens because crack sets off excess amounts of the happiness-inducing chemical, dopamine, in the brain. Due to habitual crack cocaine use, he natural production of dopamine is diminished as the body becomes dependent upon
Strong cravings for the drug along with the desire to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms makes it very hard to quit. People addicted to crack tend to ignore the negative consequences caused by their drug use.
Turning to Crack
Crack is rarely used by the uninitiated. Many times, crack is used by people who are already addicted to cocaine. In contrast to cocaine, which many call the “rich man’s drug,” crack is fairly cheap. This makes it accessible to all types of people–especially those in particularly vulnerable circumstances. But as addicts need more of the drug to perpetuate their high, a crack addiction can spiral into a habit that costs between hundreds and thousands of dollars a week to maintain.
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Crack Abuse Statistics
Because crack is an illegal substance, statistics on its use and abuse are estimations based on the information that is available.
Crack cocaine was the primary drug of abuse in 178,475 admissions to treatment in 2006, representing 71% of all primary cocaine admissions to treatment that year.
Approximately 7,840,000 people in a 2004 survey had used crack at some point in their lifetime.
Regular” crack users (those who have used crack in the last 30 days) represent 0.2 percent of the total population.
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