Crack abuse can mental health problems, cardiovascular complications and sudden death. When snorted, a person faces additional risks carried by this invasive method of use. Snorting crack can harm the nose, even going so far as to cause permanent damage.
Occasional crack cocaine use is dangerous, however, the longer a person uses this drug, the greater the possibility of serious adverse health effects. Drug addiction treatment treats many of the physical, mental, behavioral and social changes caused by crack cocaine abuse.
What Is Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is an extremely potent form of cocaine. Also referred to as freebase cocaine, crack is made by processing powdered cocaine with other chemical compounds. What results is a rock-like crystal that is yellowish to white in color. When abused, crack is typically smoked. This process causes the drug to make crackling noises, hence the name.
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Crack is the most addictive form of cocaine. While smoking the substance is one reason that crack is so addictive, crack in any form is still more addictive than powdered cocaine.
Crack is a stimulant drug or “upper.” This means that it speeds up a person’s central nervous system, causing important life-support systems to work faster and harder. This shift causes blood pressure, breathing, heart and temperature rates to climb. Crack’s stimulant properties can also cause a person’s mental and emotional states to become erratic and unpredictable.
The Difference Between Snorting And Smoking Crack
When crack is snorted the drug takes longer to travel to the brain than it does when smoked. When a person snorts cocaine it moves from the nose, to the heart, to the lungs and back to the heart before it reaches the brain. When smoked, cocaine goes straight from the lungs, to the heart and then to the brain.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the quicker an addictive substance reaches the brain, the greater the likelihood that a person will abuse it. This means that the sense of reward or pleasure experienced from smoking crack cocaine happens quicker than it does with snorting it. Despite this, snorting crack can and does lead to addiction.
Why Do People Snort Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is used to create a high or euphoric state that is accompanied by surges of energy, happiness, and mental alertness. A person may snort crack instead of smoking it to try something different or because they do not have the necessary equipment, or paraphernalia, to smoke it. Snorting crack is also referred to as insufflation.
Some people may feel that snorting crack is safer or that it protects them from crack’s addictive properties. This is a dangerous misconception. While smoking crack does allow the drug to make its way to the brain more rapidly, snorting the drug still carries the risk of addiction, overdose, and crack-related adverse health problems.
Signs Of Crack Cocaine Abuse And Addiction
Crack’s stimulating properties cause a person’s body and mental functions to quicken and change, often to the point of overdrive. As this happens, many of crack’s side effects are quite visible to an outside observer. Others, such as changes caused to vital life support systems, may only be apparent to the person abusing the drug.
Physical signs of crack abuse include:
- Dilated (widened) pupils
- Excessive energy
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased body temperature
- Increased breathing rate
- Increased heart rate
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Little to no appetite
- Muscle twitches
Mental signs of crack abuse include:
- Extreme happiness
- Shifting moods
If crack abuse is suspected, seek help immediately. Prompt treatment gives a person the greatest opportunity for a successful recovery and it could save a life.
The Risks And Dangers Of Snorting Crack Cocaine
Snorting crack causes a wide variety of short- and long-term physical and mental health problems. Crack releases large amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that creates the sense of reward and pleasure that fuels addiction. Because of this, crack addiction and tolerance can happen after a person uses the drug a single time.
In addition to addiction, crack can cause great mental instability. This can put both the person abusing the drug and those around them at risk. Mental problems caused by crack abuse include:
- Mood disturbances
- Severe depression
Crack cocaine abuse greatly stresses a person’s heart and cardiovascular system. Certain cocaine-induced cardiac complications can cause death. In addition to cardiac arrest, using crack can lead to various types of cardiovascular disease, including arrhythmia, congestive heart failure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Other physical risks and dangers of crack cocaine abuse are:
- Birth defects
- Brain bleeds
- Brain seizures
- Dental problems
- Extreme weight loss
- Fatal overdose
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Parkinson’s disease
- Reproductive problems
- Sexual dysfunction
Snorting crack is very invasive to the nose’s delicate tissues. Using the drug this way can cause inflammation and serious or chronic nasal problems. Some of these may be permanent. These risks include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bloody nose
- Bone loss
- Collapsed nasal passages
- A hole between the nostrils (perforated septum)
- Loss of smell
- Sinus infections
- Voice changes
Additionally, crack cocaine abuse can expose a person to potentially deadly transmissible diseases, like hepatitis C and HIV. Recent research found that crack cocaine could encourage the progression of HIV to AIDS.
Crack Is Even More Dangerous When Mixed With Other Drugs
Cocaine is frequently mixed or cut with other substances, many of which themselves are harmful. This can include other drugs. A person may not be aware that these substances are present, a fact that can make crack even more dangerous and up the potential for deadly overdose.
When snorted, certain chemical fillers may cause additional irritation to the nose. But in the most severe of cases, cocaine may be cut with other potent and addictive drugs, mainly opioids.
Cocaine-related deaths were on a steady decline, however, over the past several years these deaths have been on the rise. Experts believe this increase is quite likely due to potent opioids being laced into cocaine, such as heroin and fentanyl.
For instance, in the summer of 2018, in Philadelphia, 20 people overdosed on fentanyl in just two weeks. Authorities suspected that many people who died were cocaine abusers, not opioid abusers, leading them to believe that fentanyl-tainted crack could be to blame.
Some people intentionally snort crack cocaine and heroin together to intensify the euphoric feelings associated with these two drugs. And according to the DEA’s 2017 National Drug Threat Assessment, when fentanyl is present with cocaine it is usually for this same purpose. Despite this, a person may unknowingly use crack that’s been cut with heroin or fentanyl. The DEA also notes that carfentanil, a drug 100 times more potent than fentanyl, has been found in cocaine.
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Getting Help For Crack Cocaine Addiction
Crack cocaine addiction treatment addresses the physical, mental, social and behavioral effects of drug abuse. The exact combination of therapies used will vary person to person and be dependent on a person’s level of addiction and life circumstances. While some people may find success in an outpatient program, inpatient drug rehab programs typically provide more intensive, supportive care.
Crack cocaine dependencies don’t always require a medical detox, however, should withdrawal symptoms become severe, this medically supervised care may be beneficial for a person’s safety. Withdrawal from crack can lead to depression, cravings, overdose and suicide, a fact that makes medically supervised treatment even more imperative for certain individuals.
Since crack abuse can cause anxiety, depression and other mental health problems, dual diagnosis treatment may be recommended to treat these co-occurring disorders. These programs treat both the addiction and mental illness so that a person has the greatest chance of recovery success.
Recovery from crack cocaine addiction is possible. Contact Vertava Health to learn more.