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crack cocaine

Cocaine and crack cocaine have left such a path of devastation and lives lost or in ruins throughout our country and across the world over the decades to have become infamous in our society. Despite this vast public awareness and well-known reputation for destruction, cocaine and crack cocaine continue to be among the most popular drugs for recreational abuse. Of course, we have all heard of crack, but many people only know it by its name and reputation, not what it is.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is, of course, derived from standard cocaine, so we will cover that first. Cocaine is properly known as “Cocaine Hydrochloride” and is an extract of the coca leaf that grows and is found in parts of South America. For thousands of years, the native peoples of those areas have chewed the leaves of the coca plant for its simulative and somewhat narcotic effects.

In the early years of the 1900s, the leaves were brought to the rest of the world and a process was discovered to extract the pure cocaine hydrochloride form the leaves. And so the phenomenon of modern cocaine was born. Almost immediately after this discovery, it became a wonder drug, the main ingredient in numerous tonics, and cure-all elixirs of the time. It was even an ingredient in early formulations of Coca-Cola (which bears the name of the leaf from which it is derived.)

Cocaine has, of course, since been found to be very dangerous and highly addictive and has become a strictly regulated substance for specific medical uses. However, it has as we know, also become one of the most popular illegal street drugs on the market for recreational use as well. Its street names in addition to “cocaine” include coke, Snow, C, Powder, and Blow.

Cocaine is often diluted or cut with other substances such as corn starch, talcum powder, and baking soda to stretch the dealer’s supply and increase profits. Drug dealers are also known to mix cocaine with other narcotics to increase or alter its effects. This practice of diluting and cutting is one of the things that can make using street drugs so dangerous, as you can never be sure of exactly what you are taking or how strong it is before you take it. This makes the risk of accidentally overdosing very real.

So what is the difference between cocaine and crack? It all comes down to their chemical makeup. When the cocaine is extracted from the coca leaf, it also contains a form of salt called “hydrochloride” this is why standard cocaine is called “cocaine hydrochloride.” It is this salt that gives cocaine its ability to be dissolved in water.

Crack is cocaine that has had the hydrochloride removed through an additional heating and refining process. This makes it more strong and pure, not water soluble, and able to be smoked. The street name of “crack” comes from the crackling sounds it makes when smoked. Crack is also known by other street names such as rocks, base, nuggets, cookies, dice, and candy, among others.

What are the Effects of Taking Crack?

Because crack is most often smoked as opposed to cocaine which is most commonly snorted, the drug enters the user’s bloodstream more quickly. This produces a more intense but shorter-lived “high.”

The short-term effects that a crack user may experience include:

  • A rush of euphoria
  • Being in a state of elevated excitement
  • High energy levels
  • Feeling abnormally alert
  • Increased sense of self, delusions of grandeur
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Decreased appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • An intense craving for more of the drug once the high wears off

Many users of cocaine report that the first time they use crack they experience a “high” so intense that nothing else compares, and the rest of the time they use crack is spent fruitlessly trying to recreate that first high. When the high and feelings of euphoria wear off, many users report feeling the opposite. They feel keen depression.

Users also report feelings of intense paranoia. This paranoia can manifest as feeling like someone is trying to break into their house, or feeling that they are being followed, or that someone is out to get them. This can lead to unreasoning and unprovoked attacks or aggression against other people. Using crack over longer periods of time can have more undesirable effects on the user.

These effects can include:

  • Lung damage and respiratory problems from breathing the harmful burnt chemicals
  • Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
  • General paranoia and psychosis
  • Feeling anxious
  • General irritability
  • Unreasonable aggressive behavior
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden death from heart attack or stroke

Crack Cocaine Addiction

In addition to the risks above, all the standard risks of using such a highly addictive drug, of course, apply. These risks include:

  • Dependence. This is when the body grows accustomed to operating with the drug in its system and starts to need the drug to operate. This can be both physical and mental. The person feels that they need the drug to get through life. Once a dependence has developed, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms if for any reason they stop taking the drug.
  • Withdrawal. When a user stops using a drug upon which his system has come to depend, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of crack withdrawal may include: High levels of depression, strong physical discomfort, increased stress, anxiety, and worry, being highly irritable, and intense cravings for more crack.
  • Tolerance. As a user takes a drug like crack, over time their body will become depleted and the drug will have less of a high effect. They will need to take more and more crack to continue feeling the high they want. Increasing the amount of a drug that a user is taking, of course, also increases the chances of overdosing.
  • Overdose. This is simply when the user takes more of a drug than their body can handle at one time. Effects of crack overdose may include unconsciousness, coma, and death.
  • Addiction. Finally, there is addiction. This is when a user is compelled to continue taking a drug or other substance regardless of the negative impacts it has on them or their loved ones. Addiction is characterized by a strong, unreasonable need to continue drug use, to the exclusion of all else. Unfortunately, crack is known as one of the most addictive street drugs available.

What can be Done to Help Someone Addicted to Crack?

Because crack is such a powerfully addictive substance, it is recommended that those seeking help recovering from a crack addiction find a rehab facility that is set up to help them through what can be a very difficult and unpleasant but potentially life-saving experience. Such a rehab would typically be an inpatient care facility where the first steps would likely be a withdrawal and detox phase followed by counseling and programs designed to help the person gain skills and confidence in their ability to live a happy life again without the need to use drugs.

To learn more about crack addiction and to get help getting the best crack addiction treatment, contact New Beginnings today.

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