Cocaine is highly mentally and physically addictive, and crack cocaine is an especially menacing form of cocaine. Smoking crack brings on an intense feeling of exhilaration because it causes the release of excess dopamine that is picked up by neurotransmitters. The high becomes so desirable to the pleasure centers, it is believed the brain begins rewiring itself even after the very first hit.
Someone using crack will typically have an elevated heart rate, dilated pupils, dry mouth, rapid breathing and tense muscles. They may sweat a lot.
Someone experiencing crack addiction will be hyperactive and overconfident, talking a lot and not sleeping. The effects of crack are not as long lasting as with powder cocaine, and therefore the need for another hit, and then another, will mean the user is often disappearing, going off to get high. The intensity of the addiction will make the person uncharacteristically irresponsible, and sometimes paranoid or aggressive.
Little bags with off-white rocks or residue may be found in places the crack addict frequents. There may be crack pipes of metal or glass found around. Crack addiction may lead to burns on fingertips from holding onto the pipe as it heats up, and smoking from a hot pipe can lead to cracked or blistered lips.
Work performance suffers from the restlessness of the crack addict, and because work tasks cannot compete with the allure of the high. Driving under the influence of crack is very dangerous as crack addiction may make a person feel invincible, or they may experience paranoia and hallucinations. A crack user may think there are bugs crawling on or under their skin.
The contents in crack are not always the same, which adds to the danger for users. Stroke, seizures, heart failure and severe breathing problems can result from crack use. Funding the extreme pull of crack addiction can lead some to theft or prostitution.
Over the long term crack addiction will typically lead to depression. Damage to the body’s vital organs such as the liver, kidney and heart lead to signs of premature aging, and possibly a compromised immune system.
Crack addiction is a dramatic example of life out of balance. The elation and agitation the drug causes are far outside of the more normal range of human ups and downs. While a body and a life are severely impacted by crack addiction, compassionate treatment is available and recovery is possible.
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