What is crack cocaine?

Crack cocaine is the name given to the solid form of powdered cocaine. It is referred to as ‘crack’ because of the cracking sound it makes when heated, and is typically found as small rocks that are off-white or yellow in colour. Crack cocaine has become increasingly popular among users as a cheaper, faster-acting alternative to cocaine because of the intense high it produces. It is referred to as ‘crack’ because of the cracking sound it makes when heated.

Crack cocaine symptoms and effects

The effects of smoking crack can vary from person to person because of the unreliability of its ingredients. Crack’s abuse rate is very high because of the intense feelings of pleasure it can produce. However, while it can cause feelings of euphoria and a heightened sense of confidence and sociability, the experience is incredibly short-lived. Alongside the appealing effects, taking crack cocaine can also result in a range of other physical and psychological changes. These include:
  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness
  • High body temperature
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nausea
  • Cravings for more crack
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Heightened alertness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Dilated eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
The above symptoms describe the immediate effects of using crack cocaine, though continued abuse of the drug can lead to negative long-term damage. Crack cocaine is most commonly smoked using a pipe which allows the user to easily inhale its fumes when the drug is heated. This method of use comes with several serious risks such as respiratory problems, shortness of breath and lung damage. It can also have detrimental effects on many of the body’s vital organs, particularly the liver, kidneys and heart. Regular use of crack cocaine can also compromise the immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Other dangers associated with long-term crack cocaine misuse include:
  • Depression
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Psychosis
  • Infectious diseases
  • Abscesses
  • Infertility
  • Irritability
  • Engaging in risky behaviour
  • Malnutrition
  • Tooth decay
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Apathy
  • Exhaustion
  • Respiratory failure
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

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What is crack cocaine addiction?

Addiction is characterised by the obsessive need to find and use certain substances, in this case, crack cocaine. Crack is extremely potent in comparison to powdered cocaine and addiction can develop rapidly, with an intense desire to continue using after just one hit. If you have become addicted to crack cocaine, then you may find that being without it can leave you experiencing intense cravings, irritability and increased anxiety. When you’re in the throes of addiction, it is often impossible to think about anything else, this compulsion and need for the drug is what separates addiction from general drug abuse.

Cocaine vs crack

For many years, cocaine has been considered a ‘middle class’ drug, while crack cocaine has always been associated with use amongst poorer communities. However, while their appearances may differ, there are no pharmacological differences between the two whatsoever. Cocaine is generally found as a white powder, while crack resembles a white or yellow rock, and the manner of use is different in both.

Both drugs produce different highs depending on the method of use. Cocaine can be snorted or injected, while crack is smoked. When substances are injected or smoked their effects occur much faster, resulting in a more intense but shorter high. When cocaine is snorted, it takes longer to feel its effects resulting in a longer-lasting high. Because smoking produces such an immediate and intense high, the risk of addiction increases.

The two substances also differ in the eyes of the law, which is considered strange when taking into account the fact that they are both chemically identical. If you’re caught in possession of crack cocaine, you run a higher risk of being sentenced.

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At Step-by-Step Recovery, we are dedicated to providing the very best quality of care for each and every one of our clients and our ultimate goal is to provide you with the tools you need to maintain a clean and sober life free from cocaine addiction.

Detoxing from crack cocaine

Once you’ve stopped using crack for a short while, your body will naturally begin to expel the toxins that have built up in your system over time. This is referred to as a detox. However, in doing so, your body attempts to adjust to functioning without the presence of crack, and, as a result, you may experience some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It has to be said that cocaine withdrawal is not as physically challenging as other drugs and is mostly characterised by the psychological withdrawal symptoms it produces. Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not as physically intense as withdrawal symptoms produced by other drugs, however, a medically supervised detox in a residential treatment centre is always recommended due to the challenging psychological aspects of withdrawal. These include:
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slowed activity or slowed thinking
  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts
  • Increased cocaine craving

While many people prefer to detox on an outpatient basis, there are some instances where an inpatient treatment program may be recommended. In particular, if you have health or family issues. In the interest of your wellbeing during the detox process, a residential detox is considered the safest option.

Each person’s experience with crack cocaine detox will differ depending on the severity of their addiction. The detox and withdrawal process rarely follows a consistent timeline; however, crack cocaine has a very short half-life, which means it only stays in the body for around 90 minutes. Once the effects have worn off and the drug is no longer in your system you may encounter what’s known as a ‘crash’ or ‘comedown’. Once the high has dissipated and the drug is no longer stimulating you, you might begin to feel depressed, agitated and lethargic.

Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms

As mentioned above, you may experience some mild physical and psychological symptoms during the detox process. These will ultimately depend on the severity of your addiction and whether you have any additional health issues.

Physical cocaine withdrawal symptoms might include nausea, vomiting, headaches, heart rate issues, muscle pain and exhaustion.

Possible psychological cocaine withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, depression, insomnia and paranoia. More severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms include seeing or hearing hallucinations as well as seizures.

Crack cocaine treatment by Step-By-Step Recovery

There are many different treatment options available for crack cocaine addiction. Before deciding on which one is best for you, you will need to take into account your work schedule and financial situation as well as any other needs you might have, such as co-occurring disorders or additional health issues.

While crack cocaine doesn’t present many dangerous withdrawal symptoms, residential rehab is recommended because of access to counselling and therapy as well as medication to cope with detoxification if necessary. Choosing to undergo treatment at a residential rehab facility also eliminates the possibility of relapse while you attempt to stay clean.

At Step-By-Step Recovery, we treat crack cocaine addiction using a combination of counselling and a variety of treatment therapies.

Our treatment programme is designed to help treat crack cocaine addiction holistically. This means that we focus on healing the mind, body and spirit with a range of therapies, proven to help in the treatment of crack cocaine addiction. These include music therapy, meditation, arts and crafts and yoga and massage.

Alongside our range of holistic therapies, we have several dedicated addiction counsellors who work hard to ensure that each client gets the most out of their stay. Our approach to addiction treatment means that you will receive a recovery programme specifically tailored to suit your individual needs. You can expect to take part in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), group counselling, one-to-one counselling, psychotherapy and 12 Step therapy.

At Step-By-Step Recovery, we’re aware that people have different experiences of addiction, which is why we believe that crack cocaine addiction treatment should be considered in the same way. Not all forms of treatment will work for everyone, which is why our therapists put so much into ensuring your programme is specific to you.


Although crack cocaine can produce intense feelings of pleasure, these feelings are incredibly short-lived, leaving users constantly chasing the feeling of intense euphoria. However, using crack cocaine repeatedly eventually weakens its effects due to the build-up of tolerance over time. The drug’s powerful effect on the brain’s dopamine regulation also contributes to its addictiveness, leaving users constantly chasing this high.
The method of use determines how quickly a drug reaches the brain. Crack is typically smoked, which means it’s absorbed through the lungs and into the bloodstream before reaching the brain. Once it hits the brain, your dopamine levels spike which is what produces the immediate feeling of intense pleasure. The effects of crack only last for up to ten minutes, which results in constant cravings and continued use. When the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of crack, it begins to rely on the drug to create feelings of pleasure and wellbeing and no longer does so itself. With more doses, you’ll end up becoming fully addicted to the drug.
Yes. After a while of no drug use, your body will naturally attempt to flush the remaining toxins from your body. However, this process isn’t always easy and can result in some withdrawal symptoms which often intensifies the desire to use. To prevent relapse and any further harm coming to you, it is recommended that a crack cocaine detox is completed under medical supervision.

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