Last Update: August 4, 2020

Crack is a variant of cocaine and the most dangerous kind. It’s a strong central nervous system stimulant and is made differently from cocaine. Here is all about crack cocaine – how it’s made, its history, and what you need to know about addiction statistics, treatment, and recovery.

If you or someone you love has an addiction to crack cocaine or any type of drug, we help you get back on track to a sober lifestyle. Our customized treatment options at Transformations Treatment Center ensures that you get a plan that is distinctly you.

Crack: Its History and How It’s Made

Crack first showed up in the United States in the early 80s – even as early as 1980 itself. This is due in part to the major amounts of cocaine pouring into the United States, causing a surplus. This surplus caused the price of cocaine to drop as much as 80 percent, and those in production and distribution took a loss. By converting regular cocaine into a powder that could be smoked, people could actually make more profits for a few reasons. Crack was cheaper to make, easy to use, and the profits were higher even though it was sold in smaller quantities.

According to Drug Free World:

The biggest surge in the use of the drug occurred during the “crack epidemic,” between 1984 and 1990, when the drug spread across American cities. The crack epidemic dramatically increased the number of Americans addicted to cocaine. In 1985, the number of people who admitted using cocaine on a routine basis increased from 4.2 million to 5.8 million.

Crack is created differently from regular cocaine. For example, crack is powdered cocaine mixed with water or baking soda. Some mix it with sodium bicarbonate or ammonia in the powder to make it more volatile. Regular cocaine is hydrochloride salt in powdered form. Simply put, one is snorted usually (cocaine) and the other is smoked (crack cocaine).

Even the effects last differently. For those who smoke crack, the effects are immediate and last five or 10 minutes. Whereas snorting or injecting traditional cocaine is not instant, although it doesn’t take long to react.

The big difference is in price. A basic example shows around $40 for a quarter of a gram of crack. For regular cocaine, you’re looking at around $150 for an eighth of an ounce. Note that a 10th of a gram of crack is called a rock and an eighth of an ounce of cocaine is called an 8-ball.

This is also why some are drawn to crack, because of its lower price and immediate reward.

Signs and Symptoms of Crack Use and Abuse

Crack cocaine has no pharmaceutical value and is strictly a recreational drug. People use it due to the euphoria it causes. Some claim that the first time they used crack was the best feeling in the world. The problem with this is that it feels so great that people spend time chasing that same feeling, which never happens. This causes someone to use more of the drug until they are hooked. Some even claim that you can become hooked on crack the first time you try it.

Cocaine is highly addictive as it is. With crack, the potential for abuse is even higher. According to How Stuff Works:

Crack and other addictive drugs chemically alter a part of the brain called the reward system. As mentioned previously, when people smoke crack, the drug traps the chemical dopamine in the spaces between nerve cells. Dopamine creates the feelings of pleasure we get from enjoyable activities such as eating and having sex. But in crack users, dopamine keeps stimulating those cells, creating a “high” — a euphoric feeling that lasts about 15 minutes. But then the drug begins to wear off, leaving the person feeling let-down and depressed, resulting in a desire to smoke more crack in order to feel good again.

Sure, not every person who tries crack will become addicted but it does have a strong potential for dependence.

The signs and symptoms of using crack include:

  • Euphoria
  • Dilated pupils
  • Intense cravings
  • Minimal appetite
  • Heightened alertness
  • Increased heart rate

Social effects of crack include:

  • Lying and stealing
  • Not wanting to hang out with non-users
  • Not enjoying friends who don’t use
  • Allowing work, family, and friends to suffer relationship changes

Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Intense cravings
  • Nausea
  • Depression

Crack Cocaine Statistics

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):

Abuse of cocaine in the United States has remained relatively steady since the early 2000s with a recent increase in cocaine use. This is most likely due to strict enforcement of methamphetamine abuse and individuals who wish to abuse stimulants seeking an alternative.

The numbers increased somewhat in the past few years. For example, in 2016, almost 39 million people over the age of 12 admitted using cocaine at least once. In 2017, these numbers increased to a little over 40 million. Again, in 2016, a little over 5 million people admitted to using cocaine within the year prior to the study. In 2017, this figure was almost 6 million. In 2016, almost 2 million people claimed to using cocaine at least once in the month before the survey. And again, there was an increase. In 2017, this figure was a tad over 2 million.

In 2016, almost 9 million people claimed at least one time using crack. In 2017, this number was almost 10 million.In 2016, over 880K people claimed past-year use of crack. In 2017, this figure was around 930. In 2016, over 400K respondents admitted to using crack within the month prior to the study. In 2017, this figure was almost 475K.

It is also important to note that the stability of overdoses was straightforward up until 2016 when those rates started to increase. Whereas the rate was under around 10K in the past, that rate increased to over 14K in 2017.

Crack Use Demographics

It was thought in the past that crack was mainly used by those with lower incomes or those who are minorities. This was due to the lower cost of crack as compared to cocaine. In fact, many people still associate cocaine use with those who are affluent and crack with those who are poor. Even though this is commonly thought, the statistics show otherwise. In 1991, statistics showed that the main users of crack were not minorities, but were instead Caucasian. And sometimes it is as simple as the user resorting to crack after having a cocaine addiction that becomes too expensive to keep up with.

Crack Addiction Treatment Methods

There is help available for those with a crack addiction. No one has to live with a dependence on this drug – or any drug. With crack addiction, the first thing is to stop taking the drug through detoxification. While this is done “cold turkey” there are medical professionals there every step of the way to ensure that you experience the least amount of withdrawal symptoms. There are medications that help with this and aid in allowing you to move to the next step, which is rehabilitation.

Once the acute withdrawal phase is complete, rehab includes therapy and other areas of help that increase your chances of living a sober lifestyle. These therapy options allow you to learn what triggers cause you to use in the first place and how to make different life choices that are conducive to your sobriety.

Recovery Awaits

At Transformations Treatment Center, we are able to provide a detox program through our facility Summit Detox and an individualized rehab program. We take a holistic approach that addresses the different ways addiction affects your life. No matter who you are, our individualized program ensures that you get treatment that is just for you and your needs. Once you have finished your rehabilitation, our aftercare program helps you remain drug-free and continue a path of sobriety and a healthier lifestyle.

If you feel that you have a problem with crack or other drugs, or if someone you love is suffering, we help provide a new path to sobriety. All it takes is contacting us as your first step.

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