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crack addict
February 12, 2019

Signs of a Crack Addiction


Most people don’t think they will ever struggle with addiction, especially not a crack addiction. Addiction, in general, isn’t really at the top of people’s “When I grow up I want to be a…” list however, over the last few decades, addiction rates have been continuing to rise, and stimulant use continues to rise with it.

Cocaine is a commonly used party drug, but what happens when a cocaine addiction turns into a crack addiction? What are some common signs to look out for? When is it time to get help?

The Progression

Every addict is different, but many of the people who I have talked to or heard stories from in the rooms of 12 step fellowships share that they first started experimenting with cocaine either in high school or college. The stories are usually along the same lines; it was brought to them by a friend or a friend of a friend, and it was usually a helpful little tool in helping to keep them sobered up so they could drink more.

Some people don’t really mess with it much more than that, but others, like myself, discover a real obsession for cocaine. It is only once someone comes along to tell them that it is much more potent when smoked, that the beginnings of a crack addiction are formed.

  • Cocaine is in fact much more powerful in terms of a “direct hit” when it is smoked rather than snorted, and it creates an entirely different feeling high.
  • In this form, it is actually much more addictive because the highs are shorter lived.
  • People become addicted to crack because they need to continue chasing the original high from the first or second hit.
  • Crack use started during the War on Drugs and has continued to pervade, surprisingly, every corner of the recreational drug use world since then

When a person begins to spiral from a recreational cocaine user into a crack addict, the mental obsession has most likely already taken full effect. If you are concerned that you or your loved one might be struggling with a crack addiction, here are some warning signs to watch out for.

Spending Large Amounts of Money

Cocaine is not a cheap drug. Crack is considered a little cheaper, but for crack addicts, it can become expensive very quickly. When I was addicted to crack, I was working as a waitress in a busy cosmopolitan area. I would make at least $200-300 per shift, and by the time that I was getting ready for work the next day, I had spent all of my earnings on crack and a bottle of booze.

Not everyone smokes in these amounts, but many people who use crack also use other drugs to help them come down.

crack cocaine

Other Drugs

Since cocaine is a stimulant, people who are crack addicts often live in a state of anxiety of alertness. This is where other, sedative drugs come into play. Many people will use these sedatives as a way to either come down to get some sleep or just to take the edge off of the paranoia and anxiety. Some of these other drugs can include:

  • Alcohol
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opioids
  • Heroin
  • Barbiturates

The dangerous thing about mixing these drugs, is that the amount of cocaine ingested is still the same, regardless of how relaxed they may feel. When a person covers their high with other drugs, they can experience compounding effects from both drugs (most likely their goal) but this is actually the fastest way to achieve overdose levels. Since each drug will likely mask the physiological effects of the other, people may be unaware of how much they actually have in their system, leading to heart, lung and brain failure.

Sleeping Less

Again, Cocaine is a stimulant, and if there one thing that can identify a crack addict, it is the wild alterations to a normal sleeping schedule. People will often stay up for days on end if they are in the depths of a heavy crack binge, and if they don’t have anything to come down, they will sink deeper into the sleep deprived, anxiety-ridden psychosis that is crack addiction.

The Mental States

As was previously mentioned, a crack addicts’ mental processes will change dramatically from the time before use to the time of addiction. People who were once generally level headed and rational will turn into someone who is riddled with anxiety, paranoia, agitation, possible aggression, and desperation. These mental states are often fueled by the sleep deprivation but are also affected by the endless need of “more” that comes with crack addiction.

Many people who struggle with crack addiction eventually end up in that place of desperation for “more” which leads them into heartbreaking acts. We have all seen the typical depiction of a crack addict living on the streets, selling themselves for money. People also take up thievery, fraudulent checks, and selling the drug in order to continue being able to afford it.

Getting Off Crack

Unfortunately, many detox facilities are unwilling to take in people who solely have cocaine in their system. This can make it difficult for a crack addict to get the help they need. From my own experience, I was rejected from detox for crack use but then accepted at a later date once I had alcohol and benzos in my system, as these drugs are potentially fatal to detox from whereas cocaine is not.

Crack addicts suffer from more of a mental addiction, rather than the physical one that comes from heroin or alcohol, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging to quit. Since crack addicts become so completely obsessed with the ritual, the process, and the high that comes from crack, it can be really difficult in the first few weeks to not relapse. However, recovery for a crack addict is possible, and living a life in circles does not have to be the end.