One of the scariest facts about addiction is that it can happen to anyone. As a child, no one dreams that one day, when they grow up, they will be stuck in the vicious cycle of addiction, and especially not crack addiction. However, all over the country, thousands of people every day set themselves on the path that leads to addiction that hopefully ends in inpatient treatment to get the help they need. At first they are just trying to experiment or let some steam off.
How Crack Addiction Happens
There is a large percentage of the American population who can attest to at least having tried cocaine at some point in their lives. For many people, it was the party days of college, and for some, it was even earlier. With that, most of these people probably never even thought about how closely related cocaine and crack are. They probably never considered that their weekend warrior escapades had the power to lead them into the grips of crack addiction.
Crack cocaine is widely noted to be far more mentally addictive than its powder formed cousin. Primarily due to the fact that the potency is intensified and the high is shorter-lived. This creates a greater need to continue using more and more often.
Crack addiction is not as widely discussed in the media today, as opioids reign supreme, nevertheless, it is real, it is just as addictive, and it can destroy lives in the blink of an eye. So if you are concerned that yourself or a loved one is struggling with a crack addiction, here are some signs to watch out for.
Odd Sleeping Patterns
Cocaine is a stimulant, meaning the user will feel energized, hyperactive, focused, and chatty. For those who have a crack addiction, this will be intensified as long as they are actively using the drug. It creates strange sleeping patterns, either staying up all night or sleeping all day. If you know that your loved one is developing odd sleeping patterns, either less, more, or not at all, it could be an indicator that they are abusing crack or another drug.
Drastic Mood Swings
Cocaine and Crack cocaine can create some very interesting mental side effects which can be warning signs to a developing crack addiction. Aided by sleep deprivation, hunger, and the erratic thoughts that come along with using crack, it can be helpful to pay attention to mood swings and other behaviors such as:
- Intense focus into odd activities (cleaning, organizing, rearranging)
- Hyperactivity followed by a crash
- Anxiety and Depression
- Speaking and Moving quickly and constantly
- Numbness (both emotionally and physically)
- Constant preoccupation with getting more
Change in Diet
Also attributed to the drug being a stimulant, crack decreases appetite in most users. This is why so many people who struggle with crack addictions begin to look gaunt, sickly, and frail. Many people who use crack every day can begin to eat little to nothing at all, until they come down when they most likely will become ravenous. If you are concerned that your loved one is struggling with crack addiction, it can be helpful to keep an eye on how often and how much they eat.
Running with a New Crowd
It can be helpful to analyze who you or your loved one is surrounded by when they go out. If you no longer see the same old friends, it could be an indication that something is going on. More often than not, someone who develops a crack addiction will require a group of friends and acquaintances that also participate in crack or other drug use. Pay attention to any gut feelings you get if you meet these new friends.
As with any other addiction, the financial aspect is usually one of the first warning signs. Since the high in crack addiction is so short-lived, it fuels the user to require more and more. Crack is considered to be one of the cheaper drugs, but for frequent users, it can add up to hundreds if not more, in a single weekend. This can lead the user on the hunt for more money in any of these tragic and heartbreaking methods:
- Stealing from family and friends
- Stealing from strangers
- Selling or pawning their belongings
- Selling their body
- Bank fraud
- Taking out loans
If your loved one begins spending large amounts of money in a short period of time, it could mean they are struggling with an addiction of some sort. If they are exhibiting one or any of the other warning signs, they could be struggling with a crack addiction.
Most people are aware of the term “speedballing”, where a user mixes uppers and downers together to increase their high. In this present day of opioids, speedballing is extremely popular. This means that many people who have a crack addiction can also struggle with addictions to other drugs such as:
- Sleep Medications
When used together at the same time, many users will inject a liquid mixture of both drugs into the blood-stream for an intense high. Other users simply use uppers throughout the day to stay functional and follow them with downers once they are ready to eat or sleep. Users who are very well versed in the drugs they are doing and how to do them, they will most likely be able to function fairly normally for some time if they have mastered the art of “controlling” their high with a variety of drugs.
Tools of the Trade
Frequent users and those with addiction will usually always have the necessary tools they need to get high within their possession or close by. It can be helpful to keep an eye out for certain drug paraphernalia such as:
- Glass pipes
- Chore (metal scrubbing sponge)
- Vinegar or lemon juice
How to talk to your Loved One
If you have begun to notice that your loved one exhibits some of these warning signs of crack addiction or is reaching a bottom, it can be difficult to find the right words to say to them. For many, the first emotion is fear, which can easily turn into anger. When approaching your loved one about your concerns, it will be most beneficial to try to avoid anger. Chances are, the user already feels abandoned, guilty, and ashamed due to their crack addiction. It is very important to try to have a civil conversation based in:
- Listening rather than demanding answers
- Trying to understand them
- Offering help other than money
- Setting boundaries if they are not ready to stop
- Realizing that for every drug addict, there is always an underlying reason as to why the NEED to use. This most likely stems from unresolved trauma, try to be compassionate.
It can be absolutely terrifying to watch your loved one struggle with addiction. There are other ways to get help, to keep them safe, and to promote an environment of recovery.