Crack cocaine is a powerful, addictive drug. A lot of stigma and misunderstanding surrounds its use, yet dependence and addiction are surprisingly common. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over three percent of Americans have used crack.1

A large portion of these individuals have then struggled with substance use, dependence, and addiction. If you or someone you love struggles with a substance use disorder, no matter the drug, addiction treatment is available and effective.

What Is Crack?

Crack cocaine is a solid form of cocaine that produces a hard-hitting, short-lived high. This drug is a highly addictive illicit substance. It’s manufactured from cocaine using baking soda or similar substances, and it may also be cut with unknown and potentially toxic additives to add bulk. These additives increase the already high risks of using powdered cocaine.

Many potential side effects are physical, yet crack and cocaine addiction are primarily psychological. This means treatment and recovery need to focus on the underlying issues that may be encouraging addiction.

How Crack Addiction Occurs

Crack hits hard and fast. Its effects are felt almost immediately. The length of a high is then relatively short, lasting around fifteen minutes in most cases. Because it works so quickly and powerfully, users can become addicted after their first time trying crack.

Crack’s high created by the drug’s effects on dopamine levels and other brain chemistry. Users feel immediately happy and euphoric. These emotions are quickly followed by feelings of depression or restlessness. Individuals will need to use often to maintain the “good” feelings and avoid the bad.

The physical and chemical reactions to the drug are just one of several reasons individuals turn to crack and begin developing substance use disorders.

Some other reasons include the following:
  • Desire for the “rush” or sense of euphoria
  • Desire to feel in control, powerful or invincible
  • In response to unwanted emotions or past trauma
  • Desire to escape family conflict
  • In response to depression or other mental health symptoms
  • Because crack is relatively cheap compared to other street drugs

Each and every reason a person uses needs to be addressed in treatment. Every patient is unique, so every recovery journey must be too.


Signs of a Crack Use Problem

People use crack for a variety of reasons. While it can be immediately addictive, substance use disorders can also take time to develop. Signs and symptoms typically appear quickly and begin to seriously impact a person’s life. Some of these signs of a crack use problem include the following:

  • Increasing frequency of use
  • Increasing amount used each time
  • Selling belongings, stealing or engaging in other crimes to pay for more drugs
  • Paranoia while both on and off the drug
  • Restless irritability
  • Violent or erratic behavior
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Inability to maintain relationships or keep up with commitments

Users will begin to focus all their time and energy on getting high or maintaining their high. Crack is a relatively cheap drug, but its powerful addictive properties and short active period means costs — financial, physical, and emotional — quickly add up.

Diagnosing a Crack Cocaine Addiction

Simply noticing signs and symptoms of crack addiction isn’t enough. Get a professional addiction diagnosis to learn the best next steps. Addiction is a medical and mental health issue. Therefore clear guidelines for diagnosis are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This manual explains that a patient must exhibit three of the following criteria in order to be diagnosed with addiction:2

  • A physical tolerance to the drug that requires the user to smoke more and more in order to get high
  • Withdrawal symptoms as the drug wears off that include agitation, depression and sleep issues that are “cured” when the patient abuses crack
  • An inability to turn it down when it is offered or available.
  • An inability to cut back on the amount smoked daily or to stop using the drug entirely for any significant length of time
  • A devotion to the pursuit of obtaining and abusing the drug to the extent that other areas of life – relationships, work, school and hobbies – are avoided or eliminated completely
  • Indulging in criminal acts in order to get the money necessary to buy more of the drug
  • An inability to maintain a job due to increased absences, being late, or an inability to successfully find or interview for gainful employment.
  • Continued abuse despite the awareness that abuse of the drug is causing mental and physical health problems as well as a slew of other issues that are interpersonal or legal in nature

Drug dependence or a substance use disorder doesn’t have to be an addiction to still be serious and in need of treatment. A professional diagnosis is a useful tool for determining just what that treatment should involve.

Treating Crack Cocaine Addiction

Any addiction recovery plan begins with withdrawal and detox. Crack and cocaine have few withdrawal effects. However individuals often use multiple substances, and benzos, opiates and alcohol do have significant physical withdrawal symptoms. No matter the substance or substances used, withdrawal will involve psychological symptoms.

Crack detox is generally devoted to stabilizing physical health while patients work through psychological withdrawal symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to help balance some of these, but they are never a first approach to crack cocaine addiction treatment.

Benefits of Treating Crack Cocaine Addiction

Man talking to counselorAddiction takes a toll on the physical health, mental health and personal safety of users. Professional rehab programs help patients create long-term solutions for finding and maintaining a life free from cocaine.

They start by offering a safe, supervised environment for recovery. Patients receive treatment in a calming, sober atmosphere designed to promote physical, mental, and social health. Structured activities, meals, and free time are planned for patients alongside mental and physical health therapies.

Mental Health, Crack Addiction and Integrated Treatment

All mental health offerings will be tailored to treat any and all co-occurring mental and physical health concerns. Patients with a Dual Diagnosis such as addiction plus depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder will receive in-depth, comprehensive care. Addiction often stems from a desire to mask, manage or self-medicate mental health symptoms. When these concerns are treated at the same time as addiction, long-term recovery becomes achievable.

Even if an individual doesn’t have a diagnosable, co-occurring mental health disorder, he or she is often dealing with deeper emotional and psychological concerns. Emotional trauma, physical assault, childhood neglect, stress management issues, and anger management problems can contribute to the formation of a crack cocaine addiction. Any and all addictions have a psychological component, and no aspect of wellness can be ignored if a patient wants to find real, lasting recovery.

Intensive counseling – both in individual and group settings – can help recovering addicts recognize underlying causes of addiction, acknowledge triggers for drug use and discuss stressors and feelings that could otherwise contribute to relapse if unaddressed.

Crack Addiction Treatment and Physical Healing

Treatment needs to focus on the psychological components of addiction. However, it cannot ignore physical health and wellbeing. Addiction and drug use are dangerous. Individuals struggle with poor nutrition, unhealthy sleep habits, and internal harm stemming from the drugs themselves or from drug interactions or overdose.

Addiction treatment should include regular appointments with doctors who can test for a diagnose any secondary medical conditions that may have arisen over the course of addiction, such as respiratory problems, digestive conditions, or dental issues. These can be properly addressed as part of a person’s comprehensive, individualized treatment plan.

Finding Professional Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a real and serious health issue. It needs professional treatment, and you can find that professional treatment today. Reach out to Skywood at 269-280-4673 to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one address a substance use disorder and any and all co-occurring mental and physical health concerns. We’re here when you need us, so please reach out any time. All conversations are professional and confidential.


1Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2017.

2Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). 2013.