Pure cocaine is a powerful stimulant that is highly addictive and comes from the leaves of the coca plant. It has been used for thousands of years, and for the past one hundred years the purified chemical cocaine hydrochloride has been used in tonics and elixirs as a cure all for many diseases. Cocaine is a classified Schedule II drug in the U.S. and is sold illegally on the street where it is commonly known as blow, C, snow, coke or flake. It is usually mixed with other substances such as sugar, talc or cornstarch. Sometimes it is mixed with amphetamines or procaine, which is a local anesthetic. When cocaine is mixed with heroin, it is called a speedball. Crack cocaine is a processed form of cocaine that crackles when it is smoked.
Effects of Crack
Smoking crack causes a short-lived but intense high. After the high, the addict will feel edgy, depressed and will crave more crack. Continued use will cause a decrease in appetite and sleep and the addict will start to physically wear down. Crack use can cause a rapid heart rate that increases the chance of getting a heart attack. In addition, it may cause muscle spasms, convulsions, stroke, seizures, respiratory failure and complications leading to death. The addict can experience paranoia, anxiety, anger and hostility. Some short-term effects of crack use are: increased blood pressure and body temperature, contracted blood vessels, bizarre and aggressive behavior, intense euphoria, anxiety, depression, paranoia, cravings, psychosis, convulsions, seizures and sudden death from high doses.
The long-term effects of crack can cause severe respiratory problems such as shortness of breath, lung damage and bleeding. Damage to the heart, liver and kidneys are also pronounced. Severe depression and suicide can occur when the addict comes down from the high and cannot access more of the drug. Long-term permanent damage from crack use includes: damage to the blood vessels of the ears and brain, heart attack, stroke, liver and kidney failure, lung and respiratory damage, hallucinations, malnutrition, central nervous system impairment, hormonal disturbances, disorientation, delirium and psychosis.
Crack Cocaine Rehabilitation
Crack addicts are usually in deep denial about their drug problem, but once they understand the danger of their addiction they can be helped. Crack cocaine addiction has its own specific challenges such as biological changes in the brain in addition to social, familial and environmental problems.
Choosing the correct inpatient rehab facility is essential to recovery and the facility should have a professional team experienced in crack addiction. Proven successful treatments that address the problems of neurobiological, social and medical aspects of crack addiction should be used. If the patient abuses multiple drugs or exhibits any mental disorders, behavioral therapies or pharmacological interventions may be included in the rehabilitation plan.
There are no present FDA approved medications to treat crack addiction. The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) is working toward identifying and testing new medications in the hope of successfully treating crack addiction safely and effectively. Several medications have shown promise in reducing crack cocaine usage while others are targeting the brain disturbances that crack causes. A vaccine is being tested that may prevent crack cocaine from entering the brain and other research is addressing treatments of crack overdose.
Many behavioral therapies have proven to be effective in treating crack addiction recovery. Contingency Management Therapy has shown positive results in helping addicts abstain from drugs and remain in treatment programs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective in preventing relapse and teaches the recovering addict how to identify and correctly cope with triggers and emotions. Some programs encourage clean living by using a reward based system of therapy. The reward can be in the form of chips or points that an addict can redeem for movie tickets, gym membership, restaurants, etc. This method gives an incentive to the addict to remain clean from drugs.
Nutritional supplementation during rehabilitation may also be necessary to strengthen the body and certain medications may be given to help control some of the symptoms of crack addiction. Last, positive reinforcement and support of family and friends will assist the addict in achieving successful recovery.