AM Healthcare

Cocaine & Crack Addiction Treatment


Crack and cocaine are two different drugs that are closely related. In discussion, the terms cocaine and crack are sometimes used interchangeably despite being two separate substances. The effects these two drugs have on a person are similar, but each also brings its own dangers of use.

What is the Difference Between Cocaine and Crack?

Crack and cocaine are two separate drugs, although they are closely related and often associated together. Cocaine is a drug often sold in powder form made from the coca leaves native to South America. Cocaine is most commonly snorted up through the nose or rubbed around a person’s gums. Some people may dissolve the powder in water and then inject the substance into their bloodstream.

Cocaine works primarily on the brain by drastically altering the amount of dopamine in the brain. In normal circumstances, dopamine is usually released and then absorbed back into the cell. When a person uses cocaine, the absorption process becomes blocked, so dopamine is continuously released but never absorbed back into the cells. This drastically increases the amount of dopamine found in the brain, leading to a boost in energy and good feeling.

Because dopamine affects the reward system of the human brain, cocaine can become addictive quickly. When the brain is flooded by dopamine due to cocaine use, the brain sees these effects as a reward which will often lead a person to crave the feeling in the future.

Crack is a different substance than cocaine, but one that is directly related. Crack is a human-made chemical compound that combines cocaine, water, and another substance, usually baking soda. This mixture is boiled until it becomes a solid, crystalline substance. The solid sheet is then broken into pieces, or “rocks.” Unlike cocaine, crack is almost always smoked. The name crack comes from the crackling noise the “rock” makes when heated during the smoking process. 

Because crack is created using cheap additives, such as water and baking soda, it is sold for a fraction of the cost of cocaine. While cocaine’s price usually makes it a drug for the wealthy, crack is one of the cheapest street drugs available. Crack is also far more potent than regular cocaine due to the chemical reaction that occurs when baking soda is added to the cocaine.

Signs and Symptoms of Crack and Cocaine Use

Cocaine causes a person to experience intense boosts of energy and positive feeling. A person high on cocaine may seem restless or erratic to those around them. If someone around you is displaying signs of cocaine use, it is vital that they seek medical help as soon as possible. Cocaine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug, and the earlier a person seeks recovery, the better chances they will have at recovery. 

Some signs to look out for if you suspect someone is using cocaine includes:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Lack of appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Energetic behavior
  • Upbeat feelings
  • Sensitive to light or sound
  • Paranoid behavior
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Twitches or tremors
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of smell
  • Nosebleeds
  • Asthma
  • Respiratory infections

Dangers of Crack and Cocaine Abuse

There are a variety of dangers and effects related to the use of cocaine or crack. Both drugs cause a person to feel a short burst of energy and positive feelings. However, the crash down from those effects can often be severe. As the effects wear off, a person may experience intense feelings of depression and sadness. They may immediately crave more of the drug as a way to avoid these depressed sensations, which can be dangerous in itself.

The more a person uses these drugs, the more difficulty they will have functioning as usual. A person with a crack or cocaine addiction often has a disrupted sleep and eating pattern. They might have insomnia or be restless for most of the night and rarely have an appetite. It is not uncommon for a person with a crack or cocaine addiction to lose drastic amounts of weight quickly due to a lack of food intake.

Because of the potency of crack, overdoses can quickly occur. If a person is used to using cocaine, they may assume the effects of crack will be less intense because it is so much cheaper. They may smoke a more considerable amount of crack to compensate without realizing that crack is a much stronger substance than cocaine is. This can be a dangerous and potentially fatal mistake.

Cocaine and Crack Addiction Treatment

Both cocaine and crack can be incredibly addictive and easily can create a physical and mental dependence. Depending on the severity of the substance use disorder, a person may require a detox program and the beginning of their recovery journey. Detox programs are designed to help a person work through the symptoms of withdrawal that can occur when drug use suddenly stops. It is always best that the withdrawal process occurs under the supervision and with the support of medical professionals.

Psychotherapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can be beneficial in the treatment of substance abuse. Group meetings, such as SMART Recovery or Narcotics Anonymous, may be helpful tools for people who find group support beneficial.


Cocaine & Crack Addiction Treatment Options

If you or a loved one may be suffering from an addiction to crack or cocaine, the first step is to seek a medical professional’s help. Getting help with addiction treatment is a vital step in the recovery process. Symptoms associated with withdrawal are often challenging and can be dangerous to face alone. Treatment facilities can help guide you through the initial stages of the recovery process safely and effectively.

At AM Health Care, we believe in finding the recovery method that will work best for you. Every person has different needs when it comes to addiction treatment, and not one thing will work for all people. We can find the facility and program that best fits your needs to receive the best chance at recovery possible. Please reach out to us at 818-383-1297 to learn more about substance abuse treatment options.

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