Crack Cocaine Signs & Symptoms

It is possible that you suspect that a loved one is currently using or abusing drugs but that you’re not sure. Or you may not know which drug that person is using, or how much. If you suspect that someone you care about abuses crack cocaine, there are a number of signs and symptoms to be aware of.

Signs and Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Abuse

When people use crack cocaine they are likely to do so in secret. This means that they may disappear every once in a while and then return like completely different people. Suddenly, they may be more confident and excited, and they may show an elevated sense of well being. You may also notice that their libido has increased and that they are very talkative. Their sleep pattern will also be disrupted and they lose their appetite. Crack cocaine has an intense but short-lived high, so these signs can be quite easy to spot.

How people use the drug can also be a sign. If they snort it, there may be traces of white around their nose. If they inject it, you may start to see injection points. Crack is most often smoked, however, so the telltale sign to look for are burnt finger tips or lips, which is caused by the heat of the glass pipes that they use.

There are some physical signs to be aware of as well. Their pupils may be dilated and some people experience photophobia, which means they are very sensitive to light. Other things to look for include discarded glass pipes, lighters that are broken at the top, and little bags with a white residue in them.

Specific Signs of Crack Cocaine Abuse

First of all, there are the signs in appearance, which include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • For snorters: runny nose and nose bleeds
  • For injecters: track marks
  • For smokers: burned fingertips and lips

Then, there are the signs to the heart, which can be confirmed by medical professionals but may also be detectable by you. They include:

  • A rapid heartbeat
  • An enlarged heart
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Cardiac arrest
  • A heart attack

There are also symptoms in a person’s mental state to be aware of. These include:

  • Overconfidence
  • Euphoria
  • Aggressiveness
  • Unusual excitement
  • Poor judgment
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions

Those who have binged on crack cocaine or have otherwise used it for a long time may experience:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Need for increased doses
  • Exhaustion
  • Apathy
  • Long periods of sleep

There are many different signs and symptoms associated with crack abuse. Crack is usually smoked, so you will find tiny plastic bags with white residue, and small glass pipes in places where people may have smoked crack. The high experienced is very similar to that of powdered cocaine but it is very short lived. In fact, after just 10 to 15 minutes, the high starts to dissipate and users will try to get their next hit. Burns from the crack pipe on their fingertips and lips are very common.

Because the effects of crack are so short lived, it is common for people to go on a binge. At this point, they are likely to start experiencing delusions, disorientation, antisocial behavior, paranoia, and aggressiveness. If they are addicted to the drug, they will be consumed with trying to get hold of more crack, and this will be the only priority in their lives, putting it before their health, their work, their education, or their family.

Long Term Signs to Be Aware Of

If people use crack for a long period of time, their health, both physical and mental, starts to deteriorate significantly. They often become agitated, depressed, nervous, and tired, but suffer from insomnia. It is common for people to feel an impending sense of doom or distress without being able to find a reason for it. Furthermore, their drug cravings will become so strong that these start to dominate their life. If they continue to use, they will also become tolerant of the drug, which means they will require more of it to obtain a similar effect. As a result, they often start to engage in criminal behavior to be able to afford more drugs.

When those who are dependent on or addicted to crack cocaine stop using it, they will also experience withdrawal symptoms. One of these symptoms is the so-called “crash”, which includes long periods of sleep, apathy, irritability, anxiety, and depression.

Recovering from a Crack Addiction

The sooner crack users can get help for their problem and leave the drug behind, the more likely it will be that they will have a positive outcome. They will suffer less physical and mental damage and they will no longer have problems with the law or place themselves at risk of accidents and overdose.

Unfortunately, there is currently no approved medication that helps to reduce the cravings for crack cocaine. Users may be prescribed anti-anxiety drugs in a controlled way, including benzodiazepines. These are addictive as well, however, so the effects must be monitored at every step. It is vital that users are supported through their period of detox and recovery. Some research suggests that positive reinforcement through rewards works, as well as being supported through a low impact exercise program with regular saunas. The sauna is particularly important because it helps to remove the last vestiges of the chemicals that are still lodged in the body. In fact, these residues can be found in fatty tissues years after someone stops using, and these can bring about cravings at any point. By truly ridding the body of toxins, therefore, cravings should be reduced, as should the likelihood of relapse.

It is also very important for users to be medically monitored regularly because of the stress they have placed on their blood vessels and heart. Crack is a very strong stimulant, causing the heart to speed up and constricting the blood vessels. This can be so strong that a cardiac arrest, stroke, or heart attack could occur. Furthermore, if people have used for a long time, they are likely to have a damaged or enlarged heart, which is incapable of efficient blood pumping. This is something that must be monitored for the rest of their lives.

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