Crack Long-Term Effects
What Is Crack Cocaine?
Effects of Long-Term Crack Use on the Body
Effects of Long-Term Crack Use on the Mind
Other Consequences of Long-Term Crack Use
Finding a Crack Treatment Facility
Learn More and Find Addiction Help
People who use crack are often seeking an intense euphoric high and, perhaps, a temporary escape from personal problems that they can’t cope with.
However, these fleeting highs are often replaced with longer-term devastation in many areas of their life.
Unfortunately, the allure of crack is tough for many to resist, and the drug is so powerful that it’s quite possible to become addicted after the first time it is used.
Eventually, the slippery slope of addiction can develop into long-term drug use – a destructive pattern of behavior that can ultimately lead to a range of health issues and personal damage.
What Is Crack Cocaine?
Crack cocaine is the most commonly used form of “freebase” cocaine. While crack cocaine is most commonly smoked, it may also be snorted or injected. This is in contrast to hydrochloric salt forms of cocaine that can’t be as easily smoked, and are more frequently used via the other routes of administration.
Both cocaine forms come from the Erythroxylum coca plant that is native to the Andes Mountain regions of South America. While pharmaceutical cocaine exists, and is scheduled for some medical use, the bulk of the drug that makes its way to the U.S. is found on the illicit market. All forms of cocaine, when abused, can quickly lead to addiction and its associated ills.
According to The Partnership at Drugfree.org, many people enjoy the effects of crack after smoking it, as it gives an individual increased alertness and energy. However, the high lasts only until the drug leaves the brain, which can be only five to 10 minutes. This means that in order to continue to feel the effects, one must continually smoke it. When the high goes away, the person feels a “crash” that may include excessive tiredness, irritability and depression. Because of this, crack is often used in binges and in increasingly higher doses, which makes a person prone to overdose.
Short-term Effects of Crack Use
Although being high on crack feels pleasurable to many people, it comes with many drawbacks. Crack is especially bad for your health. According to The Partnership at Drugfree.org, crack can cause many negative effects, including dilated pupils, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, restlessness, and a rise in blood pressure and body temperature. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, crack can also cause nausea, stomach pain and headaches. It can also cause a loss of appetite, which can leave a body malnourished. Crack can also constrict blood vessels and cause an increase in heart rate, which can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Either of these conditions can cause sudden death. In fact, many deaths related to cocaine use are because of heart attacks and seizures.
Effects of Long-term Crack Use on the Body
If you have used crack over a long period of time, you can expect to see a number of physical changes occur. Among other organ systems, these changes can affect:
- Your brain.
- Your heart.
- Your lungs.
- Your nose.
1. Crack’s Effects on Your Brain
Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t forget the damage done from using crack. Long-term effects on the brain may include1-6:
- Structural and functional brain abnormalities (worsened memory and attention span).
- Compromised dopamine production and activity throughout the brain.
- Movement disorders.
- Seizures, strokes and the potential for irreversible brain damage.
- Brain aneurysm (abnormal dilation of a blood vessel) and brain hemorrhage.
Crack, as an excitotoxic stimulant, is capable of killing brain cells and can cause persistent changes to various neural pathways. Crack can cause seizures – even in first-time users.
Crack’s intense circulatory system influence can precipitate strokes, which can create even more irreversible brain damage. Your risk of a brain aneurysm (abnormal dilation of a blood vessel) also increases, which can lead to a deadly brain hemorrhage.
2. Effects on Your Heart
Another long-term effect of crack use is extensive damage to your heart. Damage to the cardiovascular system may manifest as7-10:
- Chest pain.
- Elevated heart rate.
- Elevated blood pressure.
- Increased resistance in the body’s blood vessels.
- Increased risk of heart attacks.
- Increased risk of cardiac arrhythmias.
- Increased risk of sudden death.
Long-term crack use is also associated with ventricular hypertrophy – which is an enlargement of the heart wall. This can lead to an increased risk of heart arrhythmias, heart attack and congestive heart failure.
Coronary atherosclerosis may also develop from long-term crack use. Coronary atherosclerosis is the hardening of your arteries – and spasms near these hardened areas can deprive the heart of blood, resulting in ischemic chest pain and, ultimately, myocardial infarction.
3. Effects on Your Lungs
Lung problems are a common long-term risk of crack use. The type of lung problems you will experience depend on the route of drug administration you’ve been using and may include any of the following11-13:
- Shortness of breath.
- Coughing up sputum.
- Coughing up blood.
- Chest pain.
More unusual lung complications that may result from long-term crack use may include:
- Pulmonary hemorrhage (bleeding of the lung).
- Pneumothorax (a collapsed lung).
- Pulmonary edema (accumulation of fluid in the lungs).
- Thermal airway injury (from the heated vapor).
- Pneumomediastinum (abnormal presence of air in the space between the lungs).
You may suffer severe respiratory problems such as a chronic cough, bleeding from the lungs, or you may have “air hunger” which makes you feel as if you aren’t getting enough air into your lungs. Air hunger is very distressing and can lead to panic attacks because it can make you feel as if you are suffocating or dying.
4. Effects on Your Nose
Depending on your method of using crack cocaine, long-term abuse can result in severe damage to the tissue – and even the structure – of your nose. Snorting crack cocaine can result in nasal damage that may include3,14:
- Perforated nasal septum (a tear or hole in the cartilage bridge between your nostrils).
- Chronic rhinitis (irritation and inflammation of the nasal tissue).
- Sinus infections.
- Ulcers in the throat.
- Nasal tissue death, due to narrowing of the blood vessels and insufficient oxygen.
- Anosmia, or loss of smell.
Nasal insufflation of all forms of cocaine can create holes in your nasal septum. These holes may be small or large and can lead to serious infections.
You could also destroy your nasal septum completely and cause permanent disfiguration to your facial features. This damage can make it difficult to breath. In fact, some chronic crack users are only able to breath through their mouth.
Chronic sinus infections, chronic runny nose and frequent nosebleeds may also develop due to the damage in your nasal lining. Some individuals even lose their ability to smell, which can impact the ability to enjoy food.
Effects of Long-term Crack Use on the Mind
Long-term use of crack also causes severe mental problems. Some of the mental health problems that may result include15:
You may suffer from a deep, crushing depression that causes you to lose interest in life.You may begin to suffer from paranoia and hallucinations – developments that may persist long after you abstain from crack.
You may lose the ability to feel pleasure since crack affects the reward centers in the brain. You may even become violent and aggressive.
Other Consequences of Long-term Crack Use
While long-term crack use can cause devastating damage to both your physical and mental health, it can also wreak havoc on your personal life – from relationships with family and friends to performance at work and in school.
Other long-term physical effects are not related to addiction or withdrawal, however. For instance, crack can cause sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Both men and women can become infertile as the drug damages the reproductive systems.
Cocaine use, including crack use, can cause individuals to make risky choices in their lives that can lead to diseases such as hepatitis B and C, HIV and AIDS.
Damage to Personal Life
Problems from long-term crack use affecting your personal life can be far-reaching:
- Broken relationships with family and friends.
- Losing the trust of those you love if you have lied and stolen from them in order to get more crack.
- Poor performance at work or school.
- Losing your job, vehicle, home, significant other and kids.
- Financial destruction from using your money to pay for your drug use.
- Increasing your risk of becoming homeless.
- Being thrown in prison or jail for years due to your crack habit.
Is It Really Worth It?
With the consequences of long-term crack use being so pervasive in so many aspects of your life, you have to ask yourself if continued drug use is really worth it.
In the end, you deserve a better quality of life – from your health to your relationships to your career and general wellbeing.
You need to start believing that you are worth it and that recovering from your addiction is really possible.
Perhaps you still need some help believing these things. And that’s ok. We are here to help you see these truths and to lend you a hand to help you see what options and hope you have for recovering. Call 1-888-744-0789 Who Answers? to speak with one of our caring recovery advisors today.
Do You Need Help for Crack Addiction?
Denial can be a strong deterrent to getting the help you need for a drug or alcohol addiction. Admitting that you have a problem with drug addiction is not an admission of weakness or failure. Addiction is a disease, and like any disease, it can be treated. How do you know if you have an addiction to crack cocaine? Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of them, give us a call and let us help you find the best private residential crack addiction treatment center that can help you to stop using cocaine today.
- Been unable to stop using crack once you’ve started?
- Experienced withdrawal symptoms that have caused you to give up sobriety and return to using crack?
- Chosen to use crack rather than go to work, go to school or otherwise meet your obligations?
- Driven a car while under the influence of crack cocaine?
- Continued to use crack cocaine despite harmful consequences to your health, your lifestyle or an experience with pending legal problems?
If you or someone you love is experiencing the disease of addiction to crack or any other form of drugs, contact us right away so we can help you find the resources you need. It is possible to reclaim your life and the lives of those you love through evidence-based treatments with experienced and trained professionals.
Finding a Crack Treatment Facility
When you find yourself ready to start exploring your crack addiction treatment options, it will be helpful for you to understand a few of the different addiction treatment facility types that are available to you:
- Luxury rehab facilities offer 24/7 residential addiction treatment care alongside a range of high-end, resort-like amenities to make your recovery more comfortable.
- Executive rehab facilities offer the same care and many of the same extra amenities that luxury programs offer – only they also provide special resources and program structures to accommodate busy professionals who need to remain actively involved in the workplace during recovery.
- Traditional or standard rehab facilities offer quality addiction recovery care but without the extra amenities or costs that come with luxury facilities. Both inpatient (residential) and outpatient (non-residential) treatment options are available.
Learn More and Get Help for Your Addiction
You are worth it.
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- de Almeida, R. R., de Souza, L. S., Macano, A. D., Souza, A. S. Jr., Irion, K. L., Nobre, L. F., et al. (2014). High-resolution computed tomographic findings of cocaine-induced pulmonary disease: a state of the art review. Lung, 192(2), 225-33.
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