Drug Trends: Crack Cocaine

What Is Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine and its derivative, crack cocaine, are illegal substances known as stimulants because of their effects on the brain. While cocaine is a powder that is either snorted or injected, crack cocaine has been treated so the user can smoke it instead.

Crack cocaine resembles small, hard shavings of soap or rocks. They may be anywhere from pink to white to yellow in color. Street names for the drug include rock, kryptonite, sugar block, apple jacks or simply crack. The name “crack” comes from the popping noise the drug makes when it is smoked.

How Does Crack Differ From Cocaine?

Someone may use crack cocaine instead of cocaine because it is faster-acting in the body. Crack cocaine is a purer form of cocaine, making it more potent. The very intense, high feeling it evokes can give way to a hard crash that makes a person want even more.

The high sometimes lasts 15 minutes or less, according to the University of Maryland, which is why crack is considered to be especially addictive. Young people are also especially vulnerable to the drug because it is typically less expensive than powdered cocaine.

Symptoms and Effects of Crack Cocaine Abuse

Symptoms of using crack cocaine are very similar to using cocaine, but just tend to be heightened. Users may experience:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Frequent bouts of anger
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Overactive or hyper personality, followed by an anxious or depressed "crash"
  • Loss of control over life, such as losing money, a job and friends
  • Weight loss

Abusing crack cocaine is extremely dangerous. The user will seek out more and more of it in an attempt to experience a stronger high. This can have deadly effects on his heart and body. While it can be hard to watch a young man in your life experience this addiction and see him push you away, it's important to encourage him to seek help.

Crack Cocaine Use in America

Crack cocaine use originated in the 1970s and reached its peak popularity in the 1980s. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, about one out of four people who use crack cocaine become addicted to it.

According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 0.40 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 report having used crack cocaine in the past year. An estimated 1.60 percent of people ages 18 to 25 will use crack in their lifetimes. The earlier a man starts using crack cocaine, the more likely he is to continue using it.

Crack cocaine use can cause serious withdrawal symptoms that may lead a person to continue using the drug to reduce them. An addiction to it can also be very difficult, but not impossible to break. This is why it is important that you encourage your loved one to seek help for his addiction.

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