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Why Is Crack So Addictive?

by | Last updated Jul 30, 2020 at 9:01PM | Published on Jun 18, 2014 | Drug Addiction

Why is crack so addictive

Crack is the crystal form of cocaine from the coca plant native to South America. It’s a powerful stimulant that’s misused and abused by users of all ages and walks of life. But, why is crack so addictive?

Blame the effects of crack for its addictive spirit. It’s intense and short-lived, usually lasting around fifteen minutes. This short-term euphoria is very pleasurable, and people can become addicted very quickly.

There are two chemical forms of cocaine: the water-soluble hydrochloric salt, and the water-insoluble cocaine base. To produce this base, people mix cocaine with ammonia or baking soda and heating it to remove the hydrochloride.

What’s Crack Cocaine?

Cocaine comes from the coca plant and is available in powder and rock forms. The rock presentation is what we all know as crack or crack cocaine. When people combine cocaine with water and other substances like baking soda, it turns into a solid form. Then, people break this into smaller pieces to sell on the streets as crack. 

The name derives from the crackling sound it makes when people heat the drug to smoke it. Crack is highly concentrated, which makes it extremely addictive. Some people can even become dependent on crack after one use. 

The Effects of Crack on Dopamine Levels

Crack is a strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, which increases the amount of dopamine in parts of the brain that regulate pleasure and movement. In a healthy brain, dopamine is released as a response to a potential reward. When someone takes crack, the surge of dopamine levels is such that it causes an intense euphoria that the brain decodes as something good. 

According to some studies, crack could effectively rewire the brain after a single-use. Crack abuse can start as soon as people ingest crack, it strikes its dopamine system, forcing the production of dopamine or feel-good hormones.

The dopamine reward pathway becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcement. It also becomes less sensitive to the drug itself. In turn, the user requires more and more crack to produce the same effect, and natural reinforcement begins to have almost no effect.

Crack cocaine, similar to other addictive drugs, essentially rewires someone’s brain chemistry to develop a dependency on the substance. Over time, this dependence becomes an addiction that cannot be controlled. 

The Truth About Crack Addiction 

Crack addiction stories vary from person to person. In the United States, crack is a low-class drug, while cocaine has a reputation of being middle to high-class medication. As with most addiction stigmas, crack is pretty misconstrued.

As with most drugs, once a person becomes an addict, their upbringing goes out the window, and their lives become a constant chase of the next high. In the US, crack is a cheaper alternative to cocaine, probably where its stigma comes from.

However, as with the progression from pain pills to heroin, the cocaine to crack succession might be the result of a worsening addiction. Because crack produces such quick results, people are more likely to binge or repeat its use to extend the high. Not to mention, they’re more likely to combine it with other drugs and substances like alcohol to experience a more intense sensation. 

As a user’s cocaine habit becomes increasingly hard to support, they may turn to the cheaper alternative, crack. 

Getting Help for a Crack Addiction

People can choose group meetings or fellowships like Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous. They’re a fellowship and take the stance of being free from all mind-altering substances, including alcohol.

Increasingly, we see crack users show up in men and women’s treatment centers as poly-substance addicts. This means they’re struggling with more than one drug addiction Think about the alcoholic who smokes crack, or the heroin addict who smokes weed.

Luckily, crack, and cocaine addiction treatment options are widely available. Most of the time, someone will start with a detox program paired with partial hospitalization treatments to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine abuse or people who smoke crack need to seek treatment facilities to find the right path to recovery.

Treatment Options for Cocaine Addiction

  • Medical Detox: In this clinically supervised detox process at treatment centers, we ensure the patient’s safety and make the withdrawal phase as comfortable as possible by minimizing withdrawal symptoms and using medication-assisted treatment services to guarantee a complete detoxification process. Having medical advice is critical to managing cravings for the drugs, assess the long-term effects of the addiction, and control the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Dual Diagnosis Treatment: Since many long-term addicts often struggle with mental illness, a dual diagnosis program can get them the help needed to treat both conditions simultaneously. 
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Most of the time, these sorts of addictions develop due to compulsive behaviors that must be treated at the source, with CBT being one of the most popular evidence-based treatments to treat addiction. By addressing their behavioral health, addicts can move away from their addictive or impulsive behaviors.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs: When patients are looking to seek addiction treatment while maintaining daily obligations like work, school, or caregiving, IOPs are a more flexible option that still gives people access to the help they need. We incorporate support groups in our drug rehab programs to help people find the support network they need to recover.
  • Long-term Recovery Programs: With long-term recovery assistance, patients can have the ongoing support they need to maintain long-lasting sobriety. Recovery programs are crucial to relapse prevention. Here the introduction of 12-step group meetings is also pivotal for recovery. 

Finding Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction, seek help immediately. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute today and speak with our addiction specialists to learn more about our comprehensive and personalized addiction treatment programs.

We believe in treating each patient in a case-by-case scenario because no two addiction stories are alike. Start walking towards your recovery, and we’ll be here supporting you and your family every step of the way. Please don’t wait another day to start addiction treatment, primarily when your life depends on it. 

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
Medical Disclaimer:

Lighthouse Recovery Institute aims to improve the quality of life for anyone struggling with substance use or mental health disorder. We provide fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their outcomes. The material we publish is researched, cited, edited, and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide in our posts is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be used in place of the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider.

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