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Substance Abuse - Crack Cocaine

Commonly Known As: Rock, crack, base, freebase, hubba, boulya, roxanne, roz, devil drug, rocky, Bobo. There are over one hundred slang terms for crack cocaine as well as numerous names for crack use, users, and dealers.

Access to Drug: Very accessible on street corners, bus stops, parties, clubs, raves, malls, schools, and neighborhoods where crack houses are common. It is an illegal substance and users can be arrested for use, possession, possession of paraphernalia, sales, transportation, distribution and a variety of charges related to crack use including prostitution.

Scientific Name: Crack is cocaine that is processed from Cocaine hydrochloride into a solidified form that can be split into small pieces, or “rocks” for smoking purposes. It is easily processed locally by users or distributors.

Interesting Facts: Crack developed in the early 1980’s out of the freebase culture when users found the freebasing experience to be dangerous due to the explosive nature of the ether or alcohol used to process/smoke the cocaine. Crack quickly grew into epidemic proportions by the mid-1980’s due to the highly addictive nature of the drug. To this day, crack is the most damaging of all drugs to it’s users and the community, not only because of addiction, but economically, physically, socially, spiritually and psychologically as well.

Methods of Use: Smoked in pipes, or any other kind of smoking device, rolled into marijuana joints and/or cigarettes and occasionally injected when no other form of cocaine is available. Is sometimes dipped in PCP, mixed with Heroin, LSD and frequently involves alcohol use. Binge and heavy crack users tend to migrate to areas where crack is most readily available and smoke non-stop for several days until the body crashes.

Common Effects When Intoxicated: Increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The experience has been described as a body rush that is so intense with the first use that users spend the rest of their time chasing the feeling without success due to tolerance. Physical effects include slurred speech, coughing, tremors, loss of appetite/anorexia, thirst and attention difficulties. Users can also experience auditory hallucinations, loss of impulse control, paranoia, and intense cravings as the drug wears off.

Duration of Intoxication: The effect is almost immediate and lasts 5 to 20 minutes. As quickly as a crack smoker feels the rush, the intense experience ends as abruptly, replaced by irritability, intense cravings, anxiety and dysphoria.

Withdrawal: Extremely difficult due to the intense cravings for more of the drug. Users will sleep for a day or more as the body tries to rejuvenate itself. There is irritability, paranoia, depression, remorse, inability to think clearly, and mood swings. In treatment, crack addicts will gain weight quickly and may suffer from malnutrition upon admission.

Effects of Long Term Use: Besides the physical damage, crack cocaine use tends to lead to greater loss than any other drug. Physically, long term users will develop crack keratitis, which is abrasions of the eye from the anesthetic effects of cocaine, “crack” hands with calluses and burns from lighters/matches. Users also develop “crack” lung which involves chest pain, breathing problems, and a fever that resembles pneumonia. Some die from heart attack or seizures or stroke. Polydrug abuse can develop with the use of heroin, alcohol and sedative-hypnotics. Weight loss/malnutrition will be extreme and long term users can develop an irreversible form of psychosis similar to schizophrenia, due to brain damage.

Abuse, Dependence, and Addiction: Crack cocaine is highly addictive because of the intense feeling of euphoria with the first hit. It is not a drug that people can use once and walk away from and usually requires treatment to stop.

Associated Risks: Crack users will isolate themselves from family and friends when binging and do anything to chase the high. They will wipe out bank accounts, trade cars, houses and any property of any worth to get the drug which is why there is a high rate of crime associated with crack use. Some resort to prostitution, dealing, or other demoralizing behaviors to keep their addiction going. In the United States today, the social ramifications of crack addiction include motherless children, single parent families, and increased rates of child abuse. There is a high risk for HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and C as well as Tuberculosis from sharing pipes with strangers. Because law enforcement is aware of crack activity, there is a high risk for legal ramifications.