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Crack Cocaine

Written by: Editorial Staff.

Evidence shows that South American cultures used a mixture of coca leaves and saliva as an anesthetic for surgeries. In 1859, the use of cocaine became medically accepted and later, cocaine was marketed as an over-the-counter solution for toothaches, headaches, and as an additive in wine.

In 1879, it was thought that cocaine could be used to treat morphine addiction and was introduced into clinical use as a local anesthetic in Germany in 1884. Crack cocaine, the rock form of powdered cocaine, nicknamed crack after the sound made during manufacture and heating of the substance, first appeared in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods in New York, Los Angeles and Miami in late 1984.

Classification

Crack cocaine is the smokable, freebase form of cocaine. Cocaine, a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant, is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant and a topical anesthetic.

In the US it is classified as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means it has been determined by government agencies that crack:

  1. Has a high potential for abuse.
  2. Has currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
  3. Abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

Uses

Crack cannot be snorted like regular cocaine, so smoking is the most common consumption method. Crack, when smoked in rock form, produces the same high as experienced by the nasal insufflation of powdered cocaine, lasting for 5-10 minutes in duration. Users smoke crack out of glass crack pipes, which are generally very short in order to minimize the time between the smoke evaporating and losing its strength.

Effects of Crack Use

Crack is a powerful nervous system stimulant, lasting about ten minutes. Crack increases alertness, feelings of well-being and euphoria, energy and motor activity, feelings of competence and sexuality. Anxiety, paranoia and restlessness are also reported.

In excessive doses, increased body temperature, tremors and convulsions are observed. With excessive or prolonged use, the drug can cause itching, tachycardia, hallucinations, and paranoid delusions. Overdoses cause tachyarrhythmias and life-threatening elevation of blood pressure.

Side Effects Include:

  • Psychosis
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Shaking
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Breathing problems
  • Arrhythmia
  • High blood pressure

Similar Drugs

Drugs that produce similar effects to those of crack include powdered cocaine, speed, crytal meth, adderall and methamphetamines. These drugs are grouped as nervous system stimulants and carry the same risk of dependence and addiction as crack.

Addiction Information

When the brain becomes accustomed to operating with the presence of crack, it must then be under the influence of crack in order to function, lest withdrawal from the drug occurs. At this point, an addiction to crack is developed. Crack addiction is a psychological dependency contingent on the regular use of crack.

Crack Addiction Symptoms Include:

  • Physiological damage
  • Lethargy
  • Psychosis
  • Depression
  • Akathisia
  • Fatal overdose

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

Cessation of crack use can cause dysphoria and depression felt after the initial high, signaling the onset of the withdrawal stage. Physical withdrawal from crack is not dangerous, but is restorative.

Withdrawal Symptoms Include:

  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Psychomotor retardation
  • Agitation

Crack Overdose Information

Crack strongly affects the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. The effects of crack in the short-term are relatively brief compared to most other drugs. Long-term crack abuse can affect the brain and the body in serious ways, altering the way a person acts, thinks and feels even when he or she is not under the influence.

Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Arrhythmia
  • Respiratory failure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures
  • High blood pressure
  • Bleeding in the brain
  • Extreme rise in body temperature