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Crack cocaine has serious health risks, which is why treatment is so important. Detoxing the body of the substance and attending psychotherapy can help people with their long-term recovery from crack addiction. Footprints to Recovery offers evidence-based addiction treatment programs that address the underlying reasons behind substance use disorders. We teach you healthier ways to cope with triggers and life’s challenges. You’ll recover alongside peers who understand what you’re going through and behavioral health professionals who are experts in their fields. Contact us today for a free consultation and find out how we can help.

What Does Cocaine Do to Your Body? 15 Side Effects to Consider

Crack cocaine, like powder cocaine, is an illegal stimulant drug that causes a powerful high. In addition to negative short-term effects, long-term crack cocaine abuse can have even more pronounced drawbacks that affect users even when they are not getting high. Since crack cocaine is one of the most addicting drugs, it is often the hardest for a person to stop taking altogether. When a person keeps on using crack, their brain will trigger them to have tremendous cravings, causing them to want to take the drug more frequently and in higher doses. When the exposure is repeated, the brain will start to adapt, leading to an inability to feel pleasure from normal levels of dopamine.

Cocaine Overdose

While the short-term effects of a cocaine “high” can feel good, long-term physical health effects extend to most of your body’s main systems. Health risks range anywhere from high blood pressure and brain changes to heart attacks and stroke. Learn what cocaine can do to your body, and why you should get help. Using it increases your risk of serious and sometimes life-threatening medical conditions like heart attack, stroke and drug overdose. Cocaine use disorder (addiction) can affect your personal relationships.

Does Using Cocaine Kill Brain Cells?

  1. For one thing, the high feels very pleasurable, especially when you first try it.
  2. Mayor Marion Berry, and Brooke Mueller, the ex-wife of Charlie Sheen, who has had his own share of drug scandals and is no stranger to the crack pipe.
  3. More studies are needed to know what the best practices are for restoring neurological stability after consistent cocaine use.
  4. The following video shows how your brain is affected by crack cocaine use and how using it can lead to dependence, addiction, and an array of negative effects.

Cocaine can be cut with a variety of substances, from non-drug substances like laundry detergent to drugs like fentanyl and levamisole. By cutting drugs with other substances, drug dealers can make more money by selling smaller amounts of the intended drug and larger amounts of “filler”. Continued daily use causes sleep deprivation and loss of appetite, resulting in malnutrition.

What Does Cocaine Do to Your Body?

To make more money, dealers may “cut” the drug with other substances, like flour, baking soda, cornstarch, or talcum powder. They can also add other drugs like amphetamine, fentanyl, heroin, or procaine. Instead of using baking soda as you would with crack, you add ammonia to “free” the cocaine base from its natural form. For this reason, you might hear the terms “crack” and “freebase” used interchangeably. Cocaine can also cause autophagy, where brain cells die in response to the neurological stress and neurotoxicity that occur from cocaine use. As a person ages, their brain experiences a gradual reduction in gray matter.

Inpatient treatment takes place in a hospital or residential setting and provides round-the-clock care with structure and supervision. Outpatient treatment offers similar therapies but offers more flexibility to balance day-to-day responsibilities with recovery. Check out our blog posts and resource links for the latest information on substance abuse. Furthermore, because crack cocaine is an appetite suppressant, it causes malnourishment and extreme weight loss. Researchers have found a profound connection between sleep loss and mental health issues. Lung damage and respiratory problems may interfere with a person’s ability to regulate their breathing, which may also increase that person’s anxiety.

The right treatment can help someone who is addicted feel better and stop using cocaine, but it is hard work and takes many years to stay in recovery from addiction. The best approach is to never start using the drug in the first place. But the most significant effect is how cocaine use changes people’s brains, setting the stage for alcohol use disorder symptoms and causes cocaine addiction (cocaine use disorder). Drug use disorder, or addiction, is a complicated disease that involves changes to your brain structure. Many issues play a role, including other mental health disorders,  your background, and your environment. The most important part of any treatment plan is to give up the drug right away.

Smoking the drug produces a faster, more intense high than snorting does because it reaches the bloodstream and brain more quickly. However, the effects of smoking cocaine are shorter in duration, lasting only 5 to 10 minutes verses 15 to 30 minutes for insufflated powder. Cocaine, whether in powder or crack form, has a powerful effect on the body and the brain.

Cocaine use may make the brain’s stress receptors more sensitive to stress, so people react more strongly to stressful situations. Inpatient treatment centers are a desirable choice for many crack abusers because these centers keep the user away from the drug and anyone using it. Inpatient programs can also provide the intensive counseling and therapy many people require to recover from crack cocaine addiction.

If someone in your life has a crack addiction, it’s important to support them and help them find evidence-based treatment that works for them, Dr. Tetrault says. Crack is a freebase form of cocaine that is processed using water and either ammonia or baking soda, until it forms a rock crystal that can be smoked. Crack cocaine is also known as “rock,” because it looks like small, hard shards of rock. People typically smoke crack by heating it in a glass pipe; however, they may also add it to tobacco cigarettes or marijuana joints. People who are addicted to crack have a chronic medical condition that requires treatment.

Cocaine produces its psychoactive and addictive effects primarily by acting on the brain’s limbic system, a set of interconnected regions that regulate pleasure and motivation. An initial, short-term effect—a buildup of the neurochemical dopamine—gives rise to euphoria and mind matters a desire to take the drug again. Researchers are seeking to understand how cocaine’s many longer term effects produce addiction’s persistent cravings and risk of relapse. In the author’s laboratory, work has focused on buildup of the genetic transcription factor ΔFosB.

Crack use became so common in the 1980s that Congress mandated a five-year minimum sentence for possession of five grams of crack when it passed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. Future studies revealed that the sentencing guidelines disproportionately affected black people, and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 led to drastic attention required! cloudflare reductions in mandatory minimum sentences for crack possession. John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

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