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Using Crack Cocaine

Using crack cocaine inevitably leads to crack cocaine addiction. Crack takes over a person’s life, making it impossible for individuals to predict or control the extent to which they will continue using the drug. Crack cocaine is probably the most addictive substance ever devised. Crack users quickly build up a tolerance to the drug leading to the need for more and more of the drug to attain the same high as was felt the first time they used the drug. Users also want to avoid the intense "crash" or depression that follows their high. The only way to avoid this is by taking more crack. They become physically and psychologically dependent on crack cocaine. Dependency can often happen as a result of only a few doses that are taken within a few days. This dependence on crack leads to crack addiction. To counter the intense lows from crack use, users often use other drugs like alcohol, hash, or marijuana in addition to crack.

Using crack cocaine has many nasty side effects. The effects of crack cocaine include aggressive and paranoid behavior, feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety. Individuals who use crack cocaine may also feel self confident, in power, or exhilarated. Crack cocaine effect more than just behavior and mood. The drug can also produce constricted peripheral blood vessels, dilated pupils, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and a decrease in appetite. The most extreme effect of crack cocaine can happen the very first time a person uses crack. This effect is known as "instant death" or "sudden death." Sudden death takes place when the user’s body chemistry is imbalanced to the slightest degree. This releases toxic chemicals into their body creating a reaction within the individual that results in cardiac arrest. This negative reaction to crack cocaine's toxic chemicals is the cause of "sudden death." It is called “sudden death” because an user can not predict if and or when it will happen.

The most common method of using crack cocaine is smoking. Crack cocaine is typically smoked in pipes constructed of glass bowls that are fitted with one or more fine mesh screens that support the drug. The user heats the side of the bowl, usually with a lighter, and the heat causes the crack cocaine to vaporize. The user inhales the cocaine-laden fumes through the pipe. Absorption of the drug is facilitated by the large surface area of the lung’s air sacs. As crack cocaine is smoked, it is absorbed almost immediately into the bloodstream. It takes only 19 seconds for the drug to reach the brain. However, only 30 to 60 percent of the available dose is absorbed due to incomplete inhalation of the cocaine-laden fumes and variations in the heating temperature.

Smoking remains the predominant route administration for crack cocaine in Pulse Check cities around the country. However, some sources indicate that crack cocaine is also injected or snorted in some cases. Snorting is the process of inhaling crack cocaine powder through the nose where it is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal tissues. Injecting is the act of using a needle to release the crack cocaine directly into the bloodstream. Smoking involves inhaling the crack cocaine vapor or smoke into the lungs where absorption into the bloodstream occurs at the same pace as by injection.

Extent of Using Crack Cocaine:

  • The 1993 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse reported that: crack use is highest among young adults 18-25 years old
  • A large percentage of people using crack are males between the ages of 20 and 30 but the problem is growing in younger age groups
  • Crack is used by people of all races and all socioeconomic levels
  • 1.8% of those surveyed reported using crack
  • .5% reported using it in the last year
  • .2% reported using it in the past month
  • 1.6% were white
  • 2.0% were Hispanic
  • 3.4% were black
  • One in every 40 seniors in high school (2.6%) has used crack
  • In 1993, 8th graders showed a softening of attitudes about crack