The signs of crack addiction are very similar to cocaine addiction. However, there are many differences between how the drugs are used and the duration and types of effects experienced by the user. Crack, sometimes called "Rock", is a purified form of cocaine that is smoked by inhaling the vapors of cocaine that are given off as the drug is heated. Crack is cocaine has been distilled from its familiar powder form of cocaine hydrochloride. Cocaine powder is put into a mixture with baking soda, heated, hardened and then broken into pieces. Crack is often more pure than sniffable cocaine (85%-90% pure). It is sold as light brown or beige pellets. Drug dealers distribute ready to smoke freebase cocaine packaged in small vials.
Crack is typically smoked in pipes constructed of glass bowls 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 cocaine base to vaporize. The user inhales the cocaine-laden fumes through the pipe. Alternatively, crack cocaine can be sprinkled in cigarettes and smoked. Usually the crack is ground up and sprinkled into a marijuana joint and smoked. These cocaine laced joints are referred to as primos. The vapors of the freebase are absorbed through the lungs into the bloodstream and transported to the brain within 10-15 seconds. One inhalation will produce a degree of intoxication usually lasting 10-15 minutes. The drug is said to take its name from the crackling noise it makes when it is smoked.
Crack is a purified form cocaine. Two or three doses can cause addiction. Because this smokable form of cocaine delivers 10 times the impact of "snorting" the powder, casual use can cause death from heart or respiratory failure. Crack smokers also run an increased risk of addiction and paranoid psychosis. The high from smoking crack lasts between 5 to 7 minutes and is followed by severe depression, feelings of worthlessness, and a craving for more of the drug. In a brief period of time, crack begins to control the user. This is the pattern of behavior that leads to addiction and dependence. The compulsion to continue to use crack has led to the "binges" that are often described by users. During a binge, Crack is smoked continuously until money and/or drug supplies are gone, or the user experiences physical collapse. The need for crack supersedes every other need, leading to crime and violence to acquire it.
Crack addicts have many tell tale signs of their addiction. A few physical signs of crack addiction include dilated pupils, sweating, weight loss, irregular heartbeat, frequent upper respiratory infections, fits of coughing, coughing up black mucous, muscle tremors, severe headaches and a decline in personal appearance. Additionally, a few emotional signs of crack addiction include dramatic mood changes, and insomnia followed by exhaustion, loss of interest in friends, loss of interest in food, sex, or other pleasures, hearing voices and hallucinations.
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