Crack Cocaine Addiction

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The term crack cocaine is derived from the crackling sound the substance makes when it’s heated. Smoking crack cocaine triggers rapid and euphoric effects, contributing to its popularity in the mid-1980s. In response, the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act imposed stricter legal penalties for the possession and use of crack than other forms of cocaine. Despite its illegal status and dangers, some individuals continue to use it.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is a street term for a solid form of cocaine produced by converting the drug into small white or off-white rock crystals. It is sometimes referred to as freebase and is a purer form of cocaine than the powdered version.

People use crack by heating the rock and inhaling the resulting vapor. Smoking crack leads to a rapid absorption into the bloodstream, causing an immediate euphoric effect. However, this effect is short-lived and fades quickly, often prompting people to engage in binge use to sustain the high.

Addiction to crack cocaine addiction can have adverse effects on almost all parts of the body.

Crack vs. Cocaine

Crack cocaine, often referred to simply as crack, and powdered cocaine are two forms of the same drug – cocaine. The primary differences between crack and cocaine lie in their physical form, method of use, potency, and effects.

Physical form

  • Cocaine: Powdered cocaine is a hydrochloride salt form of the drug that comes as a fine white powder.
  • Crack cocaine: Crack is the solid, freebase form of cocaine. It is typically processed into small white or off-white rocks or crystals.

Method of use

  • Cocaine: Powdered cocaine is often snorted through the nose, although it can also be dissolved and injected into the bloodstream.
  • Crack cocaine: Crack is smoked. It is heated, and the vapors are inhaled, resulting in a more rapid onset of effects.


  • Cocaine: Powdered cocaine is less potent than crack. Its effects are relatively slower to appear and longer-lasting.
  • Crack cocaine: Crack is highly potent and produces almost immediate, intense euphoria. However, this effect is short-lived, leading to a strong craving for more.


  • Cocaine: Powdered cocaine is usually more expensive than crack.
  • Crack cocaine: Crack is a cheaper form of cocaine, making it more accessible to some people. That said, using crack long-term becomes incredibly expensive.

Duration of effects

  • Cocaine: The effects of powdered cocaine can last for about 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Crack cocaine: The intense effects of crack are very short-lived, typically lasting only 5 to 10 minutes.

Risk of addiction and health effects

  • Cocaine: Powdered cocaine also carries the risk of addiction and health problems, but the risks are often considered lower than those associated with crack.
  • Crack cocaine: Crack is associated with a higher risk of addiction due to its intense and fleeting effects. It can also have severe health consequences, such as heart problems, respiratory issues, and mental health issues, including paranoia and hallucinations.

Both forms of cocaine are illegal and highly addictive. They can lead to various physical, psychological, and social problems, including legal issues, financial difficulties, and strained relationships. Seeking help for cocaine addiction is essential for recovery and overall well-being.

man looking off representing crack vs. cocaine

Crack Cocaine Effects

Crack cocaine, a highly potent and illegal drug, can have a range of immediate and long-term effects on the body and mind. Side effects of crack cocaine can be intense and detrimental, contributing to its high risk of addiction and serious health consequences.

Immediate effects

  • Euphoria: Crack produces an intense, short-lived euphoric high characterized by feelings of extreme pleasure and confidence.
  • Increased energy: Individuals often experience a burst of energy, increased alertness, and heightened focus.
  • Reduced appetite: Crack can suppress appetite, leading to reduced food intake and potential weight loss.
  • Increased heart rate: Crack use can cause a rapid heart rate (tachycardia) and elevated blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils: The drug can cause pupils to become noticeably dilated (enlarged).
  • Heightened sensory perception: People using crack cocaine may experience heightened sensory perception, making lights, colors, and sounds seem more intense.
  • Improved mood: Crack can temporarily alleviate feelings of sadness or depression.

Short-term effects

  • Crash: After the intense high wears off, this is followed by a crash that is characterized by depression, anxiety, and extreme fatigue.
  • Irritability: People may become highly irritable and agitated during the crash phase.
  • Paranoia: Some individuals using crack may experience intense feelings of paranoia and hallucinations.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty sleeping is common after crack use.

Long-term effects

  • Addiction: Crack is highly addictive, and repeated use can quickly lead to dependence.
  • Respiratory issues: Smoking crack can damage the lungs and lead to respiratory problems.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Chronic crack use can contribute to heart problems, including heart attacks and abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Neurological issues: Crack can negatively affect the brain, leading to cognitive deficits, memory problems, and difficulties with concentration.
  • Psychiatric disorders: Prolonged use may increase the risk of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
  • Dental issues: Smoking crack can damage teeth, leading to dental problems.
  • Financial and legal consequences: Crack addiction can lead to financial difficulties, legal issues, and strained relationships.

Crack cocaine use carries serious risks and can have severe consequences for physical and mental health. Seeking professional help for crack addiction is essential for recovery and well-being.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Crack cocaine withdrawal can be a challenging and distressing experience for individuals who are trying to quit the drug. Withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on the extent of crack use and individual factors. Here are some common withdrawal symptoms associated with crack cocaine:

  • One of the most challenging aspects of crack withdrawal is the powerful cravings for the drug that manifest. These cravings can be overwhelming and may lead to relapse.
  • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of motivation are common during withdrawal. Depression can be severe and long-lasting.
  • Many individuals experience anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness as they go through withdrawal. Anxiety can be accompanied by physical symptoms like trembling and sweating.
  • Chronic fatigue and low energy levels are often reported. This can make it difficult to engage in daily activities.
  • As the stimulant effects of crack wear off, individuals may experience increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Insomnia and disrupted sleep patterns are common during withdrawal. This can further contribute to fatigue and irritability.
  • Emotional instability, irritability, and mood swings are typical withdrawal symptoms. Individuals may have difficulty regulating their emotions.
  • Some people experience paranoid thoughts and feelings, which can be distressing.
  • A slowing down of physical and mental processes, known as psychomotor retardation, can occur during withdrawal.
  • Concentration and cognitive functions may be impaired, making it hard to focus on tasks.
  • Some individuals report experiencing vivid and sometimes disturbing dreams during withdrawal.

The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. Seeking professional help and support from a healthcare provider or addiction treatment program is crucial for managing crack cocaine withdrawal. Medications, therapy, and a supportive environment can greatly assist individuals in their journey to recovery from crack addiction.

A woman sits looking out at a sunset to represent crack cocaine addiction treatment treatment in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Get Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction at Ohio Community Health

Crack cocaine addiction can be debilitating, but it also responds positively to evidence-based treatment. We can help you with this at Ohio Community Health.

We can help you connect with licensed medical detox centers throughout Cincinnati if you require assistance withdrawing from crack. We can then offer a variety of intensive outpatient programs at our treatment facility in Cincinnati, OH.

All of our treatment programs blend holistic, pharmacological, and behavioral therapies to help those battling crack addiction to recalibrate their lives while remaining anchored to their everyday commitments.

When you are no longer prepared to live ruled by crack cocaine, call admissions at 877-679-2132 for immediate assistance.

Table of Contents

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn