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Crack-Cocaine Addiction at It's Best

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Celeste Porter

Hlth 1050

Research Paper

Crack-Cocaine Addiction at It's Best

In quite a few lower-class communities, phrases like "your mom is a crack head," or "shut up crack baby" are said jokingly to make fun of someone during what we call a "rip session." Although said as a joke, some are very offended by the comments. Why? because for some, crack addiction hits too close to home for comfort. Seeing how easy it is obtained in lower class and poverty stricken neighborhoods, many find themselves falling victim to the powerful substance, crack cocaine. Low sociable economic systems are just one of the many factors that can lead to the use, and addiction of crack cocaine, others include movies, music, peer pressure, alcohol and cigarette ads. In this report I will discuss the effects, consequences, and possible treatment for crack cocaine addiction.

"The first time cocaine is used it may make the heart beat faster leading to a feeling of excitement and fear" (qtd. in Carroll, 1994, p.24). Followed by euphoria, these feelings can peak within five seconds. The user then begins to feel more energetic and becomes more sociable (Carroll, 1994). One inhalation will produce a high usually lasting 10-15 minutes. After this zenith of intense sensation, "...the drug wears off, these temporary sensations of mastery are replaced by an intense depression, and the drug abuser will then "crash", becoming lethargic and typically sleeping for several days" (qtd. in Narconon, 2001). There are several different ways to use crack. It can be snorted, smoked, or taken intravenously. It can also be taken orally (chewed), but this method is not preferred because of the low intensity of the high. The two most popular ways of using crack are smoking and IV usage. These two methods are most favored because they give the most intense sensations.

There are three different stages to addiction, the first being the adaptive stage. In this stage, the user is on top of his/her game. They feel as if they can function better while on the drug and are able to handle larger amounts. This is the person that can smoke crack before they go to work and will probably be more productive then most. "Cocaine is a powerfully addictive drug. Once having tried cocaine, an individual may have difficulty predicting or controlling the extent to which he or she will continue to use the drug" (qtd. in Narconon, 2001). In other words, it may only take one dose to become addicted to the drug. Because the first high is so pleasurable, many continue taking the drug in search of the first high they experienced. They try taking larger and larger doses to recapture a high that can never be obtained again.

Pretty soon they'll find themselves having to use crack just to feel "normal" again. This is the physical dependency stage. It occurs when the user has built up such a high tolerance from frequent usage, that their body basically forgets what is normal so they have to maintain a continuum of the drug to ward of the withdraw effects. As a result of usage, anxiety and depression can last for weeks. Attempts to stop using the drugs can fail simply because the resulting depression can be overwhelming, causing the addict to use more cocaine in an attempt to overcome his depression. This is the point in which you get the more stereotypical crack addict. They begin to steal from their family and friends, miss work/school, prostitute, and do just about anything they can to get the money to support their habit. They begin to short or try to get over on the person who is selling them drugs, which can result in violence. Some even become drug dealers themselves so that they can pay for the drugs that they use.

The final stage of addiction is the deteriorative stage. This is basically the stage in which the user has nothing left. They may be homeless because they've spent all their money on crack so they were unable to keep up with the rent/mortgage or any of their other bills. Their family is probably unwilling to allow them to stay with them because they've stolen from, and cheated them one too many times. To top it all off, their health is rapidly declining. One may have contracted HIV by having unprotected sex to get the money for their drug of choice, and/or contracted Hepatitis C by sharing needles. There are a host of short-term, long-term, and medical consequences that include:


* Increased energy

* Decreased appetite

* Mental alertness

* Increased heart rate

* Increased blood pressure

* Constricted blood vessels

* Increased temperature

* Dilated pupils


* Irritability

* Mood disturbances

* Restlessness

* Paranoia

* Auditory hallucinations


* Cardiovascular Effects

* Disturbances in heart

* Rhythm heart attacks

* Respiratory Effects

* Chest pain


* Strokes

* Seizures

* Headaches


* Abdominal pain

* Nausea

(qtd. in Narconon, 2001)

Another consequence of being addicted to crack is the possibility of passing the addiction and any other disease they may have on to their unborn child. It's not just women who can pass the addiction to her child, "cocaine can attach itself to sperm, 'hitch-hike' its way into the zygote, and cause birth defects" (qtd. in Berk, 1999, p. 112). Meaning men can also be the cause of their child being born crack addicted. "In some states pregnant cocaine users are held in jail until their babies are born, to protect the unborn child from cocaine exposure" (qtd. in Carroll,



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