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What is the difference between crack cocaine and powder cocaine?

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug increasing the drug users’ heart rate, blood pressure, alertness, and energy.  Cocaine is classified as a stimulant drug because it increases activity in the brain and temporarily elevates mood, alertness, and energy levels.  Crack cocaine is made from powdered cocaine becoming the crystal form of cocaine that is smoked and inhaled. Crack cocaine is the most potent form of cocaine and the most addictive.  When you smoke crack cocaine, it reaches the brain much quicker and brings a more intense and immediate high, but is short-lived. Crack cocaine users are continually using the drug, and the high only lasts for about 15 minutes.  An addiction to crack cocaine develops more quickly because of the rapid, intense effects of the drug. 

Some of the common side effects of cocaine use are the short-term feelings of euphoria, decreased appetite, paranoia, extreme sensitivity, irritability, headaches, mood changes, and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.  Powder cocaine is a fine white powder and is often mixed with other substances like talcum powder, sugar, and cornstarch to dilute the purity. Cocaine has contributed to many overdose deaths in the United States because many of the cocaine seizures have found cocaine laced with fentanyl.  Cocaine is also mixed with amphetamines or heroin, and this is diluted and then injected. Cocaine can be injected, snorted, inhaled or swallowed, and there is no safe way for a drug user to use cocaine.

All of the methods of cocaine use leads to absorption of toxic levels, which increases the risk for cardiovascular problems, such as stroke, heart attack, and seizures.  The effects of cocaine are felt almost immediately. Even a small dose of the drug has a stimulating effect on the body. The euphoric and energetic high produced by cocaine is what makes the drug so addictive.  The drug interferes with the normal communication process in the brain. Along with this, it blocks the removal of dopamine from the synapse causing an amplified signal being sent to the receiving neurons. The amplified signal being received by the neurons is considered the euphoric effect.     

The method of which cocaine is used affects how fast the euphoria is felt.  For example, smoking crack cocaine produces an instant high and the effects are felt immediately but are short-lived.  Snorting powder cocaine produces a result within a few minutes, and the high from snorting the drug can last 15 to 30 minutes.  The faster the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream the more intense the high, but a shorter duration. Cocaine, in all its forms, is highly addictive and responsible for countless addictions throughout the United States.  Cocaine addiction requires lengthy treatment because most cocaine addicts have made more than one attempt at rehab. It is common with crack cocaine users for an addiction intervention to be done. The average cocaine user feels they can stop at any time, but crack cocaine creates an intense addiction that most users struggle to give up.

Substance Abuse Treatment and Intervention for Cocaine and Crack Cocaine Addiction

Stimulant drugs are dangerous, and unfortunately, these drugs are popular among people from all age groups. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among people 12 and older, the percentage of past year cocaine users decreased from 2.5% in 2002 to 2.0% in 2019. The percentage for past year crack cocaine use among people aged 12 or older decreased from 0.7% in 2002 to 0.3% om 2019. Young adults aged 18 to 25 had the highest rates of use with crack cocaine or powder cocaine. Cocaine addiction causes devastating addictions, and it is not easy to convince someone addicted to the drug to get help.

Family intervention is the best approach, and is hiring a professional interventionist ensures the intervention is done properly and the family is prepared. The purpose of an intervention is to convince the addict they need help. The family reads impact statements and explain how their addiction has impacted them and the lives of the people around them. Family interventions should not be confrontational, and the people attending should not attack the addict. However, with proper rehearsal and preparation, the process convinces the addict what their addiction is doing to them.

The best way to organize an intervention is by hiring a professional family interventionist. Intervention groups have the knowledge and training to perform interventions, counsel families, and help family members select treatment centers and detox programs. Cocaine or crack cocaine addiction requires detox, but the process does not take long. Conventional detox may only last for a few days, but it is an important assessment period and helps treat any withdrawal symptoms. Detox does not treat all aspects of addiction, and it should not be considered the only treatment approach to addiction.

Cocaine or crack cocaine addiction benefits from inpatient or outpatient treatment, but this is determined through an addiction assessment. The purpose of an assessment is to determine the extent of addiction and what treatment is available. Outpatient programs are usually a better option for someone who is still working and has family support. Residential rehabilitation programs provide extensive counseling and therapy. Lengthier programs usually last three to six months, and depending on the extent of addiction, a long-term program is beneficial.

It is also important to consider aftercare treatment, which could be peer support, 12-step meetings, or recovering housing. Aftercare support helps someone who has completed inpatient or outpatient treatment with more relapse prevention and support. Sober living homes are excellent options because they often help clients find jobs, a place to live and stay connected to peer support groups. Cocaine addiction is a devastating problem, and cocaine is a common recreational drug abused with other substances. The risk of addiction is high when cocaine is used with alcohol, prescription drugs, or other stimulants.


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