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Helping Someone Addicted to Crack or Cocaine


Since their development, cocaine, and crack have become some of the most widely used and abused drugs in the United States and throughout the world. If you’re looking to help someone addicted to crack or cocaine, or if you yourself may need help, it is important to understand the risks of abusing each, how they differ, and your options for treatment and lasting recovery.

The Risks of a Crack or Cocaine Addiction

Both crack and cocaine are highly addictive and potentially deadly drugs derived from the coca plant. While they are almost chemically identical, crack and cocaine differ in form, concentration, and intensity.

Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant and is a hydrochloride salt in its natural form.

Crack is cocaine mixed with a non-euphoric base like baking soda. It’s cheaper, and therefore more widely used, but also more likely to be laced with unknown substances.

  • Cocaine is regularly mixed with other drugs including marijuana, heroin, opioids, and meth.
  • Short-term effects include extreme euphoria, increased energy, hypersensitivity, paranoia, and irritability.
  • Long-term effects include nausea, increased blood pressure, elevated temperature, dilated pupils, tremors, and constricted blood vessels.
  • Because it is smoked, crack delivers a quicker, more intense high, and the risk of overdose is higher, too.
  • Short-term effects include euphoria, decreased appetite, intense cravings, dilated pupils, and increased mental alertness.
  • Long-term effects include heart, liver, and kidney damage, as well as decreased immunity, sleep disorders, paranoia and aggression.

As illustrated above, someone who is addicted to crack or cocaine may face a host of difficult short and long-term consequences, some of which can ultimately be fatal if professional help is not sought in time.

Discussing Crack Addiction with a Loved One

Before a discussion or intervention takes place, it is important for everyone involved to consider what the addict is going through, and take the time to develop empathy for the situation. People may turn to crack, cocaine, or any other drug, for a wide variety of reasons—emotional support, self-medication for a physical illness, or even to boost one’s academic or professional performance. It is important to always consider what an addict is going through under the surface; just because you know, or suspect, that someone is addicted does not mean you understand why they are addicted or the challenges they are facing.

Broaching the subject of addiction with judgment or scorn will not be constructive. Instead, wait until you are calm, collected, and ready to listen before having a conversation with a loved one about their cocaine or crack use. Know the differences between helping vs. enabling, and know, too, that this conversation may need to be had more than once—possibly with professional support—in order to initiate change.

Helping Someone Addicted to Crack or Cocaine Find Treatment

The ultimate goal, of course, in broaching the subject of addiction is to steer your loved one down the path to recovery. This may not be easy for either of you, but it will benefit you both immensely in the long run.

Withdrawal is difficult, even dangerous when ceasing crack or cocaine use, and attempting to quit at home cold-turkey is especially risky. Instead, be sure to help your loved one find a detox center that offers quality care and support round-the-clock to ensure both their comfort and their safety during the first stages of recovery.

Detox should then be followed up with a long-term addiction treatment plan, ideally supplied by a treatment center that can provide comprehensive, individualized treatment programming. The more fully your loved one’s mental, as well as physical health, can be addressed during the initial treatment period, the more stable their foundation will be for long-term recovery.

It can be heartbreaking to watch someone you care about struggle with substance abuse but know that you are not completely helpless in this situation. Helping someone addicted to crack or cocaine find the help they need as soon as possible can make a major difference in their life—and indeed, can be the first step in saving it.

If you are trying to figure out how to help someone addicted to crack, call (726) 888-7003 or contact New Choices Treatment Centers today. Our San Antonio-based facility offers comfort and privacy throughout detox and addiction treatment—and if our program isn’t right for you, we’ll help you find the one that is.