Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine base, which is a strong stimulant. It is the most potent form of cocaine and the riskiest to use.
It is a stimulant and is commonly used as a recreational drug that is taken by smoking or intravenous injection. Crack gets its name due to its property of producing a crack or pop sound when heated.
It is found to be the most addictive form of cocaine, commonly associated with violence than its other forms.Crack is a crystal form of cocaine. It comes as irregular blocks or chunks, with colour ranging from yellow to white.
How Is Crack Cocaine Taken?
The common ways of using cocaine are:
- Snorting, or snuffing
However, crack is usually smoked. An aqueous solution of crack can also be injected.
Crack cocaine is also smoked in combination with marijuana, heroin, tobacco or other drugs to create varied intense effects.
Smoking crack enables its quick absorption into the bloodstream as compared to other modes, reaching the brain quickly. It gives an intense high.
But, the effect has a short span of about 5-10 minutes, while the effect of snorting crack lasts for more than 20 minutes. Smoking the substance can lead to addiction, right after the first use.
How Long Does Crack Cocaine Stay In The Body?
Crack cocaine stimulates the nervous system to create intense effects. While its effects are short-lived, the drug continues in the body and can be detected.
So, how long does it stay in the body?
Before we answer this, let us take a quick look at how cocaine is metabolized in the body and the factors affecting how long crack stays in the body.
How Is Cocaine Metabolized?
The liver breaks down cocaine into compounds that can be easily dealt by the body. This metabolic reaction forms benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester compounds.
Benzoylecgonine is an active metabolite. A small quantity of cocaine results in an amount of benzoylecgonine that clears out within 2 days.
But with larger doses or frequent intake, it takes between 5 to 10 days to eliminate the benzoylecgonine. Combinations with other drugs or alcohol will take even longer to be cleared from the body.
Here, let me tell you that it is the presence of benzoylecgonine, that is measured in the urine test to identify the use of crack cocaine.
Factors Affecting How Long Crack Stays In Your System
Take a look at few factors that influence how long the drug stays in your body:
a. The Frequency Of Use
A person who uses crack cocaine daily will have traces of it in their body for a longer time. Greater number of usage of the drug reduces the efficiency of the body to eliminate it. Hence, it stays for longer in the system.
The dose, that is the amount taken in, affects how long it remains in the body. A small quantity of crack cocaine clears out within the lesser time, than larger amounts of it.
c. Method Of Intake
The rate of absorption and duration of effects of the drug varies with different modes of intake.
d. Time Span Of Use
With long-term use, cocaine accumulates in the fatty tissues of the body. These deposits are slowly released into the blood and can be detected for longer. It takes longer to clear as compared to short-term users.
e. Individual Characteristics
The effects of drugs and its metabolism vary across individuals. Therefore, how long it remains in the body differs.
Some important factors to be considered here include body size, metabolism rate, levels of physical activity, food and water consumption, intake of other substances (like medicines, other drugs, alcohol, etc), and tolerance levels.
Cocaine is found to remain in the system between 3 to 6 hours, after completely stopping its use. Smoking crack can take more than 4 hours to be eliminated by the body.
People who use cocaine regularly over a longer period have a larger store of its traces, hence taking longer to eliminate it. Regular users can have traces for up to 3 or 4 days.
Tests To Detect Crack Cocaine
Peak levels and half-life are used to detect and measure the presence of drugs in the body.
Let us look at the peak concentrations of cocaine in the body for the following methods of intake:
- Snorted is 15-30 minutes
- Injected is 5-10 minutes
- Smoked is 45 minutes
- Ingested is 50-90 minutes
The presence of a drug is often measured by its half-life. Half-life is the time taken for the drug in the blood to be reduced to half its concentration. Prolonged use of the drug will lead to deposits in tissues, which will remain longer in the body.
While cocaine has a short half-life of about 1 hour, benzoylecgonine has a half-life of 6 hours.
The types of drug tests to detect crack cocaine are:
1. Urine Test
Urine test, known as immunoassay, is the most commonly preferred method for detecting cocaine. This detects the presence of benzoylecgonine.
For intermittent users, cocaine can be detected in the urine for 2-4 days after use. In chronic users, it can be up to 12 days. In combination with alcohol, it lasts for nearly 5 days. Very high doses remain detectable for as long as 3 weeks.
When taken through injection, it can be detected in the urine for about 2 days. With snorting or smoking, it can be a week.
2. Blood Test
This is the most accurate form of testing for drugs, but it is detectable for a relatively short duration. While cocaine can be detected in the blood for 12 hours, metabolites can be found for up to 2 days.
3. Saliva Test
This is a non-invasive drug test. However, it cannot be detected for long. Traces of crack remain detectable from 12 to 48 hours.
4. Hair Analysis
Residues of the drug get deposited in the hair and can remain for a very long time. It can be retained long after the person has stopped using the drug. The hair for the test is taken closest to the scalp.
It is usually detectable for up to 3 months.
How Is Crack Cocaine Made?
Cocaine is extracted from the leaves of the coca plant, which is a tropical shrub. Indigenous people of South America have been using coca leaves as a stimulant.
Crack is made by processing cocaine with baking soda or ammonia, with water. The mixture is dried to obtain crack in the form of solid rocks that can be smoked.
Effects Of Crack Cocaine
Crack cocaine is a central nervous system stimulant. Crack gives an intense feeling of euphoria. It rapidly releases huge amounts of the neurotransmitter dopamine, to stimulate points in the brain associated with pleasure.
Its effect varies depending on the dose method of taking. Smoking and injection cause a rapid and intense effect, while the effect of snorting is slower and less intense.
Users experience extreme pleasure and increased energy levels. It releases adrenaline, which quickens up the body systems and enhances alertness. It makes a person excited and restless.
This is mostly followed by extreme depression, feeling low and craving for more.
Some users experience a hallucination of bugs crawling under the skin. This is often referred to as “cocaine bugs” or “crack bugs”. In this case, people may scratch themselves in an attempt to get rid of the delusional bugs.
Short-Term Health Effects
The common short-term effects of using crack cocaine include:
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased breathing rate
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of appetite
- Constricted blood vessels
- Intense craving for drug
- Aggression, violent behavior
- Irregular and disturbed sleep
- Sudden death, even from a single use of high dose.
Long-Term Health Effects
Use of crack cocaine can lead to the long-term effects mentioned below:
- Severe depression
- Paranoid behavior
- Wight loss, Malnutrition
- Tiredness, feeling exhausted
- Elevated body temperature
- Heart attack
- Brain seizure
- Extreme addiction
- Frequent headaches
- Tooth decay, dental issues
- Seizure, convulsion, spasm
- Pain in the abdomen
- Damage to liver, lung, and kidney
- Respiratory problems
- Sexual dysfunction, infertility
- Feeling disoriented or confused
- Permanent damage to blood vessels.
Prolonged use of crack can cause acute damage to lungs, a condition called ‘crack lung’. Constricted blood vessels don’t allow proper blood flow to the lungs. This leads to breathing difficulty, chest pain, and even fever.
Another condition that results due to use of crack cocaine is ‘crack lip’. The continuous pressing of the hot smoking pipe on the lips causes this condition. The user has bruised or cracked lips that can be quite painful.
Use of intravenous injections put the users at the risk of contracting numerous infectious diseases, including AIDS and hepatitis.
Signs Of Addiction
This section helps to identify if a person uses or is addicted crack cocaine. Here are some signs to watch for:
- Dilated pupils, that appear like unusually wide eyes
- Restless and nervous. Since the drug stimulates the brain, the body mechanisms speed up. The user experiences a rise in energy levels that make them restless and jittery.
- Cracked or blistering of lips. Dry mouth
- Unusual twitching
- Irregular sleep patterns, or insomnia
- Frequent sniffing. Sometimes after snorting, the user feels the cocaine dripping down the nose into the throat. They may then sniff this up, to avoid it being wasted.
- Mood swings, showing aggressive behavior that is not characteristic
- Marks on the arms or other parts of the body. People who have needle marks may indicate the use of intravenous injections.
- Feeling insecure or suspicious of surroundings
Addiction And Withdrawal
Addiction is a condition where the body and brain is dependent on the drug to function normally.
Crack leaves its user feeling depressed and nervous. The user has the urge to continue taking it to relieve these feelings and to enter the state of euphoria.
This leads to addiction with an extreme craving for the drug. In the situation of not taking the drug, the person will be anxious and experience negative moods and feelings.
Tolerance to the substance develops rapidly. Users may then take a higher amount of the drug to gain the same experience they had the last time.
As the cycle goes on, the person uses larger quantities of cocaine with increasing frequencies.
Such people may experience withdrawal symptoms when they are deprived of it. People who are addicted to a drug often continue to use it, to avoid these effects.
Some Signs Of Withdrawal From Crack Cocaine Use Are
- Mood swings
Physical symptoms of withdrawal include sweating, nausea, sleeplessness, trembling, seizures, and difficulty in breathing.
De-Addiction And Treatment
Now, we shall look at the options for treatment and recovery from addiction and effects of the drug.
It takes a lot of self-motivation and determination to decide to stop using the drug and step forward to a healthy life. This is the first and most important step in the treatment.
Most addiction treatments are a combination of detoxification, cognitive-behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, motivational sessions, family counseling, measures to prevent relapse, recovery, and care.
While some use of drugs such as opiates results in physical addiction, crack cocaine causes a mental addiction. Crack cocaine does not usually require medical detoxification. The craving for the drug may last even after it has been eliminated from the bloodstream. Hence, the treatment may require medication for mental instability.
Drug detoxification helps you to recover from the effects of the drug. In this step, the person gives up the use of crack cocaine and the body is cleansed of the drug, including any small traces of toxins.
Medical practitioners first evaluate the patient before they begin the process of detox. They take into consideration factors such as the person’s overall health and body type, the drug being abused, frequency and quantity of use.
This may be done through individual analysis, blood tests, medical assessment, psychological evaluation, evaluation of risks involved.
This is essential for the right diagnosis and helps to decide the mode and course of the treatment.
Drug detox medically stabilizes the body. The step of drug detox can be difficult, with some people experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Very often, the craving for the drug is difficult to overcome and requires special care and monitoring.
The duration of time when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms vary. Complete detox of crack cocaine may take between 24 to 72 hours.
During the process of detoxification, there a few medications that may be used to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. A person undergoing drug detox for crack cocaine may experience severe anxiety during the initial days, which can be reduced using mild sedatives.
As the body is detoxified, the person requires a healthy and nutritious diet, sufficient intake of fluids and rest. Individuals may feel extremely tired and hungry.
Detox At Home
While mild to moderate addictions can be detoxified at home, severe addiction requires medical assistance. However, this is not a preferable option in case of crack addiction treatment.
As we saw earlier, crack cocaine causes more of a mental addiction. Doing the drug detox at home, puts the person into the temptation of using the drug again.
Home Remedies For Crack Detoxification
Here are some tips that help to detox the system:
Drinking a lot of water helps the kidney and liver to flush out toxins.
2. Drink Fluids
Drinking fluids like fruit juice, lemon water, and herbal teas also help in cleansing. Juices also supply nutrients and enzymes that aid the natural detoxification process.
It is known to be a natural detoxifying agent.
4. Ginger tea
It contains gingerol, which encourages sweating to eliminate toxins in the skin. A cup of ginger tea a day could gradually cleanse the drug residues.
While there are some options to cleanse the body and eliminate the toxins, there is no specific alternative to the withdrawal symptoms experienced. This is particularly so in the case of crack detox since the addiction and symptoms are mainly psychological and emotional.
Withdrawal symptoms can cause depression, anxiety, hallucinations and mood swings causing mental instability, which can be quite difficult to deal with at home. The shock from suddenly cutting off the supply of crack can cause conditions like cardiac arrest, stroke or unstable blood pressure.
A serious withdrawal symptom is suicidal thoughts. Hence, it is advisable for the treatment to be given in an inpatient clinic, hospital or rehabilitation center.
Detox At Addiction Treatments Center Of Rehab Facilities
Detox and treatment at these facilities offer constant supervision and monitoring of the patient.
It provides adequate nutrition, fluids, rest and medication in the required amounts. Here, the patient is safe and maintains stability during the detox and withdrawal. Your recovery from addiction in a rehab is accentuated in a shorter duration due to the process followed there.
The environment also reduces chances of relapse, the tendency that the person may go back to using the drug again.
After stabilization, treatment focuses on further recovery to break free from the drug.
During and after the treatment, it is essential to provide nutrients that help to restore normal functioning.
Proteins are necessary, as it repairs cells and tissues in the body, which were damaged due to the ill effects of the drug. Vitamin and nutrient supplements may also be taken, depending on the individual’s need.
During the recovery, the person needs to take well-balanced meals at all times, which ensures the availability of all essential nutrients to the body, to help it restore health and attain normalcy.
Addiction can be painful to not just the individual abusing the drug, but even people around them and the society. If you or someone you care about is in the clutches of drug addiction, it is most important to get help and seek treatment.