Cocaine and crack are sometimes considered to be the same thing. However, they are different substances. Both of these substances can lead to a host of problems, including addiction, overdose, and even death. Understanding the difference can help you or a loved one recognize symptoms and get the help they need.

How Drugs Affect The Brain

Studies are continuously being conducted to learn more about how drugs can affect a person’s brain. When drugs enter the body, they directly impact how the brain functions and cause it to act abnormally. This is why addiction is considered a brain disease. The area that sees the most damage is called the reward pathway. Drugs interfere with how this reward pathway communicates and it shoots off unnatural levels of dopamine, causing a “high”.

Your brain is very delicate, yet very powerful. Harming your brain due to drugs can have serious consequences. You could experience memory loss, fatigue, anxiety, and even depression due to drug use. An addiction is also likely to form, although the timeline is usually unpredictable. Addiction occurs because the brain seeks more of the drug, attempting to mimic the same feeling it felt before. These thoughts can often become obsessive and cause a person to act impulsively. Your risk level to developing an addiction depends on varying factors, but can include genes, environment, and underlying medical conditions.

Addiction is a disease that requires medical treatment, just like any other disease. Attempting to go through an at home detox could prove to be life threatening, as your relapse risk will skyrocket. Professional treatment is needed in order to assess your medical history and prepare you for a program best suited for your individual needs.

The Main Differences

Cocaine and crack differ on several levels, including appearance. However, they are both highly addictive. Cocaine is hydrochloride salt in the powder form. Crack is created by combining the cocaine with water and then adding baking soda. This mixture is heated and it creates a rock-like texture. While the powdered form of cocaine is almost always a fine white powder, crack can be white, cream, or even tan. It was given the name “crack” because when it is heated up to be smoked, it makes a crackling noise.

Cocaine is generally abused by snorting or injecting. Some people also rub cocaine on their gums. These effects usually take around five minutes to set in and can last up to a half an hour. Crack enters the body through smoking it. Its effects set in almost instantly and last around ten minutes. This shorter window means that those who smoke crack are more likely to engage in episodes of binge use.

Cocaine is considered an expensive drug to buy on the streets. That is why crack as created, to have a cheaper alternative. Since crack was cheaper, in the 1980s its effects plagued those in the lower socioeconomic demographic. However, studies have now shown that rates of crack and cocaine use across all demographics is widespread. The effects of crack and cocaine also differ and can vary drastically.

Physical Effects of Crack and Cocaine

Crack is generally regarded as being more unpredictable than cocaine. The effects are similar to cocaine, but more intense. The reason for this is because since crack is smoked, it is absorbed through the lungs almost instantly. Symptoms can include dilated pupils, increased heart rate, and cravings. Long term effects can include mood swings, agitation, hallucinations, and anxiety.

It is important to remember that any effect can be life threatening. The most dangerous consequences that can occur are overdose and death. An overdose can occur due to a person’s heart rate slowly down and preventing the brain from getting the oxygen it needs. If someone is experiencing an overdose, they may be passed out, have bluish tinged fingernails or lips, or may be intensely confused. If you suspect someone has overdosed, call for medical assistance immediately.

Someone I Love is Addicted

Addiction affects millions of lives every day and can happen to everyone. If you suspect your loved one is addicted to cocaine, the first step should be educating yourself on the disease. Talk to your primary doctor about your situation. They may be able to offer you information, as well as resources. Addiction takes a toll not just on the one with the disease, but also friends and family of that loved one. It is important to take care of your physical and mental health, to better help your loved one.

Addiction does not make your loved one a bad person. They require treatment, just like if they were suffering from heart disease. Plan to sit down and talk with your loved one about situations that have come up. Keep in mind that nothing you say should ever come across as judgemental or condescending. Stick to the facts and keep the conversation light and uplifting. Sometimes, all a person needs to seek treatment is to know that they have the support of their friends and family.

Treatment is Only a Step Away

Choosing treatment is a monumental milestone and deserves to be celebrated. This is often one of the hardest steps when it comes to addiction. However, it is very necessary. At home treatment has a very high risk of relapse and overdose. Leaving symptoms untreated can lead to life-threatening conditions and some damage may even be permanent. Thankfully, there are well-developed treatment plans that help to reshape a person’s life and allow them to achieve a level of normalcy.

Arizona Addiction Recovery Center is home to a dedicated team of professionals with one goal in mind: giving you the care you deserve. Their healthcare professionals develop treatment plans that go beyond the addiction and help to mend all facets of a person’s life. While each person has a different path in recovery, it is never too late to start your own. Professional guidance will help to lead you towards success. Call today to learn more about their center and get started on your path.

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Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888.512.1705.

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