When You Develop a Dependence on Crack Cocaine


shutterstock_113570578Crack cocaine abuse has become a worldwide problem, and over 8.5 million people have admitted to using the drug at least once during their lives. The reason crack abuse is so problematic is because if its dependence liabilities and its ability to cause cardiovascular, neurological, psychiatric, and respiratory problems. We’ll explore how crack cocaine dependence is characterized, whether it is synonymous with addiction, and how it is treated.


Crack is rapidly absorbed into the body when smoked; it only takes 10 seconds to reach the brain and provide a high that lasts around five minutes. Because this high is so intense and euphoric, users can develop a dependence very quickly. On average, people who smoke crack develop a physical dependence around five months after the first time they try it.


Dependence—a set of withdrawal symptoms when a user lowers dosage or completely stops using the drug—can develop rather quickly with crack cocaine. It is technically a mental disorder in which the brain’s complex neurochemistry is changed. If three of the following symptoms are present, the user may have a crack dependence:


  • when discontinuing the use of crack, the user experiences withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbances which can be relieved by smoking crack again
  • inability to reduce the amount of crack used
  • using crack in excessive amounts whenever possible
  • becoming tolerant to the high crack provides, thus needing to use more in order to experience its euphoric effects
  • being so occupied with obtaining and using crack that can lead to isolation from friends and families


Addiction is defined as the psychological compulsion to use the drug of choice, which can manifest itself as cravings and obsessive thinking. It can develop in just a few months of binge use, and happens faster with those who smoke the drug, which is how crack is typically consumed. Thus, the onset of crack addiction can be as little as several days.


It is possible for a user to develop a physical dependence on crack without having an addiction, however the two are commonly seen together. Over 30% of people who have used crack experience dependence symptoms within two years of their first use. There is hope for those who have a dependence or addiction to crack, as rehab has proven helpful in treating these conditions.
LEAD has a staff of recovery experts who are available to answer any questions, so call today at 800-380-0012.