November 27, 2015
font size

Cocaine and Crack Abuse

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Cocaine and crack abuse facts

  • Cocaine, also called coke, nose candy, snow, blow, or toot, is a substance that is derived from the coca plant. Crack cocaine, also called rock cocaine, refers to cocaine when it is in solid form.
  • Approximately 25 million people in the U.S. use cocaine at least once in their lifetime.
  • Cocaine intoxication tends to cause intense euphoria and pleasure, highly intensifying every pleasure. Then the person tends to become hyperactive and excessively alert.
  • Once the high associated with cocaine wears off, the individual often becomes agitated, irritable, and uncomfortable.
  • Cocaine intoxication tends to dramatically increase the release of the neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin.
  • Cocaine abuse and addiction have no single cause but are rather the result of a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors.
  • Withdrawal symptoms and signs for cocaine include irritability, suppressed appetite, problems with sleep, and craving the substance.
  • Symptoms of cocaine abuse include recurrent use of the drug that results in legal problems, occurs in potentially dangerous situations, interferes with important obligations, or results in social or relationship problems.
  • Symptoms of cocaine dependence include tolerance, withdrawal, using a lot of the drug or for a long period of time, a persistent desire to use it, unsuccessful efforts to stop using cocaine, neglecting other aspects of life because of the drug use, and spending inordinate amounts of time or energy getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance.
  • Individuals who are addicted to cocaine are at increased risk for risky sexual behaviors and their consequences, as well as increased risk of suicide, homicide, domestic violence, other forms of violence.
  • Medical risks of cocaine abuse, particularly when in crack form, include tearing of the major artery in the body (aortic dissection) or stroke associated with extremely high blood pressure. It is also a risk factor for heart attack.
  • For children exposed to cocaine prenatally, the problems it can cause have been found as early as infancy.
  • Since there is no one test that definitively indicates that someone has cocaine abuse or addiction, health care professionals diagnose these disorders by gathering comprehensive medical, family, and mental health information, as well as securing a physical examination and lab tests to assess the sufferer's medical state.
  • Treatment services for cocaine abuse and addiction remain largely unutilized by most sufferers of these conditions.
  • The primary goals of recovery are abstinence, relapse prevention, and rehabilitation.
  • During the initial stage of abstinence, an individual who suffers from cocaine or other chemical dependency may need detoxification to help avoid or lessen the effects of withdrawal.
  • Often, much more challenging and time consuming than recovery from the physical aspects of cocaine addiction is psychological addiction.
  • The treatment of dual diagnosis seems to be more effective when treatment of the individual's mental illness is integrated with the treatment of the individual's chemical dependency.
  • Recovery from cocaine abuse is usually characterized by episodes of remission and relapse.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/20/2014


Women's Health

Find out what women really need.

Use Pill Finder Find it Now See Interactions

Pill Identifier on RxList

  • quick, easy,
    pill identification

Find a Local Pharmacy

  • including 24 hour, pharmacies

Interaction Checker

  • Check potential drug interactions
Search the Medical Dictionary for Health Definitions & Medical Abbreviations