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Side Effects of Crack Cocaine and How to Get Help for an Addiction

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu, MD, MS

Updated on

22 Jun, 2022

Crack cocaine, an extremely dangerous illicit drug, is the most potent form in which cocaine comes. In fact, it is between 75% and 100% more powerful than regular cocaine. Because of this, addiction can develop rapidly, even causing the user to become addicted after their first use.

The main differences between cocaine and crack reside in the intensity of the drug being experienced and how the drug is found. Crack is more highly concentrated and potent than cocaine and is found in crystal rock form, while cocaine is found in powder and rock forms. Furthermore, while cocaine is the “rich man’s drug” because of its high cost, crack is often sold at such low prices that even teens can afford to buy it. Crack was developed as a cheaper alternative to cocaine, which makes it more accessible and affordable to users. This is extremely problematic for youth that tries crack out of curiosity and immediately become addicted. Once addiction begins, however, the expenses for crack skyrocket as the user needs more and more of this dangerous drug to sustain their addiction.

To avoid or mitigate the dangerous threat of addiction that this drug poses, you must seek help immediately if you find yourself wanting to try this drug or already taking/abusing this life-threatening drug. Additionally, learning the short and long-term effects that crack cocaine can have on you may deter you from trying the drug in the first place.

Short-Term Effects of Crack Cocaine

Crack causes a very intense, short-term high immediately after use, followed by the extreme opposite- feelings of severe depression, edginess, and a craving for more of the drug. Because of this, many people who turn to this drug may try to avoid the extreme withdrawal symptoms experienced after the effects subside. Furthermore, users who abuse this drug often don’t eat or sleep well and can experience increased heart rate, muscle spasms, convulsions, paranoia, anger, hostility, and anxiousness.

Regardless of the amount or frequency of this drug, crack cocaine increases the user’s risk of having a heart attack, stroke, seizure, or respiratory failure. Each of these effects can result in sudden death for the user. Other short-term effects of crack cocaine include:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature
  • Contracted blood vessels
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Hyperstimulation
  • Erratic, even violent behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Intense euphoria
  • Panic and psychosis

Each of these effects is experienced more immediately and intensely than powdered crack and can cause serious health concerns, even fatality, to the user even after one use. Furthermore, because crack is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, the risk of overdose is extremely high and can lead to convulsions, coma, and even death.

Long Time Effects of Crack

In addition to the short-term effects of crack cocaine, it can also cause various other long-term effects on the user. These long-term effects can include severe respiratory problems, including coughing, shortness of breath, lung damage, and bleeding, along with severe damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Furthermore, users risk developing infectious diseases since the body’s immune and repair systems are compromised from using this drug. With continued use, crack cocaine puts the user at risk of long-term sleep deprivation and loss of appetite, which can result in malnutrition and cause a host of other problems for the abuser. Additionally, since crack cocaine changes how the brain processes chemicals, the user will need more of the drug as time goes on to feel “normal.” That said, because coming down from this drug causes severe depression, a person may turn to anything to avoid feeling the intensity of the withdrawal, even committing a crime to obtain more of the drug or turning to suicide to end their misery.

Other long-term effects of smoking crack cocaine include:

  • Permanent damage to blood vessels of the ear and brain
  • High blood pressure, which can lead to heart attacks, stroke, and death
  • Liver, kidney, and lung damage
  • Severe chest pains
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Sexual issues, including reproductive damage and infertility
  • Disorientation, apathy, confusion, exhaustion
  • Increased risk of risky behavior
  • Delirium or psychosis
  • Irritability and mood disturbances

As previously mentioned, crack cocaine’s effects can be so severe that it causes fatality to the user. Therefore, it is imperative that if you struggle with an addiction to crack cocaine, seek medical help immediately.

How to Safely Detox from the Effects of Crack

Crack cocaine is a serious, even deadly, drug that can cause many health concerns for the user. To mitigate or avoid these serious health consequences, you must seek medical advice if you are abusing the drug currently. The best way to do this is to attend an inpatient drug rehab specializing in safely detoxing you off the drug, and that can help guide you on the path to sobriety. Because an addiction to crack cocaine is so severe, inpatient rehab is often the best route to recover because it eliminates all distractions and temptations from the outside world that can often compromise one’s sobriety.

Additionally, inpatient rehab has the specialized tools to teach you how to maintain long-term sobriety once you transition back into the real world. Lastly, inpatient rehab staffs on-site counselors can help one get to the root of why crack cocaine was being abused in the first place. If the core root of why the user was drawn to crack cocaine isn’t addressed, the user will often want to return to using the drug when times are difficult. Instead, having a therapist teach you healthier ways to cope with overwhelming emotions or stress will provide the stability you need to maintain a successful recovery in the long term.

If you are struggling with an addiction to crack cocaine, the time to get help is now. Infinite Recovery offers specialized programs for individuals struggling with addiction. There is hope to recover and live a happy, fulfilling life without drugs. Get in touch with us now. Your future self will thank you for the investment you’ll make into your well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does crack ruin your life?

Crack cocaine has many short and long-term health implications and consequences for the user. Even one dose of crack can be fatal or cause life-threatening health concerns.

What does crack do to the brain?

Crack can cause long-term damage to mental health and the brain. This can show up as emotional or mental disturbances. Because crack interferes with dopamine in the brain, withdrawing from crack can cause serious bouts of depression.

What does crack do to your stomach?

Using crack is associated with an increased risk of developing blood clots and can create gastrointestinal issues, including the development of ulcers and perforations in the stomach and intestines.

Is crack lung reversible?

Crack lung, an abnormally rapid lung clearance found in a crack user, may be at least partially reversible after 3 months when the user abstains from using crack.


Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. Drug-Free World. What is Crack Cocaine? How to Smoke Crack? Street Names for Crack – Drug-Free World. Accessed June 25, 2022.
  2. Frysh P. Paranoia. WebMD. Published September 9, 2021. Accessed June 25, 2022.
  3. Drug-Free World. Short- & Long-Term Side Effects of Smoking Crack Cocaine – Drug-Free World. Foundation for a Drug-Free World. Accessed June 25, 2022.

Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being a mother to two beautiful children.

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