Substance Use

What Are the Side Effects of Crack Abuse?

crack cocaine powder

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Side Effects of Crack Abuse

Crack cocaine produces intense short-term and long-term effects. Smoking crack can quickly escalate from a one-off social activity to a full-blown crack addiction, as you can become addicted to crack the first time you use it. Keep reading to learn more about the side effects of crack abuse, crack cocaine addiction, and how to get help today.

To learn about Zinnia Health’s substance use treatment programs, click here. We offer a wide range of inpatient and outpatient recovery programs, comprehensive therapy options, detox, intervention, and much more for a wide range of addictions.

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What Is Crack?

According to the Department of Justice, crack cocaine, often referred to only as “crack,” is a highly addictive stimulant that’s derived from powdered cocaine. Crack is in the form of small, hard, white chunks. It is a deadlier substance than all other forms of cocaine.

People often become addicted to crack within two to three weeks of starting to use it, and in some cases, people can become instantly addicted to crack the first time they use it. Crack rose to popularity in the 1980s due to the ease and low cost of its manufacture.

Other names for crack include:

  • Beat
  • Candy
  • 24/7
  • Chemical
  • Cookies
  • Dice
  • French fries
  • Gravel
  • Grit
  • Hail
  • Rock
  • Black rock
  • Flake
  • Big C

What Are Common Side Effects of Crack?

Two tell-tale signs that someone is using crack are hyperactivity and overconfidence.

Other common signs of crack abuse include:

  • Getting into legal trouble
  • Risk-taking or engaging in risky behaviors that are uncharacteristic
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, work, and/or school
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Burned and/or cracked lips and fingers

What Are the Short-Term Side Effects of Crack?

The effects of smoking crack vary from person to person, largely due to the unpredictability of the drug’s contents. Some of the most common short-term effects of crack include:

  • Anxiety
  • Inability to sit still
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Disturbed sleep patterns
  • Dilated eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • “Coke bugs” — feeling like bugs are crawling under the skin
  • Heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Death

What Are the Long-Term Side Effects of Crack?

Long-term crack cocaine use carries the risk of more serious side effects, such as:

  • Depression
  • Permanent blood vessel damage
  • High blood pressure
  • Reproductive damage and infertility
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Abscesses
  • Liver damage
  • Lung damage
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Exhaustion
  • Severe tooth decay
  • Malnutrition
  • Paranoid behavior
  • Respiratory problems
  • Psychosis
  • Kidney failure
  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Brain seizures
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden death

Does Crack Affect Your Personality?

Crack use can directly cause changes and permanent damage to your brain function, altering your personality through the following behavioral health issues:

  • Confusion
  • Paranoia
  • Mood changes and mood instability
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations

What Drugs, Substances, or Supplements Interact With Crack?

Crack cocaine should never be mixed with any other substances, as that can greatly increase the risk of dangerous and life-threatening side effects. The most common substances that people combine with crack cocaine include:


The combination of alcohol and crack is dangerous and can be life-threatening because of the production of a metabolite known as cocaethylene. While crack and alcohol have their own strong side effects, when they are combined and cocaethylene is produced, the effects become even more dramatic.

Cocaethylene increases toxicity to the heart, liver, and other organs, increasing the risk of serious side effects of crack use.

Some common effects of cocaethylene that start in the liver include:

  • Stroke
  • Impaired judgment
  • Chest pain
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Spontaneous heart attack
  • Sedation
  • Coma
  • Damage to the veins, heart tissue, and arteries

Combining crack cocaine and alcohol also increases the risk of death dramatically. If you are struggling to quit using crack cocaine, you are advised to undergo a medically supervised drug detox program. Learn about the detox programs at Zinnia Health.


When someone mixes a stimulant, like crack cocaine, with a depressant, like an opioid or heroin, it’s known as a “speedball” or “speedballing.”

Stimulants and heroin exert opposite effects on the brain, creating a “push-pull” reaction, which users experience as an intense rush and enhanced effects of both drugs.

The dangers of mixing opioids and crack include:

  • An intense state of confusion
  • Incoherence
  • Blurred vision
  • Stupor
  • Drowsiness
  • Mental impairment
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Respiratory failure


Mixing crack with antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro can increase the risk of “serotonin syndrome.” This happens when the brain becomes overloaded with serotonin and can cause:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Tremors
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Shivering
  • Death


People who mix crack cocaine and cannabis often do so with the hope of achieving a more pronounced high. Mixing stimulants and depressants can confuse the body and brain and lead to dangerous side effects, including:

  • A higher risk of overdose. Due to marijuana’s relaxing properties, crack cocaine users may use more crack than they would if using crack alone.
  • Increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
  • Having an accident. Both cannabis and crack give users a false sense of well-being, alter their perception of reality, and cause them to become less alert to danger. These lowered inhibitions mean they will be more willing to take risks and participate in activities they otherwise would not, leading to a higher risk of being injured or killed in an accident.
  • Higher chances of developing a mental health condition due to the increased paranoia both substances can cause.
  • Developing a drug addiction to one or both substances.

Zinnia Health Can Help

If you believe you or a loved one is suffering from a crack addiction, Zinnia Health is here for you. We offer addiction treatment and supportive care at our inpatient facilities to help you make a full recovery. We also provide group counseling and outpatient services to help curb cravings and teach you healthy coping skills.

Call our helpline 24/7 at (855) 430-9439 or reach out virtually to learn more. With Zinnia Health, recovery is possible.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
Why call us? Why call us