The Long Term Health Risks of Crack Abuse

Crack is a highly addictive form of concentrated cocaine that has been mixed with other chemicals. Crack has a relatively short high but can lead to long-term health risks that can affect the mind and body with conditions like crack lung, psychosis, and heart disease.

Crack cocaine and health risks

Crack cocaine is an illicit stimulant that affects the central nervous system (CNS). Crack comes in a crystallized form that resembles glass or small rocks that is heated and the resulting fumes inhaled for their euphoric effects. The high felt from crack is often fleeting, leading those who abuse the substance to do more of it in a concentrated period of time. 

Sustained crack abuse can lead to many health complications, both physical and psychological as well as other negative effects.

Respiratory problems: crack lung

Inhaling crack cocaine fumes directly, or freebasing, can lead to an acute pulmonary syndrome known as crack lung.[1] Crack lung is a secondary syndrome that occurs after a prolonged inflammatory pulmonary injury has occurred.

Crack lung is associated with symptoms including fever, chest pain, hemoptysis, hypoxemia, diffuse alveolar infiltrates, lung disease, and respiratory failure.[2]

Heart problems from crack abuse

Crack cocaine is a potent stimulant that increases brain function as well as heart rate and blood pressure. Continued abuse of crack can put tremendous strain on the heart and blood vessels and can lead to serious health complications, such as:[3] 

  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat

Decreased mental health and crack abuse

Reports and studies have found direct correlations between cocaine abuse and decreased mental health. The same is also true for crack cocaine abuse with many frequent users reporting at least one of the following symptoms:[4]

  • Anxiety

  • Severe depression

  • irritability

  • Paranoia

  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis

  • Confusion

  • Reduced sex drive
  • Psychosis

  • Hallucinations

A 2020 report also found that there was a link between increased suicide attempts and deaths in crack cocaine users.[5]

Other symptoms of crack abuse

Prolonged crack abuse causes a multitude of additional problems that can impact a user's wellbeing. These include:

  • Increased risk of catching an infectious disease
  • Weight loss
  • Tooth decay
  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Brain damage
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sleep deprivation

Crack addiction

Crack abuse not only affects mental health, it also directly affects brain function. Continued crack abuse over time can rewire the brain’s reward system by flooding it with dopamine, causing the user to not experience pleasure or satisfaction from regular activities. This leads to a crack dependence forming which if left unchecked can become an addiction

If you or someone you care about is suffering from a crack addiction then contact a rehab center today. Our directory of rehabs and treatment facilities across the U.S. can help you find crack addiction treatment in a town or city near you.