Stimulant drugs work by increasing the activity in the central nervous system (CNS). Stimulants include legal substances like caffeine, prescription drugs like Adderall, and illicit drugs like meth and cocaine. Two of the most dangerous and addictive stimulants are crack and meth.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) estimates that more than 6 million people in the United States have abused crack at some point in their lives, and 2.5 million people reported using meth in 2021 alone.

Both crystal meth and crack cocaine cause similar side effects, such as increased energy, elevated heart rate, intense anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia. However, there are some key differences between the two drugs. In this article, you will learn about methamphetamine and crack cocaine, the differences between the two, and how to spot the signs of addiction.

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack cocaine is an illegal stimulant drug that is derived from powdered cocaine. It is a Schedule II Controlled Substance. Crack is made by mixing powdered cocaine with baking soda and cooking it at high temperatures to create a crystalized, rock-like substance. The name “crack” comes from the crackling sound it makes when heated up.

Crack originally emerged as a popular drug of abuse in the 1980s and it is still widely abused today. It is popular due to its affordability and potent high.People may abuse crack for a number of reasons, including self-medicating mental illnesses or underlying trauma. On the other hand, they might use crack to experience a euphoric high or increase their energy.

Many people switch from cocaine to crack as their tolerance increases and they seek a more potent, stronger high. Most people who misuse crack smoke it which produces effects instantly.

Short-term effects of crack abuse include:

  • Euphoria
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increased energy and focus 
  • Heightened blood pressure
  • Chest pain and anxiety
  • Paranoia and psychosis 
  • Increased confidence 
  • Hallucinations
  • Risky behaviors 

The effects of crack are short-lived, so people often binge on it, taking several doses over a short period of time. Binging on crack can quickly lead to crack cocaine addiction.

What is Meth?

Meth is a powerful and addictive stimulant drug that is rarely prescribed under the brand name Desoxyn for ADHD. However, most people who abuse or are addicted to meth buy it from illegal drug dealers off of the street. Illicit meth can come in pill form, crystal form, and even a powder. Like crack, it is usually smoked, however, it can also be snorted or injected. Like crack, meth is a Schedule II Controlled Substance.

Common side effects of meth include:

  • Increased heartbeat and breathing rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated body temperature 
  • A rush of euphoria and energy 
  • Anxiety or paranoia 
  • Aggressive or violent behaviors 
  • Shaking
  • Tremors 

Long-term meth use can lead to a variety of serious and even life-threatening health problems, including overdose. If you are addicted to meth you should seek help from a drug rehab program. These facilities will offer evidence-based therapy, relapse prevention planning, and expert support.

Understanding the Difference Between Crack and Meth

Although crack and meth share the characteristics of being potent and addictive stimulants, they differ significantly.

Crack originates from cocaine, derived from coca leaves, whereas meth is a synthetic substance that is man-made and often composed of hazardous household chemicals.

Furthermore, there’s a major difference in the duration of their effects. Crack’s impact is brief, typically lasting around 30 minutes at the most. Meth, however, is a long-acting drug that can induce a high lasting up to 16 hours.

Another difference is that meth has legitimate use in medical settings for conditions like ADHD, obesity, and narcolepsy, whereas crack cocaine remains an illicit substance with no recognized medical applications.

Despite these distinctions, both substances pose severe risks when abused. Seeking professional assistance is crucial for individuals struggling with addiction to either crack or meth.

Why Do People Abuse Stimulants Like Meth and Crack?

Since drugs like meth and crack can produce unwanted side effects such as paranoia, insomnia, and psychosis, many people find it difficult to understand why a loved one may get addicted to them.

Initially, the first encounter with meth or crack brings about sensations of euphoria, confidence, and heightened energy. However, the negative repercussions typically emerge with regular abuse, by which point, they may already be physically and emotionally reliant on the substance.

Individuals turn to meth and crack as a means of coping with challenging life circumstances. Despite recognizing the adverse effects caused by these substances, addiction often renders it difficult to break free. Fortunately, drug rehab programs offer a pathway for individuals to overcome their addiction to crack or meth.

Is Meth or Crack More Addictive?

Meth and crack are two of the most addictive drugs known to man, but one is not more addictive than the other. These drugs are equally addictive and dangerous.

Signs of Crack or Meth Addiction

Whether someone is abusing crack cocaine or crystal meth, the symptoms of addiction may be similar. Common signs of addiction include:

  • Encountering financial difficulties due to substance use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms during periods of abstinence
  • Displaying symptoms of being high such as heightened energy, aggression, or insomnia
  • Losing interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Needing to increase the dosage to achieve the desired effect (tolerance)
  • Continuing to use crack or meth despite facing social consequences.
  • Neglecting responsibilities at home, school, or work
  • Continuing crack or meth use despite adverse physical or mental health effects
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Having difficulty controlling the amount of meth or crack consumed

Both meth and crack abuse are likely to cause devastating long-term health effects. Like other stimulants, they cause extensive damage to the heart due to the strain caused by elevated heart rate and blood pressure. Other long-term effects of stimulant abuse include:

  • Cardiovascular issues such as heart attacks and strokes
  • Respiratory problems including chronic bronchitis
  • Neurological complications such as seizures or movement disorders
  • Gastrointestinal issues like stomach pain or ulcers
  • Dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease
  • Mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, or psychosis
  • Increased risk of infectious diseases due to needle-sharing (for intravenous drug users)
  • Sexual dysfunction and reproductive issues
  • Skin problems including severe acne or skin infections
  • Cognitive impairment and memory problems

Addiction treatment programs provide support, evidence-based treatment, and detox services to help people quit stimulants and recover successfully. With the help of a detox and treatment center, individuals can learn to maintain long-term recovery and avoid relapse in the future.

Find Treatment Now

If you or a loved one are struggling with crack or meth addiction, 1st Step Behavioral Health is here to help.

1st Step Behavioral Health is a licensed dual-diagnosis long-term addiction treatment facility that is accredited by the Joint Commission. We focus on the physiological rebalancing of the individual through medical, physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual care. Whether you’re addicted to crack cocaine, meth, or any other stimulant drug, we have treatment programs that can help you.
To learn more about your treatment options or to get started with a confidential, risk-free assessment, please contact us today.

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