Cocaine and Crack Abuse 

Cocaine is typically snorted or injected into a vein. It can also be rubbed onto the gums. Crack is made from cocaine. It can be smoked for a stonger effect. Cocaine causes a very powerful mental and physical dependence. 

Once you have a dependence, you will do just about anything to get the drug and re-create the feeling it gives you. This can increase your risk for:

  • Overdose that may lead to death

  • Loss of your job, your home, or your family

  • Accidental injuries to yourself or others while you are under the influence of the drug (in a car or at home)

  • Arrest, conviction, and jail sentence for possession of an illegal substance or for driving under the influence

Medically, cocaine can affect every organ in your body. It can cause:

  • Chest pain, heart rhythm problem (arrhythmia), heart attack, and heart failure

  • Very high blood pressure

  • Severe headache, seizures, loss of consciousness,and stroke

  • Anxiety, psychosis, confusion, paranoia, and hallucinations

  • Nasal damage from snorting

  • Nausea, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite

  • Chronic bronchitis and shortness of breath from smoking

  • Higher risk for HIV infection, hepatitis B or C, and heart infection. This is from IV use, risky sexual behavior while high, or both. 

  • Kidney failure

Home care

These tips will help you care for yourself at home:

  • Admit you have a drug problem. Ask for help from your family and close friends.

  • See a mental health provider or counselor if you have depression or anxiety.

  • Join a self-help group for drug abuse.

  • Stay away from people who abuse drugs themselves or who tempt you to continue abusing the drug.

  • Eat a balanced diet and start a regular exercise program.

If you continue to use IV cocaine, lower your risk of getting or spreading infection by:

  • Using only sterile equipment

  • Not reusing or sharing equipment

  • Cleaning your skin before injecting

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

Contact one of the resources below for help:

  • National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. 800-475-HOPE, www.ncadd.org

  • Narcotics Anonymous, www.na.org

  • National Alcohol and Substance Abuse Information Center. 800-784-6776, www.addictioncareoptions.com. This center can tell you about drug treatment programs in your area.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these occur:

  • Seizure

  • Hard time breathing or slow, irregular breathing

  • Chest pain

  • Sudden weakness on one side of your body or sudden trouble speaking

  • Very drowsy or trouble awakening

  • Rapid heart rate

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Agitation, anxiety, or unable to sleep

  • Unintended weight loss. This means more than 10 to 15 pounds over 6 months.

  • Hallucination, severe depression, or thoughts of harming yourself or another

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Redness, pain, or swelling at an injection site

  • Loss of vision or decreased vision

© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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