• Alcohol Facts
  • While nearly always smoked, there are reports of users injecting crack.
  • The most popular method is to smoke the lumps of crack in a two-chambered water pipe.
  • Crack is sold in small plastic vials in the form of small white, gray or beige rough chunks that can be smoked in a marijuana or tobacco cigarette, or in a pipe stem often made of glass.
  • Serious respiratory problems are often seen in crack users, including lung damage, chest congestion, wheezing, spitting up black phlegm, extreme hoarseness, and burning of the lips, tongue and throat.
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Crack Addiction

Crack is an extremely powerful drug. Crack addiction is inevitable; once an individual has tried crack they are unable to predict or control the extent to which they will continue to use. Crack is probably the most addictive substance yet devised. Crack users need more and more crack to attain the same high and avoid the intense "crash" or depression that follows their high. They become physically and psychologically dependent on crack, which often is a result of only a few doses taken within a few days. This dependence on crack leads to crack addiction. To balance off the intense lows, crack users often use other drugs, such as alcohol, hash or marijuana in addition to crack.

This is the process of crack addiction: the soon to be crack addict takes his or her first hit of crack. Upon inhalation of this powerful drug the users body instantly begins the addiction process. The individual's mental and emotional being is soon to follow, but for now just their body suffers from the initials stages of crack addiction. After the first few times of crack abuse their mind slowly starts the crack addiction process. This grows stronger and stronger until the addict mentally believes that they cannot live without crack. They now are entangled in a full fledged crack addiction. Shortly after this occurs crack takes complete control over their emotions.

Once the individual's emotions have been over ridden by their crack addiction they no longer feel normal without being intoxicated. When this occurs they feel the need to use more crack just to feel normal. In order to get high they have to take an immense amount of crack. Their crack addiction has infiltrated all areas of their life. They can no longer function physically, emotionally, or mentally without smoking crack. This cycle of addiction continues until the individual either quits using crack or dies.

The above process of crack addiction demonstrates the power of this insidious drug. Even though death lurks around the corner, individuals with an addiction to crack continue to uses with no regard for their life.

Crack addiction is attributed in part to its short-lived high which causes the user to want another hit almost immediately. Smoking crack delivers large quantities of the drug to the lungs which goes directly to the brain in a concentrated form through the bloodstream, producing effects comparable to intravenous injection.

Addiction to crack has spread out from the cities and into residential communities nation wide. More than three-quarters (32 of 42) of law enforcement, and Pulse Check sources consider crack to be widely available in their communities. In most of these communities, crack continues to be locally processed and distributed. Settings for crack sales include cars, parties, schools, college campuses, raves, and shopping malls. Crack tends to be sold in 0.1 and 0.2 gram rocks which generally cost approximately $10 and $20.

What is the scope of Crack Addiction in the United States?

Crack cocaine remains a serious problem in United States. The NHSDA estimated the number of current crack users to be about 604,000 in 1997, which does not reflect any significant change since 1988.

The 1998 Monitoring the Future Survey, which annually surveys teen attitudes and recent drug use, reports that lifetime and past-year use of crack increased among eighth graders to its highest levels since 1991, the first year data were available for this grade. The percentage of eighth graders reporting crack use at least once in their lives increased from 2.7 percent in 1997 to 3.2 percent in 1998. Past-year use of crack also rose slightly among this group, although no changes were found for other grades.

The Legality of Crack Addiction

Due to the nature of crack addiction, there is a strong link to crime as users seek to fund their habit. During FY 2000, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) made 8,718 arrests involving powder cocaine and 6,734 arrests involving crack. More than 3,000 of those arrested by the DEA for crack related offenses were between the ages of 21 and 30. The DEA made 13,588 cocaine and crack cocaine related arrests during FY 2001, representing 38.8% of the total arrests made by the DEA during that year. Also, during FY 2001, 41.2% of the Federal defendants nationwide were charged with committing drug offenses. Crack was involved in 4,941 (20.4%) of the Federal drug cases.

  • Crack is the only drug for which the first offense of simple possession can trigger a federal mandatory minimum sentence. Possession of 5 grams of crack will trigger a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence. "Simple possession of any quantity of any other substance by a first-time offender-including powder cocaine-is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum of one year in prison." (21 U.S.C. 844.)
    Source: US Sentencing Commission, Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (Washington DC: US Sentencing Commission, February 1995), p. iii.
  • In federal court today, low-level crack dealers and first-time offenders sentenced for the trafficking of crack receive an average sentence of 10 years and six months. Source: US Sentencing Commission, Special Report to the Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy (Washington DC: US Sentencing Commission, February 1995), p. 150

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