Whether you already know your loved one is using crack cocaine or you merely suspect it, you may be wondering what physical damage it can do to the user. One of the problems with crack cocaine is that the high from it only lasts 10-15 minutes. This means, to stay high, it must be used frequently, which can be very hard on the body.
Short-Term Issues: Immediate things that happen after using crack cocaine include a rise in blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature. These reactions can cause a fatal stroke or heart attack. Other short-term effects include large pupils and rapid breathing. Your loved one may become nauseated and possibly vomit shortly after using. And there is always the risk of seizures, even with a one-time use. Hallucinations and delusions are also possible.
Long-Term Issues: Severe dental issues are common among long-term crack cocaine users. There's a lack of appetite caused by the drug, so weight loss and malnutrition can frequently be observed. The kidneys, heart and lungs can be damaged beyond repair, leading to kidney failure, chronic heart failure and COPD/emphysema. Long-term crack cocaine use means frequent blood pressure spikes, which can cause brain damage. This may lead to irreversible memory loss or an inability to concentrate and make decisions. If your loved one is injecting crack cocaine instead of smoking it, and using shared needles, they are at risk for infectious diseases. Skin abscesses and staph infections are common with long-term IV crack cocaine addicts.
Mental Health: Crack cocaine can cause mental health issues such as severe depression, paranoia and violent behaviors. In addition, many users feel like bugs are crawling on them just below the skin's surface, which causes the user to pick at his or her body until it bleeds. These self-inflicted wounds can become infected.