Crack is a street drug that affects the central nervous system by increasing dopamine levels in the brain. Crack is extremely addictive, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, and can be smoked, snorted or dissolved in water and injected into a vein. Rock cocaine that has been heated makes a crackling sound as it becomes a vapor that can be smoked. Learning the signs and symptoms of crack or cocaine use and abuse may help family or friends seek help for a loved one.
Watch for signs of excessive bursts of energy. Crack offers the user a brief yet intense high that increases mental alertness and a sense of euphoria, according to Narconon, a California-based drug rehab and addiction treatment center. The crack user may not want or need to sleep as long as the drug is potent, which ranges from five to 30 minutes, depending on route of ingestion. He may talk fast. After the dose wears off, he may literally crash and grow lethargic, expressing the desire to sleep for days.
Watch for signs of shakiness or trembling, commonly known as jitters. Jitters are caused by increased levels of dopamine in the brain that lead to excessive energy. Tremors or hyperactivity may be noticed as the hands tremble or the person's legs or arms twitch or are in constant movement.
Pay attention to signs of nosebleeds or irritated nasal passages, a common sign of snorted cocaine. Irritation to the nasal linings and passages due to snorting may also be noted by constant sniffling and a runny nose, according to Narconon. Nosebleeds may be mild or severe, caused by damage to nasal lining. A person using crack for a period of time may lose the ability to smell.
Listen for sounds of hoarseness or difficulty talking. Smoking or snorting crack may damage mucous linings of the nose and throat, making it difficult to swallow and speak.
Look for signs of excessively red and bloodshot eyes. Dilated pupils are another sign that the person may be intoxicated from crack. When the pupils are dilated, the black portion of the eye that allows light to enter become larger than normal.
Pay attention to changes in behavior that include disruptions in sleeping habits, increased irritability or depression. Individuals using crack often miss work, distance themselves from their loved ones and develop erratic behavior that places a strain on personal and work relationships. As crack use increases, an individual may experience increased sensations of paranoia or hallucinations.