Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Crack Addiction

Drugs that deliver short intense “highs” carry a higher potential for addiction than drugs producing mild to moderate highs for longer durations. Compared to cocaine, crack, a cocaine derivative, delivers a short intense high, which makes for a highly addictive stimulant drug.

These effects bring on symptoms of crack addiction at a much faster rate than cocaine addiction. Someone who starts out using crack on a regular basis will likely exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms of crack addiction within one week’s time.

With ongoing use, symptoms of crack addiction gradually start to take over a person’s life as extreme paranoia, violent behaviors, depression and diminished mental capacity gradually steal away his or her sense of self and well being.

Crack vs. Cocaine

paranoia from crack

Crack abuse can make a person very paranoid.

Snorting cocaine delivers the full effects of the drug within 15 to 30 minutes. As crack exists as a cooked form of cocaine, it’s consequently more concentrated than its predecessor, according to the University of Maryland.

Users typically smoke crack, the finished product, in rock form, which delivers the full effects of the drug almost instantaneously. While cocaine addictions can develop fairly quickly with regular use, a person can become addicted to crack as of the first time using the drug.


Like cocaine, crack gains direct access to brain chemical processes. Over time, chemical imbalances take shape as crack’s effects overexert brain chemical functions.

Paranoia, a psychological symptom of crack addiction, develops as the drug works to deteriorate brain regions responsible regulating reasoning and emotions. Early on, symptoms of paranoia appear as undue suspiciousness, which grows more intense or severe the longer a person keeps using.


Crack directly targets dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain. In effect, crack stimulates neurotransmitter secretions of these chemicals in excess amounts.

As dopamine and serotonin play central roles in helping regulate a person’s sense of contentment and well-being, depression symptoms of crack addiction soon develop with ongoing use. These symptoms occur with greater frequency and become more intense the longer a person continues to use.


As a central nervous system stimulant drug, crack’s “speed-like” effects eventually burnout essential brain functions with ongoing use. After a while, users become unable to inhibit aggressive impulses, which greatly increase their propensity for violence, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine.

In this state, symptoms of crack addiction take the form of violent behavior displays. In effect, unexpected movements or even laughter from others is perceived as hostile in intent.

Cognitive Deficits

Long-term brain chemical imbalances not only disrupt normal brain functions, but also lead to gradual deterioration of brain structures. For this reason, symptom of crack addiction can lead to permanent damage in some people, especially within the cognitive centers of the brain.

Cognitive deficits may take the form of:

  • Impaired logic and reasoning functions
  • Poor judgment and decision making
  • Inability to focus or concentrate for sustained periods of time

Lifestyle Symptoms

As crack’s effects start to take over essential brain processes, compulsive drug-seeking and drug-using behaviors gradually take over a person’s daily routines. At this point, symptoms of crack addiction start to interfere with a person’s ability to function in everyday life.

Lifestyle symptoms may take the form of:

  • Losing a job
  • Divorce or relationship breakup
  • Problems with the law
  • Financial difficulties

Someone exhibiting lifestyle symptoms has entered into a full-fledged addiction from which there’s no turning back unless he or she gets needed treatment help.