Crack Side Effects | Short- & Long-Term Effects Of Crack Cocaine

Manish Mishra, MBBS

Medically Reviewed By: Manish Mishra, MBBS

on December 11, 2022

The short-term effects of crack cocaine use may include high blood pressure, anxiety, and hyperstimulation. The long-term effects likely occur after chronic abuse and can include lung damage, heart attack, dependence, and addiction.

Crack cocaine consists of powdered cocaine that is mixed with other substances like water and baking soda and then cooked until it becomes a solid form. This cooking process leads to a more concentrated drug that increases the likelihood of repeated substance abuse and addiction.

The drug also comes with many different side effects. Some of these effects are temporary, but others are long-term and can be permanent.

Short-Term Effects Of Crack Cocaine Use

There are quite a few short-term effects that come with crack cocaine abuse. They can be split into two different categories: physical effects and psychological effects.

Short-Term Physical Effects

The physical effects of crack abuse may include:

  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • dilated pupils
  • insomnia 
  • loss of appetite
  • intense cravings
  • contracted blood vessels
  • hyperstimulation
  • seizures

Short-Term Psychological Effects

The psychological/behavioral effects that can come with crack cocaine use include:

  • euphoria
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • talkativeness
  • depression
  • psychosis

Long-Term Effects Of Crack Cocaine Use

Many long-term effects can occur if you abuse crack cocaine over a long period of time. Some of these effects can be treated while others may be permanent issues.

Lung Damage

Using crack cocaine for a long time can cause your lung function to slowly deteriorate and lead to many respiratory problems. It can also increase the chances of lung infections like pneumonia and worsen certain respiratory diseases like asthma.

Heart Problems

Crack cocaine can also damage the heart. Long-term use can have significant effects on the cardiovascular system and increase the risk of:

  • heart attacks (which can lead to sudden death)
  • high blood pressure
  • stroke
  • irregular heartbeat


Due to the decrease in appetite crack cocaine use causes, malnutrition is also a major issue for those who regularly abuse crack. 

Those struggling with addiction are also likely to forget to eat or use crack instead of eating. That can very easily lead to a lack of necessary vitamins and minerals.

Mental Health Issues

Smoking crack cocaine sends the drug right to the brain (often within seconds) and with chronic use, the drug can have very serious long-term effects on it. It can change how the brain functions and increase the risk of stroke.

It can also increase the risk of the following long-term mental health and cognitive issues:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • memory loss
  • impaired judgment
  • learning difficulties

Dependence & Addiction

If you abuse crack cocaine for a long time, your body will likely build up a physical dependence on it. When this happens, your body can find it difficult to function properly without the drug. If you try to stop using it, your body will likely react with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

These uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which include intense cravings, sleep disturbances, and agitation, often lead people to start using the drug again so they can get some relief. This continues the cycle of addiction.

To help make withdrawal symptoms a little easier to deal with, a detox program is often recommended. While in a program, healthcare providers will give you medication to ease the symptoms. Once you’re stable, you can move to the next step in your recovery.


Any use of crack cocaine increases your risk of an overdose, but the longer you use it, the greater the risk of overdose. 

In Ohio in 2020, cocaine-related overdose deaths were involved in 25% of all unintentional fatalities.

Some of the signs and symptoms of a crack cocaine overdose can include:

  • very fast heart rate
  • bluish color of the skin
  • fast breathing
  • coma
  • seizures
  • loss of urine control
  • high body temperature
  • high blood pressure

Treatment For Crack Cocaine Addiction

For those looking to prevent any of the long-term effects of crack cocaine abuse and who want to quit using the drug entirely, there are many forms of addiction treatment options available. 

While there are no FDA-approved medications to treat cocaine addiction, there are several forms of therapy that have been shown to help.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT has you look at the negative and unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that lead you to drug abuse and addiction and teaches you how to change them into more positive alternatives.

Contingency Management

Contingency management works by providing positive reinforcement through incentives. If you pass a drug test or reach a certain milestone of sobriety, you’re rewarded with an incentive.

If you or a loved one live with crack cocaine addiction or another substance use disorder, please call our helpline today. At the Ohio Recovery Center, we offer a variety of crack addiction treatment options including detox, inpatient treatment, and ongoing aftercare support.

  1. Department of Justice: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) — Drug Fact Sheet: Cocaine
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine DrugFacts
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — How is cocaine addiction treated?
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse — What are the long-term effects of cocaine use?
  6. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Intoxication
  7. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine withdrawal
  8. The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry — Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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