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How to Help a Loved One with Crack Cocaine Addiction

How to Help a Loved One with Crack Cocaine Addiction

Are you concerned about a loved one or family member’s addiction? Or maybe you just suspect they are using drugs but are unsure? This is not an easy situation to be in and can cause a great deal of stress, worry, and anxiety. The road to recovery is a long one, but a big part of an addict’s recovery is having a healthy support system that is cheering them on. Whether they are experiencing addiction to crack, cocaine, or any other substance, your loved ones can help you receive the help you need.

Signs Your Loved One is Abusing

Firstly, you may be unsure if your loved one is suffering from crack or cocaine addiction. There are several signs that indicate when an individual is using. It’s important to recognize that as someone close to this person, you cannot make excuses or enable their behavior. Try to look at this situation objectively, especially when considering the following signs.

1. Crack, Cocaine, and Paraphernalia

Would you recognize the drug or the tools needed to use it?  Crack and cocaine are almost identical chemically, but look differently and are consumed differently. 

Crack Cocaine appears as white or off-white crystal rocks or pellets. Often stored in small plastic bags or cellophane wrappers. Crack is usually smoked. 

If a user cannot obtain a crack pipe, they may use an emptied-out light bulb, tin foil, and straw, or aluminum cans. Look for burn marks on these items. 

Cocaine usually looks like a fine-grained white powder that is also kept in small bags. Cocaine is usually snorted or injected. Rolled-up cash or cut-up straws can be used to snort cocaine. Needles, syringes, metal spoons that are burnt on the bottom, are all tools used to inject cocaine. 

If you are finding items such as these in your loved ones’ car, bedroom, or other personal spaces, this is a huge indicator they are suffering from crack or cocaine addiction. 

2. Cycles of Extreme Energy and Fatigue

Individuals who are abusing crack or cocaine will have extreme bursts of energy. This is because cocaine is a stimulant that causes individuals to speak at a faster pace, act erratically, or appear on edge or paranoid. They may be pacing around, staying up all night, and exhibiting extreme focus. Oftentimes, crack or cocaine will act as an appetite suppressant causing individuals to not eat regular meals and lose weight. 

Once the high wears off the individual will likely experience extreme fatigue. The individual might appear overly tired, or sleep for an entire day or more. Other symptoms of “coming down” or withdrawal include muscle pain, depression, and anxiety, or sometimes suicidal thoughts. 

3. Oral Health Decline

Smoking crack cocaine can cause rapid oral health deterioration. Dry mouth, teeth grinding, and the acidic nature of crack create an environment for weakened enamel, bacteria growth, and overall gum and tooth degradation. Bleeding in the mouth, gum recession, and rapid tooth decay can be an obvious signs of crack addiction.

4. Crack/ Cocaine Overdose

An overdose is a medical emergency. If you suspect a loved one is addicted to crack or cocaine, know the signs of overdose. Symptoms can include enlarged pupils, chest pain, seizures, and hallucinations. If you suspect someone is overdosing, call 911 right away. The individual could be having a heart attack, stroke, or other deadly problem. 

Am I Enabling Them?

You may not be familiar with the term ‘enabler’. An enabler is someone who exhibits a pattern of behavior by someone close to an addict. The behavior essentially makes it easier for the addict to continue using drugs. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of enabling when you care for and love someone who is in active addiction.

Some questions you may need to ask yourself are as follows:

  • Do you give this individual money? Or “loan” them money? (but they usually don’t pay you back)
  • Are you providing them with housing, transportation, or other essentials that they should be able to provide for themselves?
  • Make excuses for their work or school problems?
  • Is it possible you help this individual avoid the consequences of their addiction? For example, like bailing them out of jail. 

A part of addiction that often motivates individuals to seek help, is experiencing the discomfort, shame, or legal consequences due to their addiction. A natural instinct is to want to help someone you love, but in the case of addiction, it is doing more harm than good. 

Letting an individual with an addiction experience “rock bottom” or consequences of their bad choices, is sometimes the only way for them to seek substance abuse treatment. 

How to Receive Help With Crack/ Cocaine Addiction

If you are certain your loved one or family member is suffering from cocaine or crack addiction, now what? You may be feeling helpless or at a loss of what to do. Try speaking with the individuals’ other family members or loved ones and see if they feel the same way, and are also suspecting drug addiction. After that, it’s time to talk to them about the drug problem. 

Try to speak with them at a time when they appear level-headed and don’t seem heavily inebriated. Create the conversation as a two-way dialogue instead of a one-sided lecture. Express your feelings in a calm way that shows you care about them and want them to be happy and healthy. 

It’s easy to become angry or upset at the choices your loved one is making. The actions of addicts aren’t only damaging to themselves, but they’re damaging to their family and friends as well. Do your best to keep your own feelings in check when you talk to this person. Encouragement and a shared optimism for the future are more likely to help an addict choose to get help. 

If you feel you’ve been enabling them, make sure to stop the behavior in order to encourage them to get treatment.
If your loved one is ready to seek help, contact Harm Reduction Center in South Florida. Harm Reduction Center can help someone with addiction treatment at any stage. A private healthcare facility in south Florida that offers individualized addiction treatment with evidence-based practices.