Addressing the Crack Problem: Treatment
Crack is a highly addictive drug, but treatment and rehabilitation are available for people suffering from its use. There are two main types of treatments: medication and cognitive or behavioral therapy. As of late 2018, no medication exists to treat crack addicts, but the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is researching several promising options. Disulfiram, which has been used to treat alcoholism, is one candidate. The drug creates a negative physical reaction (nausea, vomiting, etc.) whenever the addicted person ingests alcohol. Researchers are hoping that it might help people who are addicted to both cocaine and alcohol. Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to treat the mood swings associated with the withdrawal process [source: ScienceDirect].
There are experimental projects underway, too. Scientists are exploring whether transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) of certain parts of the brain may help the body "forget" the pleasures associated with cocaine use. Experiments are still in progress, but test subjects have demonstrated rapid improvement from their addictions [source: Wadman].
Behavioral therapies are currently the most common way to treat crack addiction. Patients may be treated at either inpatient or outpatient centers. In 2016, 55,461 people were admitted to treatment centers for addiction to smoked cocaine, according to the Treatment Episode Data Set produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
One of the most popular behavioral therapies is contingency management, which rewards addicts for staying drug-free by giving them vouchers for everything from movies to gym memberships. Another approach is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches people how to avoid and/or deal with situations in which they might be tempted to use crack. People with severe addictions, mental illness or a criminal record may need to stay at a therapeutic community for a six- to 12-month period while they undergo rehabilitation and learn how to reenter society drug-free.
Originally Published: Nov 20, 2004
More Great Links
- Australian Government Department of Health. "The Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome." April 2004. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-cws
- Blake, Mariah. "The Damage Done: Crack Babies Talk Back," Columbia Journalism Review, Issue 5, September/October 2004. https://www.alternet.org/story/19830/%27crack_babies%27_talk_back
- Criminal Justice Policy Foundation. "Who Uses Crack Cocaine, and Why?" https://www.cjpf.org/who-uses-crack-cocaine-and-why/
- Drug Abuse Warning Network. "National Estimates of Drug-Related Emergency Department Visits, 2004-2011 - Illicits (excluding alcohol)." 2011. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/national-estimates-drug-related-emergency-department-visits-2004-2011-illicits-excluding
- Drug Policy Alliance. "Cocaine and Crack Facts." http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/cocaine-and-crack-facts
- Drug Policy Alliance. "Race and the Drug War." http://www.drugpolicy.org/issues/race-and-drug-war
- Esposito, Monica. "Cocaine Reached Highest Purity in a Decade According to the Latest European Drug Report." Cocaine Route Programme. June 11, 2018. https://cocaineroute.eu/cocaine-reached-highest-purity-in-a-decade-according-to-the-latest-european-drug-report/
- Foundation for a Drug-Free World. "Crack Cocaine: A Short History." https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/crackcocaine/a-short-history.html
- Gwynne, Kristen. "4 Biggest Myths About Crack." Salon. Aug. 10, 2013. https://www.salon.com/2013/08/10/busting_the_crack_propaganda_myths_partner/
- Haasen, Christian, et al. "Cocaine Use in Europe - A Multi-Centre Study." European Addiction Research 2004; 10:139-146.
- LaVille, Sandra. "Simple Test to Check Purity of the Powder that Gave Birth to New Killer." The Telegraph. June 25, 2002. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1398291/Simple-test-to-check-purity-of-the-powder-that-gave-birth-to-new-killer.html
- Mayo Clinic. "Drug Addiction." Oct. 26, 2017. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/drug-addiction/symptoms-causes/syc-20365112
- Meyer, Kurt D. and Zhang, Lubo. "Short- and Long-Term Adverse Effects of Cocaine Abuse During Pregnancy on the Heart Development." National Institute on Drug Abuse. Feb. 3, 2009. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2710813/
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Cocaine." July 2018. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. "What is Cocaine?" May 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-cocaine
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. "What are the Long-Term Effects of Cocaine Use?" May 2016. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
- Nestler, Eric J. "The Neurobiology of Cocaine Addiction." National Institute on Drug Abuse. Dec. 3, 2005.
- Nixon, Ron. "By Land, Sea or Catapult: How Smugglers Get Drugs Across the Border." New York Times. July 25, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/25/us/drugs-border-wall.html
- Oliva, Idaira and Wanat, Matthew J. "Ventral Tegmental Area Afferents and Drug-Dependent Behaviors." National Institutes of Health. March 7, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4780106/
- ProjectKnow. "Mixing Alcohol and Cocaine." https://www.projectknow.com/research/mixing-alcohol-and-crack-cocaine/
- ScienceDirect. "Randomized Clinical Trial of Disulfiram for Cocaine Dependence or Abuse During Buprenorphine Treatment." March 2014. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871613005231
- Scottish Government. "Cocaine and Crack Cocaine." April 21, 2004. https://www.gov.scot/Publications/2004/04/19271/36148
- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. "Enforcement Statistics FY2018." https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics
- United States Sentencing Commission. "Quick Facts: Drug Trafficking Offenses." 2017. https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/quick-facts/Drug_Trafficking_2017.pdf
- Wadman, Meredith. "Brain-altering magnetic pulses could zap cocaine addiction." Science. Aug. 29, 2017. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/08/brain-altering-magnetic-pulses-could-zap-cocaine-addiction
- Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Subordinate Monkeys More Likely To Choose Cocaine Over Food." ScienceDaily. April 7, 2008.
- White, Helene R. and Gorman, D.M. "Dynamic of the Drug-Crime Relationship." Criminal Justice. 2000. https://www.ncjrs.gov/criminal_justice2000/vol_1/02d.pdf
- Woody, Christopher. "Colombia Produces Most of the World's Cocaine — and Output is at a Record High." Business Insider. March 8, 2017. https://www.businessinsider.com/colombia-top-cocaine-producing-countries-record-production-2017-3
- The Vaults of Erowid. "Crack." https://erowid.org/chemicals/cocaine/crack_info1.shtml