19 July 2018

Addiction in the News: Crack Cocaine Addiction – Is It on the Rise?

According to a report in the June edition of Drink and Drugs News, crack cocaine use could be increasing. This suggests that greater numbers of people are likely to need specialist treatment for crack cocaine addiction. The DDN report in June 2018 says there are two main reasons why powder cocaine users may be turning to crack cocaine. Firstly, the stigma once associated with crack use is breaking down. Increasing numbers of people, who previously would have considered crack to be a drug associated with crime and squalor, are switching to the drug to seek a more ‘rewarding’ high. Secondly, there is now a greater availability of crack cocaine, due to the upsurge of ‘county lines’ gangs, who are targeting small towns across the country.The Express picks up on the county lines drugs trade with a story on July 14th 2018 from Swadlincote in the Midlands. In 18 months, Derbyshire Police have made 80 drug-related arrests in the former mining town, which has a population of 32,000 people. Drug dealers from as far away as London have recruited local drug users as runners, including children as young as 12. They are selling drugs including crack cocaine and heroin to local people, expanding their markets for illegal drug supply.

Does the upsurge in supply and demand indicate greater levels of crack cocaine addiction?

Both the Drink & Drugs News report and the Express piece say it’s not just existing crack cocaine users who are affected. New groups of people are now seeking out crack cocaine and being targeted by dealers. DDN highlight workers in the construction industry, for example, who once would have used powder cocaine, but who now smoke crack. The Express article indicates that vulnerable people may be new targets for ‘county lines’ gangs, including isolated older men who are in contact with sex workers.

And certainly, the most up-to-date scientific research suggests that cocaine use does have major impacts on the brain over time. Researchers at the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, for example, say that cocaine “directly stimulates the brain’s reward centre, and, more importantly, induces long-term changes to the reward circuitry that are responsible for addictive behaviour”. They have recently identified that a gene called Maged1 plays a crucial role in controlling pathological changes in the brain, induced by cocaine use.

At UKAT, we believe that both crack cocaine and powder cocaine are highly addictive drugs. Prolonged use is likely to result in an addiction, which typically progresses over time with greater associated harms. Research shows there is a mixture of genetic, environmental and psychological factors, which contribute to cocaine addiction. The specifics of these factors are always unique to each client we treat in our UK addiction treatment centres. However, there are many areas of shared experience, when it comes to the way in which cocaine affects people who use the drug. The physiological effects of cocaine, for example – including the brief and intense high, followed by a sharp withdrawal that often induces strong cravings to use more cocaine – most addicts can identify with these physical and mental impacts of taking cocaine.

a photo of a graoup therapy session

Crack cocaine treatment options with UK Addiction Treatment

UKAT have a wide range of effective treatments for crack cocaine addiction. Often a period of residential detoxification and rehabilitation is advisable for people who regularly use crack cocaine. Many of the clients we treat are poly-drug users or they have an addiction to both cocaine and alcohol, for example. In these cases, a medically-supervised detox will often be needed to ensure that the physical withdrawal is as safe and comfortable as possible. Our clinical teams provide medical care throughout the physical detoxification process, monitoring and supporting our clients 24 hours a day. Our therapeutic teams provide structured support in the first days and weeks of the recovery process; typically, this is when cravings to use cocaine can be very intense and emotions can be extremely difficult for people to manage alone. With all our residential addiction treatment programmes, we offer our clients a free aftercare programme too – providing ongoing support as people establish their new life in recovery.

There are other treatment options too, which can sometimes be relevant to a person with an addiction to crack cocaine. These include interventions, which typically are arranged by family members, who want to help their relative face the impacts of their addiction. A professional addiction interventionist can help to break through the denial, which is so often a feature of active addiction. Counselling sessions and outpatient programmes are available too – but these would only be advised in cases where the crack cocaine use was at a fairly low level. Our experience at UKAT is that residential treatment is more effective, when it comes to breaking the cycle of crack cocaine addiction.
Find out more about cocaine addiction, including the causes, the signs and symptoms, withdrawal symptoms and treatment. For confidential advice from UKAT on treatment options, call 0808 223 0368 or use the live chat or callback function on our website.

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