Cocaine part 3 — the addict’s experience

While cocaine is still sometimes snorted in its powder form as it was in the 1980s and early ’90s, this type of use is very expensive and rarely seen these days. Usually, a crack rock is smoked in an improvised pipe. These pipes are often glass tubes that are heated with a butane lighter. Convenience store sales of miniature roses in glass tubes were frequently the source for cocaine pipes.

Crack cocaine is sometimes sold as a loose rock, but is usually packaged in a torn-off corner of a plastic baggie. The torn end of the baggie is gathered and tied in a knot. So, common signs of drug paraphernalia for a cocaine addict would be an improvised glass pipe with soot marks and perhaps empty baggie corner wrappers.

Crack cocaine, when smoked, produces an intense but short high. Cocaine is a stimulant, so it produces alertness, euphoria and an increased heart rate. It is followed by an intense depression, aggression, restlessness and anxiety. Other side effects can include nervousness, paranoia, and seizures, as well as permanent heart damage.

Because the high is of relatively short duration, crack cocaine addicts might seek a $20 crack rock multiple times per day. The search for the $20 can result in panhandling, scams or shoplifting for re-saleable items.

Crack cocaine is powerfully addicting, but seems less addicting than methamphetamine, heroin or opioid pills. Successful treatment for cocaine addiction still requires a long period of active treatment and a lifetime of awareness and abstinence on the part of the addict.

Dave Clark is the district attorney general of the 7th District of Tennessee – serving Anderson County.