EFFECTS OF CRACK ADDICTION ON THE BRAIN AND BODY
As a stimulant drug, crack highs result from a sudden, dramatic increase in brain activity brought on by inhaling crack smoke. Crack is known to increase production of substances in the brain called neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that your brain uses to trigger your reactions to stimuli. The main neurotransmitters associated with crack use are serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Serotonin is responsible for regulating moods and sleep patterns — in the presence of crack, the serotonin spike can make you more reactive to emotions or situations. Norepinephrine is important in adrenaline production, which raises your heart rate and provides a sharp burst of energy. And dopamine is usually credited with boosting rewards pathways, which means it controls the highly addictive sensations of pleasure and euphoria.
This combination of effects leads to a short, intense high characterized by drastic mood swings, erratic behavior and high energy. The spike in dopamine, combined with the sudden drop after the high wears off, makes crack the kind of drug that users crave as they try to recreate or maintain those feelings of euphoria. Over time, your body builds up a tolerance to crack so that you need to use more to feel the same high; this becomes physically harmful as the continued rushes of adrenaline take a toll on your heart and blood vessels. Eventually, you grow dependent on the drug to feel happy or energetic at all. This dependence and the resulting compulsive desire to abuse crack is where addiction enters the picture.