Prolonged crack use can cause alterations in brain activity that can lead to the development of a substance use disorder.
Addiction can develop shortly after using crack. Some people may even find themselves hooked after just one dose. The incredible high that it gives almost immediately after consuming it can cause intense cravings for the drug.
It is important to understand the changes that crack makes in the brain can be long-term and oftentimes even permanent. It is the changes to the brain that the drug causes that lead to crack addiction.
The Effects of Crack on the Brain
Use of crack and other similar stimulants can lead to changes in the brain that impact how a person seeks out pleasure and rewards. Studies have shown that prolonged use of crack can lead to changes in the neurons that release glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. More specifically, the amount of glutamate that is released changes over time with continued crack use.
Crack may also influence the brain pathways in response to stressors. Recovery setbacks are more likely to occur during times of stress than during any other period, as stress and drug use are associated with one another. More specifically, substance use disorders and stress disorders often co-occur with one another.
Animal studies have shown that lab rodents that were given crack repeatedly were more likely to seek out the drug, especially when they were exposed to stressful situations. The more crack they took, the more likely it was that stress influenced this behavior.
Chronic use of crack not only affects the reward area of the brain but other areas of the brain as well. For instance, the orbitofrontal cortex, a part of the brain associated with decision-making, has been shown to be negatively affected. When this part of the brain is impaired by drug use, the person may be more likely to make poor decisions, including continuing to seek out the drug.
People who have developed an addiction to crack have several treatment options to help them manage their substance use disorder.
Brain damage can happen even when crack is used only a handful of times. When use becomes chronic, brain damage can become irreversible. That is why it is important to get help for crack addiction right away before the effects of crack use on the brain become permanent. With the proper intervention and treatment programs, people with a substance use disorder involving crack can better manage their addiction and even reverse the negative effects that their drug use has had on the brain.
Medical intervention may be effective at reversing the brain changes that crack has caused and ultimately help reduce the cravings for crack among those who are addicted to it.
At The Recovery Village, we can help guide you to the right facility to help you manage your substance use disorder and regain control of your life. If you are living with an addiction, help is available. Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to learn about available treatment options.