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How Crack Cocaine Works


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#1 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:51 AM

How Crack Cocaine Works
by Stephanie Watson
How Stuff Works

This is a very no-BS article on crack. I came across it researching something else and read it because it grabbed my attention.

In my experience, everything in it is straight-up, except for the explanation of cravings. That part was just too fragmented to be useful to an addict seeking recovery. In other words, it does not reflect what he feels when a craving attack comes on—the suddenness, the intensity, the thought patterns that automatically direct themselves to getting the drug, etc. Some other stuff got left out, too, like losing your teeth over time.

Other than that, I recommend this article as a solid introduction for those interested in what crack is. It also provides some very useful links.

(As to you clever sneaky junkies out there, don't think I am not aware of the fact that this article can improve your recipe for cooking up crack. I see you clearly. But when it is time to give it up, you have to give it ALL up, with no doubts about anything—like something you might not have tried because you didn't know. You give it ALL up and know what you are giving up, otherwise you will relapse. So this information will actually help you in the long run.)

One part tickled me:

Researchers have found that cocaine-addicted monkeys will press a bar more than 12,000 times to get a single dose of it. As soon as they get it, they will start pressing the bar for more.

I found it funny because of the different discussions I have had with Objectivists and libertarians who claim that addiction is not at all physical or a disease. Szasz proves it! So does Rand (by insinuation)!

Thus, all we have to do is get those addicted monkeys to read Szasz and Rand and all their problems are over.

:)

To repeat something I usually emphasize, addiction is a combination of several components, not just one thing. Some components are physical and others are mental. Addiction is both a disease and a problem of volition and will power. All the different components differ in degree of intensity depending on the addiction and on the addict. There is no one size fits all recovery treatment except abstinence. When abstinence is not an act, that is no problem and it is automatic. When abstinence is an act (a conscious choice at any given moment) as a reaction to something (like a sudden craving), it has no single prompt.

Treatment needs to be geared towards breaking down and identifying where the problems are in an individual, then addressing each aspect with a specific procedure. This may or may not include drug treatments, depending on the problem.

Anyway, the article is up there. Use it if you need it. Even if you don't need it, it's a good read. Knowledge is power.

Michael

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#2 general semanticist

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 08:02 AM

Treatment needs to be geared towards breaking down and identifying where the problems are in an individual, then addressing each aspect with a specific procedure. This may or may not include drug treatments, depending on the problem.

I would add that the process of "identifying where the problems are in an individual" really amounts to making the unconscious conscious. I think the notion of 'will power' is largely ineffective and simplistic when it comes to addiction and/or obsessive behaviour. I believe that at the root of addiction are false beliefs, beliefs that it's ok to continue using for whatever reason, and until you truly make this conscious it will continue to work sub-consciously. Relying on "will power" is ignoring the underlying mechanism and so is prone to failure. I believe the process of curing addiction involves making new neural connections, "rewiring" the brain, and beliefs may be regarded as a certain neural configuration in the brain.
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#3 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:28 PM

GS,

So... you think the addicted monkeys are deluded by false beliefs?

:)

(btw - Will power is definitely part of the mix. Please note the word "mix." There is no one size fits all and there is no single cure by focusing on one aspect only, not even the new neural pathways you mentioned, which reminds me greatly of the Scientology method of treatment—one of the few good things to come out of that nasty cult. I know what I am talking about. I gave up crack after 5 years of addiction to it.)

Michael

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#4 general semanticist

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 02:48 PM

GS,

So... you think the addicted monkeys are deluded by false beliefs?

:)

(btw - Will power is definitely part of the mix. Please note the word "mix." There is no one size fits all and there is no single cure by focusing on one aspect only, not even the new neural pathways you mentioned, which reminds me greatly of the Scientology method of treatment—one of the few good things to come out of that nasty cult. I know what I am talking about. I gave up crack after 5 years of addiction to it.)

Michael

For sure there are physical effects independent of beliefs but I was referring to the treatment after detox and withdrawal. It's one thing to quit, it's another to not start again. The monkeys were never operating under some belief that it was OK to start taking crack in the first place. :)
'Always' and 'Never' are two words you should always remember never to use. :-)

#5 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 07:24 PM

GS,

That's the right approach, but it is a bit more complicated than that. Look at the results of any treatment for proof. Most of the good ones have similar statistics.

Michael

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#6 daunce lynam

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:30 PM

I did not read this article but am interested because our mayor has been accused of smoking crack, others say it was crystal meth (??) . He is very fat however, do you not get very thin when you use those substances? He also drinks. I know this sounds facetious but I would actually like to know any opinions. Thanks.

 

Carol

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#7 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:50 PM

Carol,

 

It takes time for the skinny stage to appear in some people because they offset the growth of the crack habit with other substances, but weight loss always eventually appears if a heart-attack or something fatal does not come first.

 

The meth habit is practically identical with crack. I used crystal meth a little in Brazil, but only found out that I did later. I thought of it at the time as some weird kind of crack. It was new back then. But it got me just as high. :smile:

 

Michael 


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#8 daunce lynam

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:54 PM

Thanks Michael.  What is the time frame do you know? I do not wish any bad on Ford, truly, and though I believe he did indeed smoke something out of a pipe (and it is proven that his close associates are drug dealers) I would not say he is addicted. he is just a terrible mayor and a complete dumbhead.



#9 daunce lynam

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:59 PM

Actually it reminds me of the old Bob Newhart show - "\Larry and my brother Darryl and my other brother Darryl" 



#10 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:05 PM

Carol,

 

Time frame? It depends on when he hits critical mass with the habit. Critical mass is when he starts getting high on crack every day, with very sporadic exceptions (if at all).

 

I once knew a stunningly beautiful Italian woman in the combat zone in São Paulo. She helped me buy crack at times. But I saw her hit critical mass. She disappeared. I thought she had moved on. About eight months later I saw her in the street and almost didn't recognize her. She was missing 4 or 5 upper teeth in the front of her mouth, wild-eyed, skinny like a scarecrow. She looked like an old hag out of a Dickens story.

 

Thinking of her reminded me that I once heard someone refer to Narcotics Anonymous as a beauty salon. People would show up grungy, bedraggled and befuddled. After a few meetings without using, they would suddenly arrive sporting a haircut, wearing clean pressed clothes, and so on. The contrasts were always impressive, at least to me. 

 

Michael


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#11 daunce lynam

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:15 PM

You used the right word, it is Dickensian.  What a vicious drug.  Though I can't stand Rob Ford I do hope he is not in its grip. \he weighs 350 pounds and has his brother (the ex-hash dealer) as handler, so all may yet be well.



#12 jts

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 08:49 PM

Star Trek TNG: Drug Addiction 

 



#13 Anya

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 02:06 PM

To repeat something I usually emphasize, addiction is a combination of several components, not just one thing.

Szasz never denied that chemical manipulation could cause withdrawal syndromes and a high positive association. The point is that smoking crack, like riding a bike, is intentional behavior. It is not a 'disease', it is a problem of coping with stress generated by chemical habituation.



#14 Michael Stuart Kelly

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 05:38 PM

The point is that smoking crack, like riding a bike, is intentional behavior. It is not a 'disease', it is a problem of coping with stress generated by chemical habituation.

 

Anya,

 

Normally I would not answer a poorly informed comment this, but this section is often read by people trying to overcome addiction.

 

So to the addict: Not all behavior is intentional. The human being comes with a whole slew of automated behaviors. That means you, too. Add this to the fact that emotion must precede behavior if behavior and the thinking behind it can be rational. Does that sound weird? Off? Bizarre? Well it isn't. 

 

Rational in this context means that the decision to act is connected to the reality of your surroundings. This seems like a contradiction because emotion versus cognition is a popular dichotomy (as if the two were enemies). Granted, they can work against each other, but that does not mean they always do. And that does not mean both are not needed in the human animal (like you). They are.

 

This creates an opening for literally losing control of your mind.

 

If you look into the literature of lobotomies, you will discover that when the emotional connections are severed from the prefrontal neocortex, many patients have become calmer and seemingly acted rationally, but their value judgments went right out the window. For example, they would become paralyzed over what food to select from a menu. They just couldn't decide.

 

Or if they were sitting on a train track and saw a train coming and were asked what would happen if they didn't move, they said the train would kill them, but this was not enough to impel them to get up off the track. They would literally watch the train until it ran them over. (I am paraphrasing an actual case I read about, and if I remember correctly, no train actually ran over a lobotomized patient, i.e., there were other controls, but I don't remember the details.)

 

Would anyone call that rational? Would anyone call that intentional behavior?

 

Heh.

 

I'm not a big fan of Szasz and, from what I can tell, his track record for helping addicts is abysmal. So if you are addicted and reading this while looking for a way out, you will probably not do well by denying your addiction and claiming it is a "fake disease" or something like that. What you experience is real, it is deadly, and don't let anyone tell you different. I know. I've been there. It was awful, but I beat it. You can, too.

 

Here's reality. If you don't get help and stop, and if the addiction progresses in intensity, which it almost always does, your end point will be prison, literal insanity or the grave. Those are your alternatives. There are no others. And not prison from anti-drug laws, instead prison from doing some stupid shit to get money to buy the drug or just plain old from being high.

 

Back to Anya: I will say I appreciate Szasz's fight against medical and psychiatric tyranny, but that is merely political. He did fight the good fight and I fully support his efforts in that realm. Government plus mind control is not a good recipe under any circumstance  But he was a total disaster in dealing with addiction on a clinical basis.

 

Oh, I'm sure he helped some people since addiction is not one oversimplified generality universal to all addicts in all details, but instead many different things. So people open to acting based on his kind of denial would be helped. I know I'm glad I never encountered Sazsz's work while I was still active. I would probably be dead if I did, knowing I was "justified" in my addiction.

 

Besides, Szasz's main interest in addicts was on the autopsy table. That's just great if you're an addict. Just great. Go to a dude like that for help and see where you end up.

 

If people need emotions plus cognition to make rational decisions, and not just cognition alone, then if they totally corrupt their emotional faculty through crack use, their behavior will become irrational. Craving is a form of pain once it reaches a certain point of intensity. People in high levels of pain act differently than people feeling no pain.

 

But wait. There's more! (Sorry, my marketing muscle twitched. :smile: )

 

There will even be times when they get high on autopilot and not even realize it--like the drunk who blacks out and drives home without any memory of it later. I speak from experience (of both). Many times, in fact.

 

I'm sorry this doesn't fit with your theory, but reality often does not work as neatly as theories do. You are entitled to your opinion, though. It's just meaningless for people like me who have lived what you opine does not exist.

 

Michael


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