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marketingGal 01-23-2005 08:49 AM

Signs of crack addiction?
Just found this board recently, and it is very informative. I'd like to ask anyone that would care to reply my questions.

I think a family member might be a crack user. I have been looking online for quite some time, but have only found vague references to what a user is like. I have heard from others that this person is using, mostly from other users. I have even gone as far as to ask a professional treatment couselor, his only advice was that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it is a duck. That dosen't help much.

Person is late 30's, refuses to find a job, beggs for money, always seems to have a valid excuse for needing money (backing it up with papers about utilities termination, ect.).

This problem seems to have gotten worse in the past year, however even sugesting treatment would be met with denial, anger, aggresstion possibly. They are not residing in my household, however I am concerned and want to do something. My choices are at this point to just avoid them or something else, although I don't know what that would be.

I am a hard working person, manage my affairs well, and although not affluent, this person see's me as such and thinks that I should help/loan/begs myself and other family members enough that we are all wondering what to do/how to proceed. I think the part that gets me the most is that they have even resorted to begging the senior citizens in my family.
Also no money management skills, and limited education. If they had 2K today, in two days it would probably be gone (I've seen it happen before).

I don't know signs of intoxication/what to look for when they are high/they are so irrational/strange everyday, it's hard to figure the norm anyhow.

I know nothing about the drug life/culture/despite living in a Afro American community where drugs/addicts are all around me. The family member and I lead totally different lifestyles, and I truly don't have a clue what crack is all about. I really think this person does have a problem, although they go to great extremes to appear to be living a normal life, in fact many outsiders think that things are just fine. I know they aren't, but I just don't know how to proceed.

Any sugesstions/information, referrals would be so greatly appreciated.

Ellecram 01-23-2005 10:39 AM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
How long has this person been acting this way? Is the behavior drastically different from what it used to be? What makes you think that the problem is specifically crack other than information from other users? Crack is a quick acting stimulant - the "high" does not last long and they must constantly seek more - that is generally why they are always looking for money - sometimes a sign is that the person is frequently looking to borrow smaller amounts of money - $30.00/$50.00 etc. - I had one guy call my ex boyfriend in the middle of the night (5 AM) claiming that he needed money to pay a magistrate for a traffic fine! - and could we please go to the ATM machine and get it for him....
- my experience in knowing other people having problems with crack is that it becomes extremely addictive very rapidly and they will resort to doing just about anything to get it - I have seen a mother drop her 6 year old child off at a total stranger's home in a housing project while she went on a crack run. So - I guess my experience is that their judgement goes out the window - impulsivity is a hallmark - but often the signs of crack use can mimic mental illness (i.e. - mania). As you stated - it is hard to know the norm based on everyday irrationality and strangeness! Does this person have a history of any other stimulant use? A person using stimulants will often exhibit signs of having a dry mouth - I knew one lady who ran her tongue over her lips non- stop when she was on a binge - another is rapid, disorganized speech - if they are actively using they will sometimes socially accepted standards of ignore hygiene and appear very unkempt - sometimes a person will have frequent small burns on their hands from mishandling the lighting of the crack pipe -
also - if they have no access to to the stimulant drug and depending on how much they are used to ingesting - they can crash for very long periods of time - often they will sleep for days when coming down from a run -
I hope this helps - this is not from a textbook - but things I have observed and experienced. - ELLE

sue371974 01-23-2005 12:01 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
It could be an addiction to various things and not necessarily crack - although, in my experience and from what I have seen I think that crack users will go to the most extremes to get money to get high. Extreme paranoia is one sign that someone is smoking crack...somebody said look for small burns on the persons fingers (burns from a crack pipe)...they can also have burns on their lips from the pipe getting so hot. People who I know who have been hooked on crack for fairly long periods of time get very skinny too, they have a sunken look to their eyes and face...their whole face is really skinny and they often have really dark circles around their eyes (although, some of this can also be a sign of heroin addiction).

One thing to remember, is that no matter what you do - unless this person wants help - there isn't anything that you can do to make him or her get help. It sounds to me, from what you have said, that the person is in denial.
I wish you the best of luck.


marketingGal 01-23-2005 12:13 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
Yes to some of the points made. Appearance has changed from what used to be an attempt to be fashionable to bad looking (walking around town in mashed down sneakers is an example). I have not checked for the appearance of burns, but I will in the future.

I seem to hear from them about every couple of weeks. A long rambling phone call. They come to my house, not enter, but if begging, will send the kid in to ask or during a phone call. I kind of think I am in denial to a certain extent. I should just go out to the car and observe their attitude at that time.

I know this person will not go any time soon to any suggested program or counseling. That would let everyone in on what they are doing, although judging from what many say, most folks know anyhow.

I have noticed a funny odor on them. I can't say that it is from drinking, something strange that I haven't quite smelled before, and I've been around drinkers.

They just seem irrational, erratic behaving, but then again the person in question has never been a pillar of stability. In fact has done just about everything in life backwards or wrong, despite strong, positive role models and community members all around talking to them and as trying to get them to do the right thing.

Ellecram 01-23-2005 12:58 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
Good idea to do a direct observation of their behavior/attitude/appearance next time - it could be you are in denial - everyone experiences that at some level - it is a normal response to a potentially devastating situation - the odor could be an indicator as well - I have smelled a metallic/chemical/odd odor at times around crack users - a smell I couldn't really put my finger on either - it seems like no one symptom/observation will give you a clear answer - when looked at together they point to a possible problem with crack -
I am wondering what your role is in this person's life? Close? Any chance of speaking with the person directly? Of course they will deny if confronted and it may not be in your best interest to do the confronting - as you probably know they will not seek any kind of treatment until they are ready and there is not a lot you can do - what do you want to do? Difficult situation - no clear answers.

marketingGal 01-23-2005 03:49 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
No chance of me speaking directly to the person. It would not change anything, and to a certain extent, the person is jealous of my sucess as a honest, hard working person. I've made every attempt to be close, help with job hunting, budgeting, they find my drive and ambition as pushy or that I expect too much out of them.

An intervention would only work if it came from another person not myself, perhaps another family member, and most of their friends aren't really friends enough to suggest them seeking treatment.

I find myself annoyed, concerned, ****** as I don't understand how anyone would not want to work, be productive or even engage in such a lifestyle.

And yes, the smell did smell rather the way it was described as chemical, odd, metallic.

I don't know what my next step will be. I've looked at websites describing addiction, I've even thought of mailing literature to them about users, I'm sure it would just be met with anger. I have heard for years that only when a person wants to change will they make the decision to change. This person at this point sees nothing wrong with their lifestyle.

Ellecram 01-23-2005 05:24 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
You are right that people will not make the changes until they are ready - no matter what you do. I have seem people make these changes and it is truly astounding. Even though such amazing turn arounds happen infrequently, they do happen - and there is always hope - and there is always the first step. So it will be up to you to decide what you will be most comfortable doing - everyone in the circle of an addict's life is affected and has to respond in the way that is best for them. You are right - they are probably jealous of and not attracted to your style of hard work and resent your help. Perhaps another family member or friend can intervene - although it seems as if this person will need to first discover that there is something wrong with the lifestyle they are living. I have learned to concentrate on safety - the actions I have taken with addicts in my life have not been so much directed at changing their lifestyle or getting them to admit they have a problem (although I would have welcomed those outcomes with a huge sigh of gratitude!!) - but to do whatever possible to keep that person and those around him/her safe - if only for a little while. I know that sounds somewhat pessimistic - but that has been my experience - to work on very small goals with very little expectation - both personally and professionally - I have expereince in both domains so I speak from the heart. I do wish you some peace with all of this - it sounds as if you are taking a responsible & concerned yet realistic attitude - my motto has always been ,"I do what I can."

marketingGal 01-23-2005 05:37 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
Thanks so much for the insight. I truly don't know what the next step will be. It seems to be more of a waiting game at this point than anything else.

I just find it so strange that a family member would ever choose such a lifestyle, even when many others in the family have done the same thing. I am also talking to the wife of my cousin, only she knows that her husband has a crack addiction. She has sought help/treatment for his addictions, also with little sucess at this point.

Both family members came from stable middle class lifestyles, both had parents that enabled these family members to continue to behave as kids, constantly getting them out of trouble. And now, both have parents that have passed away and the rest of us are getting tired of the foolishness. I have also witnessed more aggressive behavior/posturing/speach from both. Escalating addictions perhaps.

I am not sure of the outcome but I'll continue to hope for a change in this disturbing behavior.

Ellecram 01-23-2005 07:27 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
Please let me know how things are going - it can be so frustrating - now that parents are gone and these adult/kids continue to expect to be rescued - it seems like the burden of teaching them responsible behavior is left with you all - not fair.

Sarandipity 01-23-2005 09:35 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
Try Alanon, and maybe the overwheming feelings of having to be a detective will go away, because at Alanon- they talk about solution, and putting the responsiblity back on the person who may be using.

Love, and peace!

marketingGal 01-24-2005 03:42 AM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
I've never considered trying Alanon, perhaps I might in the future. I am married with a young daughter. My other half is gone a lot with his job, which almost makes me a single mother. It is
hard to have time for other activities (not an excuse, but a reality).

I do like the idea of placing the burden on the user, great talk for us, but this person has put on
a game face for so long, people really think that things are fine. Like going to visit the house, nothing would suggust otherwise, it's decent, kept up and clean. Things are not expensive, but with someone not working, you would not expect to see expensive items. It just seems that every couple of weeks
there seems to be a crisis, a need for cash immediately, and I know all too well in the back of my mind I suppose what's going on.

I don't feel up to the task of teaching an adult. My own life is lacking. I have personal projects that I need to get going on, and find the demands of a relative in a state of confusion add to my backing away from stuff that I need to start doing, in a nutshell, I've lost my creative spark. Or maybe it's the toddler that's taking it all away. Thanks y'all for some very honest opinoins. It's been a very enlightening weekend.

soldatos 01-31-2005 12:43 PM

Re: Signs of crack addiction?
did you ever notice burns or blisters on his lips, they are usually on the inside of the lips, white spots from where the pipe burned they're lips, sounds like he has a drug problem to me, but what drug I don't know, also an addict has to hit rock bottom on they're own, nobody can stop them, I overdosed and still went back to it after I had a heart spasm from the stuff, it's powerful and very sad, hope he quits, before he injures his body

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