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Quitting Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine that is processed into solid rock crystals that can then be smoked.1 Smoking crack produces a brief but intense euphoria and a surge in energy, which is followed by a crash and a strong urge to use more.1

It is a highly addictive substance, which people often binge use to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal and maintain their reinforcing high.1 Due to crack’s addictive qualities and the way it affects the reward center of the brain, people often struggle with quitting crack.1 Safely quitting with the support of addiction treatment can be an important start on the road to recovery.

Benefits of Quitting Crack

Crack cocaine can potentially cause several short- and long-term health effects that impact the brain and the body.1 A few of these adverse effects can include paranoia, erratic behavior, seizures, weight loss, lung disease (if inhaled), and heart problems.2

Quitting crack can offer a person numerous benefits including:

  • Better physical health. Quitting crack and receiving addiction treatment may help to stop some of the negative health effects of using crack.
  • Improved nutrition. Crack decreases appetite, leaving many users malnourished, dehydrated, and underweight. Quitting crack can provide an opportunity to nourish the body and treat any health-related complications.2
  • Enhanced mental health. Long-term crack cocaine use can lead to irritability, anxiety, and depression.2 In some cases, people struggling with crack use may even experience extreme paranoia and hallucinations.2 Quitting crack and seeking treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders may be helpful in addressing substance misuse at the same time as one’s mental health.3 Research has shown that treatment which addresses both substance use and mental health disorders may be more effective than treating each disorder separately.3

Is it Dangerous to Quit Crack “Cold Turkey”?

Quitting crack cocaine cold turkey means that a person suddenly stops using the substance completely. While some people may try to do this on their own, quitting crack cocaine is best done with the support of treatment professionals. For people with co-occurring disorders, this may be especially important to address additional needs during detox and withdrawal.4

Supervised detoxification can help you with quitting cocaine in a safe, managed environment. Typically, inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities offer some type of detox services depending on the level of care needed. These services can offer support to help make the detox process safer and more comfortable.

Some challenges a person may encounter if they try to quit crack cold turkey are:

  • Medical complications. In most cases quitting crack cold turkey is not dangerous; however, some people can experience medical complications.5 Symptoms such as headaches, chest pains, irregular heart rate, and seizures should be taken seriously. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately.
  • Cravings can lead to the temptation to use again. Quitting crack cold turkey could lead to strong cravings that may put a person at a higher risk of relapse.6 Cravings often accompany withdrawal symptoms and can lead a person to begin using again.6 This may create a cycle of failed attempts to quit.
  • Risk of depression and suicide. Some people who misuse crack cocaine experience depression during withdrawal.5 In some cases, depression can become severe enough to bring about suicidal thoughts.5 If you experience thoughts of suicide, seek assistance from a professional or call 911 immediately. Seeking medically supervised detox and/or treatment can minimize medical and psychological complications and reduce the chances of a relapse.

Tips for Quitting Crack Cocaine

Quitting a highly addictive drug such as crack can be difficult. If you have tried quitting or are considering quitting crack, it’s important to reach out for help. As you continue your recovery, the following tips may help you to stay away from using crack again:

  • Reach out for help. Find a local therapist, attend support groups, talk to your doctor, or contact a treatment facility. Building a support network of people who understand your struggle can also help with quitting crack and staying sober.
  • Avoid triggering situations and people, especially early in recovery. It is challenging for many people to leave their former lifestyles and develop new friendships and hobbies. Exposing yourself to triggering situations, such as friends you used drugs with, may increase the chance of a relapse.
  • Create new, healthy habits. Part of the recovery process involves developing new habits to create structure and to increase confidence and accountability. For example, you might consider developing a morning ritual that includes making your bed, practicing gratitude, and meditating. Working with your treatment team and therapist may help you identify new habits to practice during recovery.
  • Create a relapse prevention plan. This plan can be created with your treatment team and include a list of coping skills to use if you feel triggered or have a strong craving. You can also create a list of trusted contacts to reach out to when you feel triggered to use crack.

Withdrawal Symptoms When Quitting Crack

Some people who have been misusing crack may experience physical symptoms associated with quitting crack.5 Typically, these withdrawal symptoms subside within a few days.5 However, people who use crack in larger doses and for longer periods of time, or with a history of medical or mental health problems, may experience more severe symptoms.5

People can also relapse due to the psychological symptoms of crack withdrawal, which can be harder to manage than the physical symptoms.5

Crack withdrawal can result in one or more of the following symptoms:1, 5

  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Changes in appetite.
  • Disturbing dreams and insomnia.
  • Slower thinking.

Withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and may depend on several factors:5

  • Duration of drug use.
  • Amount used.
  • Age.
  • Overall physical health.
  • Nutrition.
  • Polysubstance use.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions.

If you or someone you know is experiencing chest pain, irregular heart rate, or seizures, seek medical attention immediately.

Severe depression and suicidal thoughts also may occur during crack withdrawal. It is important to call 911 if you have thoughts of harming yourself or others.

Crack Addiction Treatment and Rehab Centers

Addiction treatment centers are widely available to help people quit using drugs and alcohol and build a healthy life in recovery.

Depending on the level of care a person needs and the substance being misused, inpatient/residential and outpatient treatment is available. Inpatient or residential treatment involves a person staying at the treatment facility for the duration of treatment. Outpatient treatment allows a person to visit the facility on a regular basis to receive treatment.

Services, amenities, and costs vary depending on the facility, and often include:

  • Medical treatment. Many treatment centers, particularly inpatient facilities, are staffed with doctors and medical staff who can conduct a thorough evaluation and treat any medical issues.
  • Co-occurring disorders. Many people with stimulant use disorder have a co-occurring mental health condition that needs to be treated.5 For people with co-occurring disorders, facilities that treat substance use and mental health disorders at the same time may be more effective.3
  • Medication management. There are no FDA-approved medications for treating cocaine withdrawal. However, people with co-occurring disorders or physical conditions may require supervision when taking medication.
  • Relapse prevention. Some people who try to quit on their own find it difficult to stay sober as cravings increase. Treatment centers teach ways to handle triggers and cravings to help prevent relapse.
  • Aftercare or continuing care planning may be offered by the treatment facility to help people make a structured plan for life after formal treatment. It includes various forms of continued support depending on a person’s needs like therapy, mutual support groups, or step-down care.
  • Detox services are typically offered at inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities at varying intensity levels.
  • Individual and/or group counseling sessions. Behavioral therapies are a common and often effective form of treatment for people with stimulant use disorders like crack cocaine addiction.7

Choosing to get help for crack addiction is a brave step toward a healthier life. American Addiction Centers is here to help by calling any time day or night. Our compassionate team of navigators is available to listen to your story, help you find options for treatment, and even check your insurance at our facilities. The below form is free and confidential.