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Crack Withdrawal

Crack is a highly addictive form of the stimulant drug cocaine, which is processed and sold as rock crystal.1 People who use crack heat the crystals and then inhale the smoke or vapor, which produces a fast-acting, pleasurable high.1

When people try to quit using crack cocaine, it can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that may affect a person’s mood and physical body.1

If you or a loved one are struggling with crack addiction and want to stop, this article will help you understand more about how to quit safely and what to expect during withdrawal.

What Causes Withdrawal from Crack?

Crack cocaine produces particularly fast-acting, pleasurable effects; however, they are short-lived. Without the drug, people often begin to feel a range of withdrawal symptoms that can be very unpleasant.1

When a person repeatedly uses crack, their brain gets used to the dopamine rush that occurs with each dose. Over time, they become less sensitive to the effects of crack leading them to take more of the drug and more frequently to feel the “high” and avoid withdrawal symptoms.1 This often leads to a cycle of binging or using crack repeatedly in a short period of time.1

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

The effects of crack cocaine happen almost immediately but typically last for just a few minutes. Following a brief “high,” people can begin to feel withdrawal symptoms. Crack withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the person; however, the most common symptoms include:1, 2, 3

  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Slow thinking.
  • Headache.
  • Cravings.

Risks of Withdrawal

Crack withdrawal symptoms are not typically life-threatening like they can be for other substances, but they can be difficult to deal with alone. The potential for harming oneself is the greatest risk people encounter when withdrawing from stimulants like crack cocaine.2 The risks of crack withdrawal make it important to seek support when quitting crack cocaine or other drugs. Other risks associated with crack withdrawal include:2, 3

  • Depression. People going through crack withdrawal can experience severe depression. There is an increased risk of suicide when someone is unable to stop using alone.
  • Cravings and relapse. The physical symptoms of crack withdrawal are often relatively mild, but a person in withdrawal often experiences intense cravings for crack. A rapid return to crack use can increase the risk of an overdose because a person’s body isn’t used to the substance in their system.5
  • Cardiac complications. Some people in detox experience heart problems related to their drug use.3

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

Many people who use crack cocaine can start feeling withdrawal symptoms within a few hours to days.2 The onset and duration of crack withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on:2

  • How long a person has been using crack.
  • How much crack a person uses.
  • If a person is coming off a binge.
  • Use of other substances like alcohol or prescription opioids.

People who are coming off a crack cocaine binge may experience a “crash” soon after stopping use. This acute withdrawal phase is characterized by depression, anxiety, and agitation.2

Acute crack withdrawal symptoms typically begin to subside after a few days.2 However, in some people the symptoms can last longer depending on how they used cocaine (injected, smoked, or snorted).2 Some people may experience symptoms like fatigue and depression depending on the severity of their substance use and how long they used.2

How to Safely Detox from Crack Cocaine

Detoxification involves the management of withdrawal symptoms from crack or other drugs.3 While some people may try to detox alone, supervised detox at an inpatient or outpatient facility ensures a person’s safety and can help facilitate a more comfortable experience.

Detox is typically the first stage of treatment and helps people prepare for further addiction treatment.6 However, detox alone is not typically enough treatment for a person to maintain long-term abstinence and recovery.6

People can go through the detox process in a variety of settings and intensity levels, depending on a person’s needs. Before entering detox, it’s important for people to be evaluated to receive the appropriate level of care during detox.3

Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction

If you or a loved one have tried quitting crack and has struggled with crack withdrawal, getting treatment may help you set a solid foundation for long-term recovery. Finding a treatment that meets your medical, psychological, social, and vocational needs is found to be the most effective form of treatment.6 Types of recovery programs can include:

  • Inpatient treatment is where a person lives in the facility during treatment. People receive 24-hour supervision and depending on the facility and their needs, medical staff may be available around the clock to provide care.
  • Partial hospitalization is a type of outpatient treatment where people come to the facility to receive treatment but go home at night. Some of these programs are designed to function as a step-down from an inpatient program or a more intensive outpatient program.
  • Outpatient programs vary in intensity and may include detox, therapy, drug counseling, case management, medication management, and vocational training.
  • Behavioral therapy is one of the primary methods of treating stimulant use disorders. Cognitive behavioral therapy and contingency management are two common forms of therapy used in treating stimulant use disorders.2
  • Co-occurring disorders are best addressed at the same time as substance use disorders to potentially increase a person’s chances of successful, long-term recovery.2

Are There Medications for Crack Withdrawal?

There are no Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications to treat crack withdrawal.2 However, medications for pain, sleep issues, or co-occurring mental health conditions may be used during treatment but should be monitored by your physician.2 Research continues on the effectiveness of other pharmacological treatments for cocaine addiction.4

The thought of going through crack cocaine withdrawal can feel daunting but you don’t have to try and do it alone. There are numerous addiction resources like the caring people at American Addiction Centers who are ready to take your call 24 hours a day. They can explain treatment options and help you understand the cost of treatment, as well as checking your insurance coverage. If you’re ready to take the next step toward recovery, contact us for free today at .