Crack Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox

Guide to Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

When it comes to addiction, crack cocaine is one of the most challenging drugs to overcome. Very few people can quit this drug on their own, and even those who do sometimes make mistakes that send them back into a full-blown addiction.

This is why it’s so important to have a solid plan before attempting to quit. If you’re trying to quit crack, you need to be prepared for a tough road ahead. This guide will provide you with information on withdrawing from crack cocaine and getting your life back on track.

Crack Withdrawal

What Is Crack Addiction?

Crack addiction is a physical and psychological dependence on crack cocaine. This drug works quickly to create feelings of euphoria in the user, which makes it very addictive. Once users become addicted to crack, they will often do anything to get their hands on the drug, including stealing or committing other crimes. This addiction can ruin lives, destroy families, and lead to death. It’s essential to get help as soon as possible if you’re struggling with a crack addiction.

What Is Crack Cocaine Withdrawal?

Crack cocaine is a more concentrated form of cocaine, which is highly addictive. Due to its potency, crack cocaine withdrawal can be more intense than withdrawal from other drugs. Crack often leads to changes in the brain and the nervous system. Whenever the addicted users cease using crack, their body has to adjust and relearn ways of functioning without crack in their system.

In the withdrawal process, the client will always encounter many deteriorating and uncomfortable signs and symptoms, like unpleasant dreams, agitation, restlessness, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, paranoia, and depression. Crack cocaine’s psychological and physical withdrawal signs and symptoms can differ significantly, depending on individual influences like the user’s addiction severity, addiction length, metabolism, tolerance, and underlying mental health problem or other forms of addiction.

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

Crack cocaine is quite addictive, both psychologically and physically. Due to the challenging nature of crack addiction, the withdrawal symptoms can be quite hard to navigate; hence, clients are usually advised to first detox in a rehabilitation center. Crack cocaine withdrawal can be divided into two phases: acute withdrawal, which entails the immediate signs and symptoms, and post-acute withdrawal signs and symptoms (PAWS), or protracted withdrawal, which entails the extended physiological and psychological symptoms that can manifest weeks or months after stopping crack use.

Here are some of the common acute crack withdrawal symptoms:

• Mood changes
• Irritability
• Concentration difficulties
• Unpleasant dreams
• Exhaustion
• Anxiety

PAWS symptoms are:

• Emotional or anger outbursts
• Inability to feel pleasure
• Lack of motivation
• Sleeping difficulties
• Cravings
• Shaking or agitation
• Anxiety
• Depression

Withdrawal Duration

The crack withdrawal timeline differs for every individual. It is based on many factors, such as the duration and severity of addiction, body tolerance, and user chemistry. Crack cocaine withdrawal can start anywhere from half an hour to three days after consuming the last final dose of cocaine.

The physical withdrawal symptoms often last from one to three months, but there isn’t a single timeframe for how long the signs and symptoms will persist. Any symptoms of withdrawal that persist for over three weeks are classified as PAWS. The psychological symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal, such as obsessive thoughts, drug dreams, and intense cravings, might stick around for longer. It has been reported that some psychological withdrawal symptoms last for over half a year.

In the first week of withdrawing from crack cocaine, users recover from the worst extreme physical signs and symptoms and might feel as if they are fully recovered. This can be dangerous as studies have shown that people tend to relax and be more exposed to relapse. Therefore, it is advised that you should seek detox services within a drug treatment center and possess a support system to rally you on during tough days and cravings. After completing the detoxing process, adhere to the guidelines of physicians and experts, which might entail joining an outpatient or inpatient rehabilitation program.

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

• 1-3 days: During the first three days of withdrawal, clients experience symptoms like body aches and paranoia. Rare bouts of hallucination can also accompany these symptoms. Cravings, irritability, severe fatigue, insomnia, and anxiety might set in on the first day of withdrawal. Paranoia and hallucinations often subside after this period.

• 7 days: In the first week after crack cocaine withdrawal, other symptoms like lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, extreme fatigue, and irritability manifest.

• 14 days: After about two weeks, crack cravings set in alongside depression. At this stage, your brain is still reacting to the withdrawal process, and typically it won’t produce ample dopamine for positive feelings. You may also experience feelings of anxiety during this stage.

• 3-4 weeks: During this time, the chemistry of the body is changing, and mood swings are common. Despite feelings of craving for crack having slowed down at this juncture, you will experience physical cravings throughout the first three to four weeks. You will probably also experience depression and anxiety.

Crack Detox

Health care professionals at drug treatment centers develop detox measures based on the user’s medical history and unique body makeup. As compared to other drugs and substances, including medications for anxiety, crack is not tapered down during detoxification. Users stop using crack cold turkey with the help of medical experts and medicines to counter the adverse symptoms of withdrawal.

The following drugs are often prescribed for various reasons during crack detox:

• Vistaril – Anxiety
• Seroquel – Sleep
• Vigabatrin – Anxiety
• Trazodone – Sleep
• Propranolol – Anxiety
• Gabapentin – Insomnia, anxiety, restless leg syndrome, and seizures
• Clonidine – Anxiety and high blood pressure

The crack cocaine detox process is an essential first step in overcoming addiction to this potent stimulant. Detoxing from crack cocaine on your own is not only dangerous but also deadly. Therefore, it is crucial to find a drug treatment center that can help you through the process.

After detoxing from crack cocaine, seek professional help to avoid relapse. Relapse rates for crack cocaine are high, and without proper treatment and support, it is difficult to maintain sobriety.

After completing a detox program, one of the most important things to do is to seek professional help to reduce your risk of relapse. There are many different treatment programs available, and finding the right one for you can make a big difference in your recovery.

Crack Treatment Options

Crack cocaine addicts have a better chance of recovering while detoxing at a treatment center. Physicians and therapists provide treatment programs personalized to each individual’s needs. These programs employ different therapeutic techniques, like dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT), support groups, process groups, psychoeducational groups, and individual therapy.

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT): DBT is a cognitive-behavioral treatment that helps clients understand and change their negative thinking and behaviors. This is done by teaching clients how to identify and cope with their emotions. DBT is used during crack cocaine withdrawal to help clients deal with the intense emotions that they are feeling. It also helps clients develop a better understanding of themselves and their addiction. Hence, it is a critical component of many crack treatment programs.

• Motivational interviewing: Motivational interviewing is a collaborative approach that involves the therapist and client working together to identify and resolve any issues contributing to a client’s drug use. This therapy can help clients develop the motivation to stay sober and overcome their addiction. It is vital during the crack cocaine withdrawal process to help clients stick to their treatment plan and avoid relapse. Also, it can help clients develop a better understanding of their addiction and its causes.

Cognitive-behavioral treatment (CBT): CBT helps clients identify their negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more positive ones. This can help clients deal with the intense cravings they experience during crack cocaine withdrawal and avoid relapse. Also, CBT can help clients develop a better understanding of their addiction and its causes. Therefore, it is an integral part of many crack treatment programs.

• Support groups: Support groups are a crucial part of recovery for many addicts. They provide a safe, supportive environment where clients can connect with others who have faced similar struggles. This gives them the emotional and social support they need to stay sober. There are many different support groups available, and finding the right one for you can make a big difference in your recovery. You can get them in treatment centers, online, or in your community.

• Process groups: Process groups are similar to support groups, but they focus on the here and now rather than long-term recovery. They help clients work through their recovery at the moment instead of focusing on the past or future. This can be helpful during crack cocaine withdrawal, as clients can work through their cravings and emotions at the moment. A therapist or counselor often leads process groups, which can be a crucial part of treatment. Recovering crack users often need to work through their thoughts and emotions in real-time, so process groups can be very beneficial.

• Psycho-educational groups: These groups provide an educational component to treatment. They teach clients about the causes of their addiction, managing cravings, and other related topics. This can help clients understand their addiction and develop the skills to stay sober. A therapist or counselor often leads psycho-educational groups, which can be crucial for treatment. Those dealing with crack cocaine withdrawal often find that they need to learn about their addiction and manage it.

Individual therapy: Individual therapy is another important part of treatment for crack addiction. In individual therapy, clients work one-on-one with a therapist or counselor to identify and resolve any issues contributing to their crack use. Individual therapy can help clients develop the tools to stay sober and avoid relapse. It is often used with other treatment modalities, such as group therapy or support groups.

• Family therapy: Family therapy is an essential aspect of treatment for many drug users as it can help them get the support and understanding they need from their loved ones. This can be crucial during the crack cocaine withdrawal process when clients face intense emotions and cravings. Family therapy involves family members working with a therapist or counselor to resolve any issues contributing to the client’s addiction. This can help the family heal from the damage crack addiction has caused and work together to support the client in recovery.

• Relapse prevention: Relapse is a common concern for recovering addicts. Studies have shown that relapse rates are highest in the first year of recovery, so clients must develop good relapse prevention strategies during treatment. Clients learn about the triggers and warning signs of relapse and how to avoid them. They also learn how to cope with cravings and urges to stay sober even if they do occur. Relapse prevention is an essential part of treatment, and it can help clients stay on track in recovery.

Inpatient rehabilitation centers: This option is often recommended for clients struggling with a severe addiction. Inpatient rehab centers provide around-the-clock care and supervision, which can benefit those going through the withdrawal process. Clients are in an environment where they cannot use drugs, and therapists and counselors are available 24/7 to provide support. This can be a good option for those who need a high level of care to overcome addiction.

Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment is another option for those struggling with crack addiction. In outpatient treatment, clients receive care during the day and return home in the evening. This can be a good option for those with a strong support system at home who need more flexible treatment. Outpatient treatment can also be less expensive than inpatient treatment.

All these treatment options work better if you can commit to them. Some people are not ready for a treatment program, however. The clients must recognize their problems with their addiction and want to address them. If they are not ready, all the treatment in the world will be ineffective.

Crack withdrawal is not easy, but several treatment options can help clients overcome their addiction. Some of the withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating, but with the help of a professional, clients can get through it. It is thus vital to seek professional help when dealing with crack addiction.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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