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Crack Withdrawal

Detox From Crack

The preliminary effects of a crack cocaine high are short-lived: 5 to 10 minutes. But chasing a high easily leads to addiction.

When quitting crack use, most people go through a process of withdrawal. Unlike the short duration of the high, crack withdrawal symptoms can be very long lasting. But what can you expect during a crack withdrawal? How long will it last? What helps soothe the symptoms? Find out more in the text below.


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When Does Crack Withdrawal Start?

After using crack cocaine regularly for days or week, physical dependence start When people have a physical dependence on crack, they experience symptoms of withdrawal if the drug is abruptly stopped. Withdrawal starts about 1-3 hours after the last use.

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Mood changes
  • Mental disturbances
  • Fatigue
  • Chest pain

1. Cravings are what drives us back to crack. It’s one of the most difficult symptoms of withdrawal you’ll have to go through. The cravings are a compulsion for the drug…and we feel them in the body and in the mind.

2. Depression is one of the most common symptoms of detox. Chronic users feel down and hopeless without the rush and energy from crack. Many people report feelings of loneliness and mourn the loss of the drug as if it were a loved one.

3. Mood alterations such as agitation, restlessness, irritability and hyperactivity appear as the recovery process takes place. The body is returning to normal, but the brain can’t understand the loss of chemicals, so it sends signals, which are manifested as unrest and aggression.

4. Mental disturbances can appear in some cases of crack withdrawal. For some people, crack withdrawal might lead to anxiety and psychosis. The anxiety comes at the stage when users feel they cannot live without crack, while those who develop psychosis can experience visual and auditory hallucinations.

5. Fatigue sets in as a response to the strong stimulation of the drug. Once the drug starts to leave the system, you can feel sluggish, exhausted, and have a constant need for sleep. Sleep and rest help to get through withdrawal, so it’s somewhat a positive thing.

6. Chest pain is resembled by a phenomenon called “broken heart syndrome”. It’s an expected bodily reaction to stress, and is only temporary. A stress hormone is released when crack use is stopped, causing cardiomyopathy.

Crack Withdrawal Timing

Withdrawal symptoms are closely related to the duration of crack use and the dosages used. Generally, symptoms only last for about a week or two, but they may persist for months in severe cases. Intense cravings typically persists long after the other withdrawal symptoms have dissipated and may increase when a crack addict experiences stress.

Heavy crack users may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome or PAWS. Post-acute withdrawal occurs because the brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As the brain improves, the levels of brain chemicals fluctuate, causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms. PAWS usually appear within 3-6 months after cessation of crack, and the symptoms include:

  • Concentration difficulties
  • Disturbances in sleeping patterns
  • Energy ups and downs
  • Low enthusiasm
  • Mood swings

Coping With Crack Withdrawal

To get through withdrawal, you have to wait out the body’s urge to resupply the chemicals from crack. Psychologically, you’ll need to learn ways to cope with stress and other life issues without turning to crack.

With the help of medical professionals at a crack detox clinic during the detoxification and withdrawal period, a user will have a better chance in quitting completely. Crack has a generally high relapse rate, so treatment programs often combine cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational therapy. Support groups such as Cocaine/Crack Anonymous (CA) are 12-step programs that offer understanding and help users share their experiences and stories with others who can relate.

No medication has proven effective in treating crack withdrawal symptoms and no medication is FDA labeled for the treatment of crack addiction. Although medications including antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-seizure medications have been tested, they haven’t demonstrated any consistent effectiveness.

Crack Withdrawal Questions

Understanding what people who abuse crack experience once they begin their recovery can help them through the worst part of their withdrawal. The help and support from the closest friends and family is important. So, explore more of our articles to get a better understanding and get answers.

We also welcome you to post your questions and comments in the section below. We try to provide all legitimate inquiries with a prompt and personal answer.

Reference Sources: NHTSA: Cocaine
U.S. GAO: The Crack Cocaine Epidemic: Health Consequences and Treatment
MedlinePlus: Cocaine withdrawal

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