ARTICLE OVERVIEW:Crack is a highly addictive derivative of cocaine with dangerous health consequences. Withdrawal is tough, but not impossible. Your body and brain are going to need time to resume their natural chemistry. This article reviews what crack withdrawal is like, offers a basic timeline of withdrawal symptoms, and describes what happens during the process.
When you smoke crack, instead of recycling dopamine, cocaine causes large amount of dopamine to pile up. For a short time you will feel high, yet cravings can start even within minutes after the last take. The brain will seek out more because crack is so effective (but short-lived).
The short answer is: yes, crack withdrawal is hard.
Crack causes both physical and psychological dependence. And sometimes, withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult to handle. See the list of symptoms below. Mostly, symptoms are the opposite of how you feel when high. You feel fatigued, depressed, and really low.
Plus, withdrawal can be intense. The severity of withdrawal is directly related to:
The total amount of time you’ve been using.
Your overall mental state.
For example, somebody who needs more crack to get high and has been using it for years will experience a harder withdrawal than someone who’s only been using it for a few weeks and takes it in small doses.
Also, during your first weeks of crack detox, you will be at the highest risk of relapse. Detoxing is a very intensive and uncomfortable process. You must be psychologically ready to overcome its difficulties. This is why medical detox can help.
Anyone going through crack withdrawal can benefit from medical help.
Crack withdrawal is different for everyone. You may not feel all the symptoms mentioned in the list below. Plus, your symptoms will not be at the same intensity level as others. Addiction is a very personal experience, manifesting in everyone differently. Thus, each of us reacts differently to withdrawal.
Withdrawal symptoms are caused by drug dependence. However, in the case of crack, withdrawal does not necessarily need time to build up: withdrawal can occur as you’re coming down off the drug. Crack is a drug that makes people feel energetic, euphoric and full of grandeur delusions, so the crash can be a distressing, low state of mind.
The following symptoms can be expected during crack withdrawal:
Aggression and violent incidents
Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure)
Depression and a lack of motivation
Exhaustion and fatigue
Feelings of paranoia
Irritability and restlessness
Psychosis, hallucinations and other mental disturbances
The following timeline provides you a general idea of what to expect when you want to quit crack for good.
0-72 Hours. This is the most uncomfortable stage, the so-called the “crash” period. Your withdrawal symptoms will peak. Your body will go through major adjustments while restructuring its chemistry. It’s important to surround yourself by a team of medical professionals during this period.
Week 1-2. During this period, your brain must adjust to a drug-free chemistry. People who use large amounts of cocaine may experience psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, disordered thoughts and hallucinations. You might feel extremely distressed and agitated or be a risk of harming yourself or others. These symptoms can be managed using anti-psychotic medications and will usually resolve within a week of quitting cocaine.
Usually, strong crack cravings begin during this time, as well. Psychotherapies are necessary in order to reduce cravings and better understand your behavioral patterns. Talk therapy helps you develop a new lifestyle without the need for coke.
Week 3-4. This period is commonly known as the “honeymoon phase”. You may begin to notice that your cravings are reduced and your mood is improved. The low feelings brought on by the initial withdrawal symptoms are no longer present. Instead, once again you might feel energetic and confident with a strong sensation to go back into normal life and make anew of yourself.
These medications may have simply a placebo effect. The last item on this list is the TA-CD vaccine, shows promise, though. It stimulates production of cocaine-specific antibodies and prevents cocaine from entering the brain. In this way, the TA-CD vaccine may stop cocaine euphoric and reinforcing effects.
Even though no approved medication are in use, you should always consult a medical professional during detox. Short term prescription use of antidepressants can help. Additionally, you may need anti-psychotic medication. Additionally, symptomatic relief can be provided to address withdrawal symptoms as they occur. In fact, a medical detox can help provide more than medications…a good detox clinic will provide mental and emotional support.
Natural Remedies that Help
There are a number of natural remedies people use to ease withdrawal and prevent relapse. These include:
Distractions.Developing distractions is essential during recovery in order to keep your mind occupied. You’re going to need to form new habits in order to break old ones. This can be anything from writing regularly in a journal to painting or to just listening to music.
Where to Go For Help
In order to find help, you must first want it. By admitting you’re defeated, you’re allowing something new to happen. Then you’re on the path to seeking medical help.
Social workers (Your State’s Department of Health and Social Services)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline – 1-800-622-HELP (4357)
You’ll also want to reach out to family and friends. As you go about your recovery, you’re going to be in need of a support system. The people you can always reach out to when things get difficult. Furthermore, even after treatment when recovery is still ongoing, you’ll have people there when need be. If you’re a family member or friend of someone who’s addicted to crack there are a variety of options for you to seek help for your loved one.
Or, you can give us a call. We’re always happy to help. The telephone number listed on this page will connect you to a helpline answered by American Addiction Centers (AAC). The helpline is offered at no cost and with no obligation to enter detox or addiction treatment. We can help discuss your treatment options, which can include detox. So, if you are ready to get help, reach out and pick up the phone.
Do you have a better idea of what to expect during withdrawal?
Still have questions?
If you have any further questions pertaining to crack withdrawal, we invite you to ask them below. If you have any advice to give for people currently going through withdrawal, we’d also love to hear from you. We try to provide a personal response to each comment and get back to your promptly.