Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Medications and Help
Crack cocaine is a hard, crystalline form of cocaine—often encountered as small white rocks on the street. Unlike powdered cocaine, which is more commonly snorted or dissolved into a solution to be injected, crack cocaine is smoked in a small glass pipe.1 Many people go through withdrawal when they stop using crack and have trouble overcoming the symptoms without professional help.
For many, professional detox is the first step in getting help for crack cocaine withdrawal. Once detox is successfully completed, the person should follow up with an additional treatment to ensure the best chance of sustained recovery. People who do not continue with treatment after detox have a high risk of resuming drug use.2
Crack cocaine withdrawal treatment options include detox centers, inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient. At present, no medications are approved to treat crack cocaine withdrawal. However, some medications that have shown promise in studies include baclofen and propranolol. Detoxing cold turkey at home can increase the risk of relapse.
Treatment Options for Crack Cocaine Withdrawal
There are several options to help people with crack cocaine withdrawal and addiction. Treatment generally includes supportive care to manage symptoms and teaching relapse prevention techniques to resist cravings.
- Detox centers, where a person goes for medical support while their body rids itself of crack cocaine. These facilities do not serve as comprehensive treatment for addiction, but they do provide around-the-clock medical care to usher individuals through the difficult withdrawal period.
- Inpatient treatment, a facility where someone resides 24/7 for medical and therapeutic assistance in withdrawal and recovery. Inpatient might be a good fit for someone who has relapsed, does not have a good home environment, or has been addicted for a long time. Luxury and executive rehab centers offer high-end features such as internet workspaces, tennis, massage, and horseback riding and are often located in beautiful locales.
- Standard outpatient treatment, which involves going to a treatment center a few days a week for a few hours at a time. Outpatient is relatively less structured and more flexible than other forms of treatment. These programs may not provide detox or require you to be detoxed before you start treatment.
- Partial hospitalization, which allows a person to return home each day but still provides intensive and supportive treatment. This option involves a commitment of several days a week for several hours each day and acts as a step down from detox or inpatient treatment. Generally, these programs provide medical care.
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP), which offers treatment multiple days a week for a few hours each day. These programs may or may not provide medical support for withdrawal.
No crack cocaine withdrawal medications are currently approved. Antidepressants may be used to manage depression and anxiety symptoms. Medications that have proved effective in clinical trials include the following:
- Amantadine and bromocriptine, drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease and hormone problems, among others, may help to reduce cocaine cravings, increase energy, and normalize sleep. 3
- Propranolol, a beta-blocker, may be able to reduce the anxiety associated with cocaine withdrawal as well as cravings. 4
- Baclofen, a muscle relaxant, may help to reduce cravings in users during withdrawal. 4
Tapering Off Crack Cocaine
Unlike some other drugs, crack cocaine is not tapered down during detox. Attempting to taper off crack cocaine can lead to increased cravings or an overdose. There is no research to suggest that tapering off crack cocaine is a safe and effective method to treat crack cocaine withdrawal.
Detoxing Cold Turkey at Home
Although crack cocaine withdrawal is not immediately life-threatening, a person is at an increased risk of relapse and overdose without professional help. The cravings during withdrawal can be very powerful. 3 Detoxing at home can also lead to depression or exacerbate pre-existing mental or physical health conditions.
Crack cocaine withdrawal can be very unpleasant. It is not easy to predict the extent to which someone will experience symptoms such as high anxiety, lack of pleasure, agitation, and extreme paranoia.3
Detoxing in a treatment program offers the safest method of detox and provides the medical and psychological oversight needed to treat any physical or mental health symptoms.
. MedlinePlus. (2016). Cocaine.
. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Treatment approaches for drug addiction.
. MedlinePlus. (2016). Cocaine withdrawal.
. Kampman, K. M. (2005). New medications for the treatment of cocaine dependence. Psychiatry (Edgmont), 2(12), 44.