Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Crack cocaine is a form of cocaine that is made by mixing powdered cocaine with water and either baking soda or another weakly basic substance such as ammonia. The mixture is boiled and then broken into chunks (rocks) that are smoked. The effects are intense but short-lived, and users can quickly become physically and psychologically dependent on crack. 1

People who are dependent on crack and stop using may experience withdrawal symptoms, which can differ from person to person. Many people will re-initiate or continue to use crack to relieve the symptoms. In some cases, symptoms begin within hours of halting crack use, while other people may not exhibit symptoms for a few days.

The first phase of treatment for crack cocaine withdrawal and addiction is detoxification, which can take place in a variety of different settings. Detoxification occurs as the body rids itself of crack and adapts back to normal functioning. After detox, people recovering from crack addiction should get involved in some type of rehab or recovery program to further deal with cravings and prevent relapse.

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs

Crack withdrawal causes many symptoms. Fatigue, appetite increase, irritability and strong cravings are generally the least severe of the symptoms. Depression, paranoia, and even suicidal thoughts are some of the more dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can occur as a result of an addiction to crack cocaine.

Crack cocaine withdrawal does not usually have serious physical symptoms. But the mental symptoms, such as cravings and depression, can be hard to manage alone. Seeking help for crack cocaine withdrawal can help prevent relapse and provide medical and psychiatric care for any difficult symptoms that arise.

How Long Does Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

The crack cocaine withdrawal timeline typically unfolds in phases or stages.

  • The first stage, the “crash,” starts from anywhere between a few hours and a few days after the last dose of the drug.
  • The next stage, “withdrawal,” lasts anywhere from 1-10 weeks.
  • The final stage, “extinction,” can last up to 28 weeks. 4,5

The total length of withdrawal depends on the person and how heavily they used crack.

Detox & Rehab for Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine withdrawal does not usually have serious physical symptoms. But the mental symptoms, such as cravings and depression, can be hard to manage alone. Many people who try to detox cold turkey end up relapsing, which can lead to overdose, depression, and suicidal thoughts.  Seeking help for crack cocaine withdrawal can help prevent relapse and provide medical and psychiatric care for any difficult symptoms that arise.

Treatment programs for crack withdrawal include detox centers, inpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. These programs offer varying levels of supervision and medical care. For example, detox centers and inpatient programs offer 24/7 monitoring from medical and treatment staff.

Once detoxification is complete, long-term recovery from crack addiction can begin. Addiction treatment can be done on an inpatient or outpatient basis depending on how serious the addiction is and whether the person has struggled to maintain sobriety in the past.

Crack use can lead to both physical and psychological addiction, so many different methods of treatment are used to help the user recover. Some of the common treatment methods used in crack cocaine addiction treatment include:

  • Motivational interviewing – designed to inspire the addicted person to seek treatment and to be an active partner in his or her recovery from crack cocaine addiction.
  • Motivational incentives – involves offering rewards to encourage the recovering user to stick to the treatment program.
  • Individual counseling – a cornerstone of many successful treatment programs that helps the person investigate why the addiction began and resolve any underlying emotional or psychological issues.
  • Group counseling – used to provide support and feedback while discussing the factors involved in addiction and recovery.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy – used to teach techniques that the recovering person can use when faced with a choice to use or abstain from the drug.
  • Family counseling – can be an important factor in preventing relapse, since it teaches family members how to support the user’s recovery in a healthy way.

In some cases, a treatment center may also offer holistic treatment options, which can include art therapy, animal therapy, yoga, or meditation.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Crack Cocaine?

Detoxifying from crack cocaine can take anywhere from several hours to a few days. However, some of the symptoms, including cravings and depression, can last for weeks or months.

Crack Cocaine Information at a Glance
Form, Intake, and Dose Interactions and Complications
Drug Forms: white or off-white crack rocks 1
Administration Routes: smoked; can be crushed and smoked in a glass pipe or smoked with tobacco or marijuana 3
Overdose: death from crack cocaine overdose is common 2
Overdose symptoms: agitation, hallucinations, increased body temperature, irregular heart rhythm, heart attack, seizure, stroke 3,6
Alcohol Interaction: mixing crack cocaine with alcohol creates cocaethylene in the body, which is more toxic than cocaine itself 5
Illicit Drugs: mixing crack cocaine with illicit drugs such as heroin increases the risk of overdose and death 6
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
Short-Term: increased euphoria, alertness, excitation, increased pulse and blood pressure, insomnia, loss of appetite 3
Long-Term: intensified heartbeat, sweating, chronically dilated pupils, depression, irritability, insomnia, paranoia, delirium, hallucinations, muscle spasms, chest pain, psychosis, tactile hallucination (e.g., formication, Magnon’s syndrome, or “cocaine bugs”), difficulty with problem solving, poor attention and concentration, heart damage, overdose, death 3
Risk of Substance Abuse: High
Signs of Abuse: obsessive behavior, secrecy surrounding drug use, a great deal of time spent trying to get the drug, strong craving or urge to use crack cocaine
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: Symptoms may take effect within hours or days after the last dose. These symptoms may last up to 28 weeks. 4
Withdrawal Symptoms: fatigue, anxiety, erratic sleep, strong cravings, irritability, depression, poor concentration, dysphoria, sporadic cravings 4
Tolerance: heavy use can lead to tolerance to the euphoric effects 3
Physical Dependence: High 1
Psychological Dependence: High 1
Legal Schedules and Ratings
Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule II 1

 

[1]. National Drug Intelligence Center, U.S. Department of Justice. (2003). Crack Cocaine Fast Facts.

[2]. Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration. (2015). Cocaine Withdrawal.

[3]. Morton, W. (1999). Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms. The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 1(4): 109-113.

[4]. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). The cocaine withdrawal syndrome.

[5]. Rassool, G. (2011). Addiction for Nurses. John Wiley & Sons.

Crack Cocaine Information at a Glance Sources

[1]. National Drug Intelligence Center. (2006). Crack Cocaine Fast Facts.

[2]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2017). Overdose Death Rates.

[3]. Abadinsky, H. (2010). Drug use and abuse: A comprehensive introduction. Nelson Education.

[4]. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). The cocaine withdrawal syndrome.

[5]. DrugBank. (2016). Cocaine.

[6]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Cocaine.