Crack cocaine is a very powerful and addictive drug, and with addictive drugs comes the issue of withdrawal. 

With 9.6 million Americans saying they have used crack cocaine in their lifetime, crack withdrawal is a widespread problem in the States. 

So what exactly is crack withdrawal, and how is best to manage it?

It may sound daunting, but crack cocaine withdrawal can be managed, and recovery from crack addiction can be achieved. 

What Causes Crack Cocaine Withdrawal?

If someone has developed an addiction to crack cocaine, their body has become dependent on it.

Crack cocaine addiction can affect the brain and the nervous system, so if the crack is withdrawn, the body can go into a state of shock.

On a psychological level, a crack addict is used to being highly stimulated. Adjusting to a normal, unstimulated state, can be quite difficult to manage. 

This process is called withdrawal and can make the crack cocaine addict feel very ill. 

Because crack is a particularly potent form of cocaine, crack withdrawal can be quite intense and unpleasant. 

The sensation of feeling ill while withdrawing from crack can make it difficult to break the addiction. The sufferer knows that just taking some more crack will make them feel “normal” again.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

As with all addictions, crack addiction can affect people differently. 

Some people experience more severe symptoms than others, and subsequently, crack withdrawal can be harder for some people to deal with than others.

Withdrawal symptoms can be both physical and psychological. These are some of the physical symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal:

  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Aches and pains

The psychological symptoms of crack withdrawal can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Aggression

Factors such as how long someone has been using crack, what dosage they were taking, their metabolism, general health, and weight can all affect how they experience withdrawal. However, it is not always easy to predict who will get severe symptoms and who will be only mildly affected.

A general rule is that the more severe the addiction, the more severe the withdrawal. So if someone spent most of their time high on crack, their withdrawal symptoms will be more intense. 

The Duration of Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms can occur very soon after the person has stopped taking the drug. Symptoms usually start at about the time the user would have expected the next dose.

Because the high that the user experiences from crack cocaine is particularly intense, compared with other drugs, the withdrawal can also kick-in more quickly. 

How long the symptoms last can vary according to some of the factors already mentioned, such as level of addiction and physical profile. 

Physical symptoms of crack withdrawal typically last between 1 – 3 months. The psychological symptoms can be harder to measure and can go on for longer.

Withdrawal Timeline

The crack cocaine withdrawal process is made up of two stages: acute withdrawal, and post-acute withdrawal.

The acute stage is when most of the physical symptoms are experienced. This stage tends to last about a week. 

After that is the post-acute withdrawal stage when the symptoms are largely psychological.

The following is a guide to what a typical crack cocaine withdrawal timeline might look like:

Within 72 hours

Within the first three days of crack withdrawal, a person can expect to feel some quite intense symptoms. The initial come-down from the high can be quite sudden and unpleasant, and for some users could be the first time they have not been high in quite some time. 

Some of the least pleasant physical symptoms can occur in this first stage including vomiting, diarrhea and even hallucinations. 

The psychological symptoms in this first 72 hours can also be severe and include paranoia, panic, and anxiety.

It is important that if the withdrawal is planned, the person is not alone in this initial withdrawal period. 

1 – 2 Weeks

The intense physical symptoms can wear off after a week. This can leave the person fatigued and lacking energy. 

Physical symptoms can include exhaustion, sweating and interrupted sleep. The craving for more crack cocaine can increase in this period.

After one or two weeks of withdrawal, the person can start to feel depressed, irritable and aggressive. These symptoms tend to occur alongside the cravings for more crack.

One Month

After the first couple of weeks of withdrawal, the user will enter the post-acute stage when many of the physical symptoms will have subsided.

However, some of the psychological symptoms may persist. These could include irritability, depression and uncontrollable mood swings. 

In most cases the symptoms will completely subside between 1 – 3 months, however, psychological effects may occasionally last much longer. This can depend on the person’s previous state of mental health and outside factors that may affect their daily life. 

Detoxing From Crack Cocaine on Your Own

It is not generally advised that anyone should manage their crack cocaine withdrawal completely on their own.

This is because many of the symptoms, especially in the acute withdrawal stage, can be quite debilitating. If a person is experiencing severe vomiting, hallucinations, and anxiety, they are possibly not safe to be left on their own.

It is recommended that if a withdrawal from crack cocaine is planned, it is best to seek professional support. 

Medical Detox for Crack Cocaine

Crack cocaine addiction treatment entails a medically managed detox program. 

How Medical Detox Works

The aim of medical detox is mainly to:

  • Reduce suffering
  • Ensure physical safety
  • Reduce the risk of relapse

While on a medical detox program, a team of trained healthcare professionals will monitor the person going through withdrawal. Regular checks will be made by a doctor.

During the acute withdrawal stage, it is important that the patient does not get dehydrated due to vomiting and diarrhea. It is unlikely that the patient will have much of an appetite, so they could become weakened. 

Medications Available for Crack Cocaine Detox

Medications are not always necessary for crack cocaine withdrawal. However, in more severe cases, medications such as beta-blockers and anticonvulsants may be needed in the acute stage. 

Cravings can sometimes be managed by medications such as amantadine and bromocriptine. 

Seeking Help for Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

If you or a loved one think you may need help with the symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

The sooner that you receive professional help, the sooner you can start living a healthy life free of crack cocaine.