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What Is Crack Withdrawal?
Crack withdrawal occurs as the body’s reaction when a person stops smoking crack for a period of time.
A person using crack will develop both a physical and psychological dependency on the drug. In many cases, a person using crack can become addicted quickly because of how fast the drug works.
Due to crack’s potency, crack withdrawals are typically more intense than withdrawals from cocaine.
While uncomfortable, crack withdrawal is a temporary condition as your body re-balances its natural chemistry.
What Causes Crack Withdrawal?
When a person becomes dependent on crack, their body has become used to having a steady amount of it in their system.
If they suddenly stop using crack, the body will experience withdrawals as it struggles to adjust to its absence.
Common Crack Withdrawal Symptoms
Common symptoms of crack withdrawal affect both the mind and body, depending on the individual.
The mental effects range from minor issues like irritability to severe threats like suicidal thoughts or attempts. The physical effects of crack withdrawal can include nerve pain, muscle aches, and other problems.
Some of the common crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Profound dysphoria (i.e., uneasiness)
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Extreme fatigue
- Disrupted sleep patterns (i.e., hypersomnia or insomnia)
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings
- Increased appetite
- Nerve pain
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty with motor function (e.g., talking, walking, etc.)
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
The Crack Withdrawal Timeline
The start of the crack cocaine withdrawal timeline varies from user to user, depending on genetics, metabolism, and overall health.
Most people will begin to experience crack withdrawal symptoms 30 minutes to 72 hours after the last use.
During withdrawal, short-term symptoms usually stop after several days of quitting drug use. Other times, withdrawal symptoms last for 3 to 4 weeks. Again, the timeline will depend on the individual user.
Often, someone who has participated in crack cocaine abuse is sleep deprived, so they may need extra rest and large meals to recover for the first 24 to 36 hours.
At first, the former user will likely experience headaches and irritability, so loved ones can offer support by minimizing loud noises and staying patient when possible.
How to Safely Withdraw From Crack
A person may experience significant stimulant withdrawal due to crack addiction.
Some detox patients can experience cardiac complications, seizures, or bleeding in/around the brain. High-risk cases of stimulant abuse may need the support of medical professionals through a treatment program or hospitalization.
If you or a loved one has abused crack and has decided to quit, speak to your doctor or a medical professional about your detoxification treatment options. Many treatment programs include tapering and medical detox, even at an outpatient level.
While no FDA-approved medication is available for easing crack withdrawal symptoms, doctors may prescribe some medications (like disulfiram and naltrexone) to help alleviate cravings.
Research indicates that cravings are one of the most uncomfortable symptoms of crack withdrawal. By having medications that lessen the cravings’ intensity, the patient is more likely to continue to avoid relapsing and complete the detox process.
Addiction specialists do not recommend quitting crack “cold turkey.” Instead, consult a health professional for the detoxification process.
Usually, physical symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal are not life-threatening. However, medical detox is often recommended due to the high likelihood of relapse.
Medical detox is available at both the inpatient and outpatient levels.
The psychological symptoms that result from crack detox (e.g., depression or dysphoria) can lead to suicidal thoughts and attempts. Also, people who have abused crack cocaine can experience dopamine abnormalities.
Medical detox provides patients peace of mind through medical advice and intervention so they can safely get through the crack withdrawal process and avoid relapse.
Follow-Up Crack Addiction Treatment Options
The battle against crack addiction often requires ongoing, repeated treatment. The challenges against abstaining come from the drug’s high potential for addiction.
There are no specific medications proven to succeed in stimulant withdrawal.
However, the patient may receive an antidepressant, sleep aid, or other medication to support the related effects of the treatment process.
The medications a doctor prescribes to the person recovering from a crack addiction will depend entirely on the person’s health.
In general, outpatient addiction treatment ranges from approaches that include short-term hospitalization to intensive outpatient treatments. Intensive outpatient treatment has proven to work well as a detox process for crack use.
At the outpatient treatment center, the person who has participated in drug abuse will undergo behavioral therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
While undergoing this treatment process, the patient can avoid situational crack cravings and those cravings for other substances.
Get Help for Crack Withdrawal Symptoms
If you or your loved one is battling crack abuse or addiction and has decided to stop crack use, consult a medical professional to help start the process. Help is always available, and recovery is within reach.
Crack Withdrawal FAQs
Are crack withdrawals dangerous?
Yes, crack withdrawals are dangerous because of the associated physiological and psychological side effects. Someone who has used crack can experience healthcare concerns like heart complications, severe depression, or suicidal thoughts.
How long does crack withdrawal last?
Usually, short-term crack withdrawal symptoms stop after several days of abstained drug use. Sometimes, withdrawal symptoms can last 3 to 4 weeks.
Can I die from crack withdrawal?
While crack withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, other underlying physical and mental health conditions can lead to medical complications. Seek a medical professional’s help before withdrawing from crack cocaine.
What are the symptoms of crack withdrawal?
Common symptoms of crack withdrawal include depression, extreme fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, increased appetite, and suicidal thoughts or attempts.
How severe is crack withdrawal?
The severity of crack withdrawal depends on many factors, including the crack user’s metabolism, overall health condition, and mental illness. Generally, crack withdrawal is less severe than opioid or alcohol withdrawal.