Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug derived from the cocoa plant. Crack, also known as crack cocaine, is a crystallized form of cocaine. Crack contains cocaine that has been processed with baking soda or ammonia to produce rock formations and is often laced with other substances such as caffeine, sugar, bulking agents or other drugs. Crack rocks can appear clear, white, off-white, pink or yellow depending on which additives they contain. The chemical makeup of cocaine and crack cocaine is nearly identical to one another, and both forms deliver very similar physical effects. While cocaine can be snorted, injected or ingested, crack is usually smoked. Smoking crack allows the drug to enter the body quickly, producing pleasurable, euphoric feelings.
Due to its rapid, powerful effects, crack has a high potential for abuse and addiction. Crack use is common, with 3.4% of individuals aged 12 and over reporting crack use during their lifetime. When crack is used regularly, the body adjusts to operating with the drug. This adjustment results in physical and psychological crack dependence and may lead to addiction over time. When an individual dependent on crack abruptly stops using the drug, severe withdrawal symptoms occur as the body adjusts to functioning without the drug.
Although crack dependence and addiction are challenging to overcome, a comprehensive crack withdrawal and detox program can lead to full recovery. Understanding the crack withdrawal and detox process can help individuals know what to expect as they prepare to stop using this dangerous drug.
Individuals who regularly use crack quickly develop a tolerance to the drug and need higher and higher doses over time to achieve the desired physical effects. Crack’s high typically lasts about 15 minutes, and so frequent, repeated use is commonly needed to sustain euphoric feelings.
Crack also interacts with the brain’s system of reward and punishment and causes physical dependence with prolonged use. This physical dependence occurs when the brain’s reward circuit adapts to higher levels of crack-induced dopamine, a brain chemical that produces pleasurable feelings.
Once physical dependence develops, unpleasant, often severe crack withdrawal symptoms occur when crack use is suddenly stopped. Some people continue using crack over long periods to avoid the adverse side effects of withdrawal.
Crack Withdrawal Symptoms
Physical crack dependence can occur quickly, and abruptly stopping use is not advised due to severe crack withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur as the body and brain adjust to functioning without crack’s stimulant effects. Individuals preparing to stop crack use should seek the assistance of a professional crack detox program, which provides the necessary resources to monitor and manage crack withdrawal symptoms successfully.
Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms include both physical and behavioral signs such as:
- Irritability and mood swings
- Excessive fatigue
- Severe cravings for crack
- Slowed thinking
- Increased appetite
- Vivid dreams
- General discomfort or feeling unwell
In some situations, serious psychotic symptoms such as paranoia, severe agitation and hallucinations may occur during withdrawal from stimulant drugs such as crack. These symptoms may lead to aggressive behavior, self-harm or harm to others. Close monitoring is often needed to minimize the risk of suicide during crack withdrawal. However, severe side effects can be effectively controlled using prescription antipsychotic medications. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed to cope with symptoms.
How Long Does Crack Withdrawal Last?
Individuals preparing for detox may wonder, how long do crack withdrawal symptoms last? Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after the final use of stimulants such as crack and last up to 3-5 days. Withdrawal generally occurs in two distinct phases. Acute crack withdrawal produces immediate symptoms such as cravings, irritability and slowed thinking. Protracted withdrawal symptoms, also called post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), may last for weeks or months and include depression, anxiety and memory problems. Prolonged withdrawal symptoms are more common with heavy, long-term crack use.
The duration of crack withdrawal symptoms differs from person to person and depends on many factors, including:
- Frequency, dose, and length of crack use
- Use of other drugs or alcohol
- Individuals biological factors such as age, physical size, genetics and metabolism
- Underlying medical conditions or mental health problems
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline
Crack cocaine withdrawal timelines vary between individuals and can be challenging to predict, as many factors impact how quickly the body metabolizes and eliminates the drug. The quantity and length of drug use also affect crack withdrawal symptom timelines, with higher doses or more persistent use leading to more severe or lengthy withdrawal symptoms.
Once crack use is stopped, an initial crash occurs immediately as drug levels begin to drop within the body. During this period, individuals may experience tiredness, irritability, increased hunger and cravings. During the following days, more severe symptoms such as anxiety, extreme fatigue, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems set in. In severe cases, aggression, paranoia or suicidal thoughts can become severe during this time.
After the first week, withdrawal symptoms generally begin to subside, although cognitive issues, anxiety, and depression may persist for weeks or months in some individuals. Since everyone is unique, it is important not to compare crack withdrawal timelines between individuals.
Crack Detox in Orlando
Many individuals do not know what to expect when preparing for crack withdrawal and detox. A professional crack detox program can provide information, support and supervision to help successfully guide each person through the complex withdrawal process. Due to the possible severity of crack withdrawal symptoms and the risk of relapse, detox can be very challenging without the support of a professional program. In rare cases, psychosis, aggression or suicide can occur during crack withdrawal. Thus, a professional facility is recommended when preparing for crack detox.
Crack detox varies between individuals and facilities but usually includes close medical monitoring, supportive medications, counseling, therapy and support groups. Specialized medical detox centers possess skilled, experienced medical staff and therapists that create a withdrawal and detox schedule that best fits each individual. In general, a medical team first assesses the patient through physical and psychological exams before formulating a tailored detox plan.
Treatment plans depend on each person’s medical history and previous crack use history. The medical team then supervise the withdrawal process, gradually decrease the crack dosage so the body and brain can acclimate to functioning without the drug. Medications or other supportive procedures are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Professional detox centers can also address co-occurring mental health conditions and polysubstance abuse.
Selecting a crack detox center for crack withdrawal can be difficult. However, finding the best fit is essential for completing detox and attaining long-term recovery. Several considerations should be weighed when choosing a detox facility, including:
- Ability to develop a customized detox program
- Presence of a qualified and experienced medical staff
- Location close to home, or at a distance if a ‘fresh start’ is needed
- Availability of therapists, support groups and wellness programs
- Proven accreditation and licensure
- Use of evidence-based recovery treatment practices
- Treatment choices for co-occurring mental health conditions and polysubstance abuse
- Accessibility of aftercare support programs
If you or a loved one are struggling with crack addiction, contact Orlando Recovery Center to speak with a representative who can help you explore crack detox programs in Orlando. You deserve a future free from addiction; call today.
Center for Substance Abuse Research. “Crack Cocaine.” Updated October 29, 2013. Accessed December 27, 2019.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine.” Accessed December 27, 2019.
MedlinePlus. “Cocaine Withdrawal.” Updated December 2, 2019. Accessed December 27, 2019.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Manag[…]e in Closed Settings.” World Health Organization, 2009. Accessed December 27, 2019.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.