Crack Cocaine Withdrawal | Symptoms, Timeline, & Detox

If you wish to recover from cocaine use disorder, you likely have to work through dependence and the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that can occur after you stop using.

Any form of cocaine use can be addictive and harmful. However, smoking crack cocaine is an especially risky form of drug abuse even when compared to using powdered cocaine.

Crack use is extremely addictive and can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.

If you wish to recover from cocaine use disorder, you likely have to work through dependence and the physical and mental withdrawal symptoms that can occur after you stop using.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

The physical and psychological symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal vary depending on:

  • your overall health
  • metabolism
  • the length of time you’ve been using crack cocaine
  • the amount you typically us
  • other mental health conditions or addictions you may have

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Short-term, acute symptoms of crack withdrawal can include:

  • drug cravings
  • feelings of anxiety
  • restlessness
  • exhaustion
  • vivid dreams
  • inability to concentrate
  • irritability
  • depressed mood

Symptoms Of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

Some, especially those who have used crack heavily, will also experience longer-lasting withdrawal effects known as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These symptoms may include:

  • recurring drug cravings
  • short-term memory problems
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • tremors
  • sleep disturbances
  • inability to feel pleasure during daily activities
  • continuing mood swings

Not everyone in recovery from crack addiction will experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, and they may not last long even if they do develop.

However, even if you experience long-lasting PAWS symptoms, it’s important to remember that they are not permanent and will likely fade with time and continued sober living.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Crack cocaine withdrawal effects can begin at any point from 30 minutes to 72 hours after your last dose. Withdrawal likely occurs sooner, and with more intensity, in more severe cases.

Days 1-3

The first days of acute withdrawal symptoms are likely the most intense. Individuals may experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms like paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, body aches, severe fatigue, irritability, restlessness, and intense cravings.

Hallucinations or psychosis may also occur, though these effects are rare and generally subside after one to three days.

Week 1

Symptoms of irritability, severe fatigue, sleep problems, and apathy will likely develop by the end of the first week if they haven’t developed within the first few days. Increased appetite and increased need for sleep are also common.

Week 2

Physical withdrawal symptoms may fade during the second week of detox.

However, those in detox should not lower their guard as drug cravings or compulsions may become even more intense, rising along with a strong sense of depression as the brain and central nervous system continue to rebalance. While rare, suicidal thoughts may occur at this stage.

Week 3+

While mood changes and other psychological symptoms, including intrusive or obsessive thoughts or drug dreams, may linger for up to six months, most physical symptoms of withdrawal should fade by the third week.

Withdrawal symptoms that last longer than 3 weeks are considered PAWs.

Medical Detox Programs For Crack Cocaine Addiction

Because of the potential severity of crack cocaine withdrawal and the high risk of relapse when going through withdrawal alone, individuals are advised to enroll in a medical detox program before they begin an addiction treatment program.

How Crack Detox Works

Detoxification, which can be conducted in either an outpatient or inpatient setting, allows participants to go through the different stages of withdrawal in a safe and supportive environment with the supervision of medical professionals.

Medication may also be prescribed to address some of the different side-effects of cocaine withdrawal like anxiety, sleeplessness, or high blood pressure.

It’s important to note that crack is not tapered down before being discontinued, as is common practice for certain other drugs like benzodiazepine anti-anxiety medications.

Participants must quit cold turkey and complete the detox/withdrawal process before their addiction recovery program can begin.

Treating Crack Cocaine Addiction

Currently there are no medications approved as treatment options by the FDA for crack cocaine addiction. Instead, inpatient or outpatient cocaine recovery programs rely on interventions and treatment options that may include:

These therapeutic options are designed to help individuals recognize negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to compulsive substance abuse and replace them with healthier and more affirming thoughts, behaviors, coping mechanisms, and support systems.

To find out if our treatment options are a good fit for yourself or a loved one, please contact Northeast Addictions Treatment Center today.

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