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Crack Cocaine Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, & Detox

Published on February 11, 2021
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, & Detox

Crack is a potent and smokable form of cocaine that produces rapid and intense effects, including a euphoric “high.” The euphoria wears off quickly when smoked, which can lead to frequent and heavy use. 

The body may crash after a heavy binge, which can result at the beginning of withdrawal symptoms. Crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms may last up to ten weeks but some people experience cravings and depression for months

If you think you or a loved one may be experiencing cocaine withdrawal, professional treatment can provide a supportive environment to recover. 

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Crack cocaine stimulates the reward system by preventing the brain from recycling dopamine (pleasure chemical). A buildup of dopamine causes intense euphoria, which reinforces crack use and can make you less sensitive to other rewarding behaviors. 

People may use crack in binges, which can increase tolerance and lead to chemical dependency. 

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

If you suddenly stop or slow down, you may experience a crash followed by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is different for everyone and may depend on how much you used, how often you used, and your physical and mental health

However, the following is a general timeline of symptoms that you may experience:

Stage 1: The Crash

A crash may be brought on after the body becomes overwhelmed from frequent use over several hours or days. With crack cocaine, the crash phase usually begins within hours after the last use and may last 3-4 days. 

You may feel anxious or agitated at first, followed by fatigue and symptoms of depression. Although you may feel exhausted, some people experience insomnia and have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

You may also experience these other symptoms during a cocaine crash:

  • feeling dissatisfied
  • intense cravings
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • low energy
  • restlessness
  • increased appetite
  • excessive sleepiness

Stage 2: Acute Withdrawal

After the initial crash phase, you may experience mild to severe symptoms of withdrawal. These symptoms usually peak within the first few days but can last up to ten weeks. In addition, some people may experience intense cravings and depression for weeks or months. 

Symptoms of crack cocaine withdrawal may include:

  • fatigue
  • depression
  • inability to feel pleasure
  • intense cravings
  • dulled senses
  • agitation
  • chills
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • mood swings
  • impaired memory
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • “cocaine dreams”, which are vivid dreams related to drug use

Although cocaine withdrawal doesn’t produce the same physical symptoms as opiates or alcohol, it can trigger symptoms of depression. Severe symptoms of depression may cause suicidal thoughts, which should be consulted with a medical professional. 

Crack Cocaine Detox

Detoxing on your own can be difficult but a medical detox can provide a personalized treatment plan, support, and medical supervision. If you think you or a loved one is addicted to crack cocaine, a detox may be an effective first step in treatment. 

The benefits of choosing a detox center to manage crack withdrawal symptoms include:

  • being removed from people and environments that may trigger you to use crack 
  • medical supervision to monitor your symptoms 
  • 24/7 supervision from supportive healthcare professionals
  • prepares you for the transition to a rehab center
  • medication to ease severe symptoms, if necessary

Crack Cocaine Addiction Treatment

After detoxing, you may choose to continue treatment with an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. A healthcare provider will develop a treatment plan and help you determine the best path for your individualized needs. 

Treatment options for crack cocaine addiction may include: 

Inpatient/Residential Treatment

Residential treatment is highly structured and provides 24/7 supervision. Depending on your treatment plan, you may have access to support groups, individual counseling, group therapy, and aftercare services. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs provide scheduled sessions that you attend at the treatment center. You may have access to family counseling, individual therapy, and wellness activities. 

Outpatient treatment is a good choice if you have strong support at home or have recently completed residential treatment. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Behavioral therapy is offered at most inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities. CBT is a specific type of behavioral therapy that helps you learn to identify thoughts and behaviors associated with compulsive drug use. 

Learning to identify negative patterns can help you learn to react in a healthier way. 

If you would like more information about treatment options, please contact Ark Behavioral Health to speak with an addiction specialist. 

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Australian Government Department Of Health - The Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome
National Center For Biotechnology Information - Common Drug Intoxication Signs and Withdrawal Symptoms
National Center For Biotechnology Information - Treatment For Stimulant Use Disorders
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Cocaine Withdrawal

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