Crack Detox, Crack Withdrawal Symptoms, and Timeline

Author: NP Addiction Clinic
Published: October 25, 2022

Crack cocaine is an illicit and highly addictive stimulant drug that is widely used across the globe. Stimulant drugs, like crack, are a very common form of drug to abuse.

Many people use them in a social setting, such as at parties, in order to have energy for the whole night and to stay up later. Sometimes, however, the party doesn't stop when it is supposed to.

Some people that use a stimulant drug, such as crack, even once, will find that they are desperate to try the drug again. This can very easily lead to an addiction. If this stimulant addiction involves crack use, then there can be some very serious health consequences.

Below you will find information about crack, how damaging it can be to someone's life, and what to expect when you want to quit cocaine for good.

What is Crack?

What is Crack?

You have probably heard of cocaine. People generally tend to see it as a party drug. What you may know less about, is another form of cocaine, known as crack. Many people that have heard of the drug may not actually know that it is pharmaceutically identical to powdered cocaine.

What makes crack different from the powdered form is that to make it, a dealer will mix cocaine with a baking soda to remove the hydrochloride. This forms a crystal, or rock, that a user can smoke through a glass pipe, known as a crack pipe.

The United States Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) considers crack to be a schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs are those that are illegal and have a higher potential for abuse than Schedule III drugs, but a lower potential for abuse than Schedule I drugs.

Crack Abuse

As mentioned, crack is highly addictive. When someone smokes crack, as opposed to snorting it through the powdered form of cocaine, its effects are much more intense. This, coupled with the fact that a user will achieve the high from crack more quickly and that the high does not last as long, means that crack users are more likely to abuse this form of the drug than powder cocaine users.

Short Term Effects of crack

People abuse crack because of the intense euphoric high that it produces, as well as the high levels of energy that the user gets from crack use. These desired effects are also coupled with some other effects that occur through crack use.

These can include:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Increased energy
  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased aggression
  • Restlessness
  • Increased respiration
  • Uncharacteristic irresponsibility
  • Burned or cracked lips and fingers

Because of crack's intense and short-lived high, many users are unable to hide the fact that they are under the influence, unlike other drugs.

There are also some worrying side effects associated with crack use.

Side Effects of Crack Use

Crack users use the drug because of the intense high that they can achieve through smoking it. However, a user may develop worrying health consequences through their use of the drug.

For example, many people who smoke crack will have:

  • Increased risk of a heart attack while under the influence
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • "Crack lung" - when a user coughs up blood, has trouble breathing, and has fluid in the lungs
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Paranoia

With all of these potential consequences of smoking crack, you might wonder why anyone would ever use the drug, let alone keep on using it.

Well, the answer to that is the fact that addiction is not a choice, but a disease.

Understanding Crack Cocaine Addiction

Understanding Crack Cocaine Addiction

Being addicted to crack is not a choice, nor it is a character flaw. It is a disease. And, much like all diseases, it needs compassionate and well-researched treatment.

Therefore, we must collectively break the stigma about addiction and other mental health issues. In order to do this, we must change the way we see addiction, and how we treat those struggling with it.

Someone with an addiction is most likely already feeling ashamed and guilty for their behavior. This means that when approaching someone about their addiction, your approach must be compassionate, understanding, and supportive.

How, though, might you recognize that a loved one is struggling with an addiction?

Signs and Symptoms of a Crack Addiction

There are some common signs and symptoms of addiction, whether that involves crack cocaine or any other substance.

These can include:

  • Engaging in secretive or dishonest behavior
  • No longer attending social events with family or friends
  • Encountering financial or legal trouble
  • No longer upkeeping personal appearance or hygiene
  • Prioritizing a substance and not being able to function without using it
  • Suddenly changing social circles

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is important to get in contact with a medical professional. It could be that you are suffering from an addiction to crack cocaine. If this is the case, you don't need to worry. There is always a treatment provider ready to take you on board and help you put an end to your addiction.

Many people equate being physically dependent on a drug to an addiction to it. This is not necessarily the case. Someone can be addicted to a drug without experiencing physical dependence.

In the case of crack, it is possible to form both a physical dependence on it and also a tolerance to it.

So what, exactly, is dependence?

Crack Dependency

Physical dependence is when someone experiences withdrawal symptoms when they no longer use the drug. This means that they are likely to experience negative effects when quitting the drug.

Dependency, in some cases, can be dangerous. For example, when someone is quitting benzodiazepine drugs, it is extremely important that they go through a supervised detoxification program with a medical professional.

When ending your crack addiction, in order to minimize the symptoms of crack withdrawal, you should seek medical supervision. If you quit cold turkey, or very abruptly, then you may experience some negative effects that may contribute to a relapse.

Crack Withdrawal

Crack Withdrawal

Each drug will have its own set of withdrawal symptoms and each drug will have different time scales for how long these symptoms might go on. A crack addiction, in particular, has its own set of specific symptoms, along with a timeline in which an individual may experience those symptoms, which features below.

Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal

There are a whole host of psychological and physical symptoms associated with crack withdrawal. Some people that quit the drug won't experience withdrawal symptoms at all. Others will experience a handful of the crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Others may feel each and every symptom.

It is hard to know exactly who will experience what symptoms. However, the longer your addiction has been and the higher doses of the drug you take could mean that you are more likely to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms for longer periods of time.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the physical symptoms that you may experience from crack withdrawal include:

  • Shaking
  • Body aches
  • Severe fatigue and exhaustion

Generally, there are more psychological symptoms associated with crack withdrawal than there are physical symptoms.

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Some of the psychological crack withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Increased anxiety and depression
  • Trouble sleeping - including insomnia and unpleasant dreams
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Intense cravings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Unable to feel pleasure
  • Emotional outbursts - including anger

All of these crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms emerge at specific times throughout the withdrawal process. If your crack cocaine addiction involves the use of other drugs, or if it is a drug and alcohol addiction, then it is important to raise this with your health practitioner.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

As mentioned, crack withdrawal symptoms will manifest at different times during the withdrawal process. The first withdrawal symptoms of a crack addiction that will emerge are the acute withdrawal symptoms. The next stage of the withdrawal process is protracted withdrawal. Finally, some may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

Acute Withdrawal

Acute symptoms emerge within the first seventy-two hours of withdrawal. During this stage, users may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and irritability.

Often the uncomfortable symptoms of fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and cravings can set in during the first twenty-four hours. You may also experience flu-like symptoms.

Protracted Withdrawal

Protracted withdrawal symptoms are the symptoms that persist for longer than the acute symptoms. In this stage, other symptoms set in such as a lack of motivation, more intense cravings, and depression.

Sometimes this can be severe depression. If this is the case, it is important to speak to your medical health professional.

Generally, this stage should only last for three to four weeks. During this time, mood swings are frequent and extreme cravings may persist.

If your symptoms continue beyond this period, you may be experiencing post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This is nothing to worry about, it just means that your symptoms will last a little longer.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Many people that have been in the grasp of a crack addiction for a long period of time may experience PAWS. This is especially the case if you felt the need to take large amounts of crack to keep away withdrawal symptoms.

Do not worry, your symptoms will subside eventually. It could be months or even a year, but your health is not at risk and your symptoms will not last forever.

How to Detox from Crack

How to Detox from Crack

By deciding that you want to undergo crack detox, you have already made the biggest step. A crack cocaine detox, just like any other detox, can be a challenging thing, but once your heart is in it, you have the power to quit.

A crack detox will generally last from about seven days to two weeks long. This is dependent on how long you are dealing with the withdrawal symptoms highlighted above. The longer you are experiencing them, the longer your detox program will be.

Often, when going through a medically supervised detox, you will receive some behavioral therapy as part of your treatment. Medical professionals use therapy as a way to challenge patterns of behavior and thoughts that might reinforce your addiction or result in a relapse.

There are a wide variety of therapies available. From support groups to transcranial magnetic stimulation, you can negotiate what treatment suits you best. Currently, the most effective and widely used form of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT.

Sometimes, previously hidden conditions may need treatment, so this can also have an effect on the amount of time spent at a detox center.

There are also different styles through which a detox program may take place. These are through either an inpatient setting or an outpatient setting.

Inpatient or Outpatient Care

Inpatient detox programs involve a residential stay. This means that when you are recovering from the effects of crack addiction, treatment will take place at a treatment center for the whole duration of your withdrawal. Some individuals choose this form of treatment because it takes them away from the temptations and distractions that they may experience back at home.

An outpatient setting means that you will go through your crack cocaine withdrawal at home, but you will attend a treatment center daily. This form of addiction treatment means that you can get on with your daily life and responsibilities while undergoing treatment discreetly.

Quitting a drug cold turkey, whether it involves crack cocaine abuse or any other drug abuse, can be less effective. By going to a treatment center and dealing with your addiction there, you are more likely to find the recovery process to be successful.

Where Can I Get Treatment?

Where Can I Get Treatment?

There are many drug treatment facilities available. Addiction treatment programs are becoming more and more effective at helping you overcome addiction. Whether that is an addiction to crack cocaine, or if you abuse alcohol, you can get help for your substance abuse problem.

Here, at NP Addiction Center, we rely on the expert knowledge of our staff, coupled with the care and compassion that is such an essential part of cementing a sober life. As a respected treatment provider, we recognize the importance of making sure treatment suits your needs.

By incorporating CBT, support groups, medication, and more, we are able to provide you with the right combination of scientifically-backed methods of treatment and personally nurtured care that will set you on the right path.

Our phone lines are available twenty-four hours a day, meaning we are here whenever you need us.

Call us today, on (772) 281-5242 or contact us here to start your journey to wellness and break free from your life of addiction.

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