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How to stop using crack

If you’ve decided to stop taking crack and wonder what’s the first step, you’ve found the right place. This decision could be the most important once you will ever make. Learn what exactly happens when you stop using crack, what to expect and the best way to quit. At the end, we invite you to ask additional questions about crack detox treatments. In fact, we try to respond to all legitimate questions personally and promptly.

Can I just stop taking crack?

It depends.

If you’ve been using crack for more than a month or so, it’s pretty hard to just stop taking it. You’ll need to be prepared for the emergence of withdrawal symptoms once you quit or lower your dose. This is because you’ve developed a physical dependence to crack, meaning that your body has adjusted to the presence of the drug and has modified the normal production of neurotransmitters. If you just stop taking it, your body triggers an abrupt chemical change manifesting a number of symptoms which can be unbearable.

If you are unsure whether your body has developed dependence on crack cocaine, or not, think of whether you have increased your dose lately to feel the effects of cocaine. If the answer is positive, that means you have developed tolerance to the drug which can occur at the same time as dependence. In these cases, a way to stop using may be to gradually decrease dosing since the body will feel the absence in a more subtle way and manifest more mild symptoms. Other people may benefit from a cold turkey withdrawal from crack.

What happens when you stop taking crack?

Once you stop taking crack, you go through a period of withdrawal. During this time, your central nervous system reacts to the absence of cocaine by manifesting a number of symptoms of “extreme slow down” and depression. Crack alters the brain chemistry in such a way that it modifies the normal production of neurotransmitters to release much more dopamine than normal. This is what causes the high. On the flip side, quitting crack can make you feel the low, and many people have a hard time feeling pleasure as a result of the decreased dopamine levels.

Quitting crack side effects

Cessation of crack is accompanied with a number of predictable side effects. An individual quitting crack may experience any or all of the following:

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  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • craving for the drug
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • mental disturbances
  • mood swings
  • nausea
  • pains
  • restlessness
  • sleep disturbances
  • suicidal feelings

The intensity and the number of the side effects a person will experience will depend a great deal on their level of dependence. It is best to stay under medical surveillance during this stage, which can start few hours after cessation and usually peaks around Day 3 and can last for around a week, or so.

Stop taking crack suddenly

It is not recommended to suddenly stop taking crack without medical supervision, as this can increase the chances of relapse. Due to its highly addictive properties, expect that your body will not react well to this shock and the sudden stopping can provoke severe cravings and intense withdrawal symptoms. What’s recommended instead is to seek medical help, including psychotherapy and emotional support, during withdrawal. Nonaddictive medication may be necessary to treat underlying conditions such as anxiety and depressive disorders. So, getting the help you need can lead to increased chances for staying clean.

Stop taking crack cold turkey

Quitting crack cold turkey means quitting abruptly and provoking the withdrawal symptoms as soon as possible. While this is possible, it is not what doctors may recommend, since it’s pretty tormenting to endure. It can be both psychologically and physically traumatic so it is better to consult a medical professional about the efficacy of stopping crack cold turkey in your particular case, especially if you’ve been using crack for a while now.

How do I stop taking crack?

To stop taking crack, you should start by consulting a medical professional: a doctor, a psychiatrist, or psychologist. Seek help from people who have experience in addiction medicine. The first things to do is to bring the central nervous system back into balance. This stage of the recovery is also known as acute detox and it’s the most critical one since symptoms of withdrawal are most intense during this period. It’s highly recommended to seek medical assistance to have your symptoms monitored, or seek medical advice if you want to stay at home while your body gets rid of the toxins. In such a case, make sure your place is devoid of abusive substances and you have moral support from close ones.

Next may follow a period of “protracted” or “post-acute” withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). During this time, you may have trouble feeling pleasure, trouble with sleep, or with mood disorders. PAWS can persist for 6-12 months (or longer) after you quit crack…so seek the appropriate help for symptoms as you experience them.

Finally, the best way to treat crack addiction is by addressing the psychological and emotional issues that led you to crack. Therapy which addresses past trauma, ways of thinking, or beliefs about yourself can be incredibly helpful. You can seek individual therapy, group therapy, or family therapy for this. You can also look into support groups such as 12-step meetings, SMART Recovery, or Rational Recovery in order to benefit from peer support. The thing is: getting crack out of your system is just the beginning. You need to change the way you “do life” in order to stay clean after the detox.

How to stop taking crack safely

  1. The safest way to stop taking crack is under medical surveillance.
  2. It’s considered the safest way, because symptomatic treatments can help you to decrease the chances of relapse. The emotional support can also help increases your chances of success.Every time you want to quit, consult a medical professional before commencing and follow their suggestions.

How to stop taking crack questions

Do you have additional questions about stopping crack? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we will try to answer you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Outpatient treatment of ‘crack’ cocaine smoking
NCBI: Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms
NCBI: Among long-term crack smokers, who avoids and who succumbs to cocaine addiction?
U.S. Government Accountability Office: The crack cocaine epidemic: Health consequences and treatment

Photo credit: Tiger Pixel

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5 Responses to “How to stop using crack
Brad Gregory
12:56 pm March 20th, 2015

I screwed up agin this is a long lonely road.

5:12 pm March 20th, 2015

Hi Brad. Relapse is highly common for cocaine users. Don’t give up! The cravings, however, can be addressed with the help of a support group and/or a psychotherapist. Also, it can help to attend an inpatient rehab, especially if environmental triggers lead to the relapse. Reach out for help, it is there.

Breeze
10:39 pm November 28th, 2015

Stay away from users

maria
8:55 pm April 9th, 2016

my brother was living on the streets doing crack almost everyday along with whatever else he could take for about a year and a half, he lives with me and at first was disappearing every weekend, he has been struggling and is holding his job current job, but about every 10 t o12 days for the last 3 months he disappears for a day or two and abuses alcohol and crack, doesn’t go to work and he returns home saying he needs help, i say i will help as long as he lets me, he sleeps it off goes to work endures stomach pain, displays moodiness, and sleeps most of the weekend, he avoids talking with me about his problem, says he is fine, seems to be tolerating and handling “life” for the next week or so and he does it again. He refuses to go to therapy or to see a psychiatrist that can help him address the imbalance that is brain is dealing with. I am tempted to not let him back in the next time he does this, but it seems like I have given up if I do that . What can I do??

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:31 pm May 5th, 2016

Hi Maria. I suggest that you look into the CRAFT model for families and interventions. One NGO called Allies in Recovery has some online reading that can help:
http://alliesinrecovery.net/about-craft/

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