Crack detox timeline: How long to detox from crack?

Crack detox is most severe in the first week after last use. But psychological withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks and even months after cessation. A clear picture of what to expect during crack detox here.

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Are you or a loved one using crack? Do you wonder how to quit? You’re in the right place.

To begin, you’ll need to remove cocaine from your body. But how long does crack detox typically last? What happens during the process? For more info on the duration and timeline of crack rehab and detox, what is the best crack cocaine addiction treatment program for you, and what you can expect in our A-Z guide about Crack Addiction Treatment Programs and Help.

At the end, we invite your questions and comments about treatments for crack detox. We try to respond to all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt reply.

Crack detox duration and length

The duration of time it takes to withdraw from crack and the intensity of symptoms varies from person to person. Generally, the first withdrawal symptoms appear within couple of hours after the last dose and persist for few days, peaking about 72 hours after last dose. Following the first week or two after stopping, the brain struggles to regain normalcy and produces intense cravings. And it is common for protracted – or post-acute – withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) to persist for months after initial detox.

The total time you spend during acute crack detox will depend on a number of factors including:

  • amount of use
  • duration (over time) of use
  • frequency of use
  • level of cocaine dependency
  • your general health

Another determining factor is how psychologically ready you are to quit using. The first few weeks of crack detox ar, perhaps, the most critical point for slipping into relapse due to intense cravings. However, while detoxing is not easy, it is a necessary part of the whole recovery process. Remember, detox is only a beginning and will not resolve an addiction to crack; psychological and behavioral treatments are necessary.

Crack detox timeline and schedule

Once a person stops using crack there are predictable patterns that characterize the post-cessation period:

0-72 hours

The period between the first hours to 3-4 days after the last dose is known as the “crash” period and is characterized by the presence of symptoms such as anxiety, fatigue, sleepiness and intense cravings. The individual may also feel depressed and have suicidal thoughts, so being surrounded by medical professionals and/or close friends and family is highly recommended.

Weeks 1-2

Compulsive behavior persists in the first two weeks after cessation, but decreases as days pass by. During this period, the brain is struggling to adjust to the absence of cocaine and severe cravings can be triggered by thoughts, behaviors, or even smells. Individuals may manifest hostile and impulsive behavior and feel irritated and moody. They could also have trouble concentrating, increased appetite and experience vivid dreams.

Weeks 3-4

This phase is known as the honeymoon phase. Cocaine cravings gradually reduce and mood improves. Individuals feel energetic, confident and full of optimism. They want to go back to normal life feeling as if they have kicked the habit. However, it has been estimated that two-thirds of relapse in drug abuse cases takes place within 3 months post-treatment. Further, the treatment of protracted withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) should not be disregarded as this is another critical point when relapse is very likely to occur. For these reasons, ongoing psychological treatment is imperative after acute detox occurs.

How long to detox from crack?

It can take months to fully detox from crack and manage cravings for cocaine. How long crack withdrawal can last is highly individual. Crack damages brain functions and it may take three to six months after acute detox is finished for the brain to restore normal functioning. The symptoms that occur in the phase are known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and in most cases these decrease over time. The most common symptoms of PAWS usually include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia

Further, it is important to understand that each person’s detox will be different. The duration of crack detox will depend a great deal on the level of a dependency and a person’s individual needs. While the physical withdrawal symptoms from crack detox are most severe within the first week after the last use and reduce with each passing day, the psychological withdrawal symptoms may persist for weeks and even months after cessation.

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Reference Sources: NCBI: Cocaine and Psychiatric Symptoms
NIDA: Monographs Cocaine Treatment: Research and Clinical Perspectives
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
VRIS: Substance Use Disorders
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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