How to withdraw from crack

There is no current medication specifically recommended for crack withdrawal. And stopping crack can manifest withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, cravings, body aches, chills and tremors. More here on what to expect during crack withdrawal and how to manage symptoms with a section at the end for your questions.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.
Reviewed by: Dr. Juan Goecke, M.D.

ARTICLE OVERVIEW: Crack is one of the most addictive drugs available. So if you’re looking to quit crack, you’ve come to the right place. Here, you will learn more about crack cocaine addiction, available treatment options, and what you can do to help yourself or an addicted loved one quit. We also invite your questions about crack withdrawal or addiction treatments for crack at the end.


When Do You Withdraw From Crack?

If you or someone you know is using crack regularly and heavily then you know that it needs to stop. How crack works in the brain brings on addiction as an expected outcome. Crack withdrawal usually occurs when you’ve been using crack daily and either lower doses or stop completely.

The drug can impact your personal and professional life negatively: there is a loss motivation, constantly looking for the next fix, hallucinations, paranoia and even suicidal thoughts. Overdosing on crack or mixing it with other drugs can be potentially fatal, so you know that something concrete needs doing to end the crack addiction.

Withdraw From Crack Symptoms

Crack withdrawal symptoms could vary greatly but some of the most commonly seen symptoms are:

  • Aggression and angry outbursts.
  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Constant hunger.
  • Craving the drug to the point of obsession where it may seem impossible to think of anything else
  • Feeling sleepy or extreme fatigue
  • Flu like symptoms: chills, nausea, runny nose, body aches.
  • Mood swings.
  • Sleep may be disturbed by very vivid dreams and nightmares.

How Long To Withdraw From Crack?

The length of time it takes to withdraw from crack can differ from person to person and is based on many factors: mental makeup, how long they were using and how much, and their ability to deal with stress, as well as the kind of help and support the user gets. The withdrawal phase could last from a couple of months to a couple of years; the urge to use may even manifest after years of sobriety particularly if there is a triggering incident.

The first withdrawal symptoms such as panic, anxiety, an intense craving could appear just hours after the last use of crack. The user may then feel depressed and even suicidal during the first few days after stopping. Many users report to experiencing what is known as a “honeymoon stage” a few days after their last use, when they feel fine and feel they have kicked the habit.
But this is typically followed by a very intense craving. A week or two after last use, the obsession to use may return with a vengeance as the brain chemistry struggles to regain normalcy. The user may try to think up excuses to use again; employing defense mechanisms like denial, rationalization, and minimizing. The user may feel great anger, may be irritable, may have trouble with their memory and may experience mood swings. They could have very vivid dreams and may feel exhausted.

How To Ease Withdrawal Symptoms From Crack?

Crack users or those close to them can help support recovery by easing the withdrawal symptoms using the following means:

  • Joining Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous can substantially bolster recovery and give a former crack user the required motivation to remain clean.
  • Low impact exercise such as walking and cycling and concentrating on eating a healthy diet can help restore good health and feelings of wellbeing.
  • Mind body interventions such as meditation, yoga, tai chi can also help lower stress and improve coping skills.
  • Psychotherapy can help identify addictive behaviors and equip the addict with healthy responses to enabling environments and individuals.
  • Resuming normal social interaction with friends and family will reduce feelings of isolation and restore normalcy.

The Best Way To Withdraw From Crack

There is no medication that is specifically recommended for crack withdrawal. In some clinical trials, drugs such as Modafinil, Zofran Baclofen, Celexa and some others have been seen to help lower cocaine intake. However self help, being a part of support groups may actually be more effective since crack creates largely psychological addiction. Intensive treatment involving frequent visit to the addiction clinic or therapist and a longer duration of treatment are seen to be most effective.

How To Withdraw From Crack Safely?

The safest way to withdraw from crack safely may be to check into a residential rehab facility where the addict is not only weaned off their drug but is simultaneously offered therapy and equipped with the tools for coping when they rejoin the real world. However, creating safe environments within the home and work/school spheres and avoiding triggering people and situations can also help you withdraw safely from crack.

Can I Withdraw From Crack At Home?

It depends. Feelings of isolation and mourning at the loss of one’s stimulant (drug) and dealing with stress can be real problems which could trigger relapse into crack use. So for some addicts, withdrawing from crack at home may be possible if a safe, non-enabling environment that supports recovery is present. In fact, statistics show that most treatments for crack addiction are conducted in outpatient settings.
For others, checking into a rehab facility may be a better idea, since it could well jump start the recovery program in a safe, sanitized environment under constant supervision. This could be a better option for those who have a history of addiction; who have tried to get clean and failed before.

For those that continue to stay home, it’s recommended that you enroll in an outpatient treatment center that will monitor progress. Likewise, join a support group such as Narcotics Anonymous/Cocaine Anonymous. Since addiction to crack in mainly psychological (as opposed to physical dependence), recovery has to be oriented towards psychosocial treatment, developing coping mechanisms to stress and creating safe non-triggering environments.

How To Deal With Withdrawal From Crack Questions

Withdrawing from crack can be very difficult; the urge to use again can be almost overwhelming. But the fact that you have decided to regain control of your life by overcoming addiction is a huge first step. If there is any additional information or guidance you need, write in to us and we will revert ASAP. If you have any comments or information to share, join in the discussion below.

Reference Sources: NCBI: Cocaine And Psychiatric Symptoms
NIDA: Essence Of Drug Addiction
CHCE: Textbook Of Substance Abuse Treatment (Excerpt)
NCBI: Cognitive Impairment In Acute Cocaine Withdrawal
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.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Goecke is a medical doctor and general surgeon with personal experience of...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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