Crack-cocaine is the crystallized version of powder cocaine. A mixture of cocaine, water, and baking soda, crack is often cooked on a spoon held over a burner or flame. Once the drug is cooked, it’s broken into small pieces called rocks. Its name is derived from the crackling or popping sound it makes when cooking.

Less expensive than other illegal drugs and providing a more intense high, crack became the drug of choice for many people during the mid-1980s to early ‘90s. The surge in use lead to a wave of addiction and violence. Mostly affecting African-American and Hispanic communities, the impact of the crack epidemic is still felt today in neighborhoods in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.

Crack’s highly addictive properties make it one of the hardest drugs to withdrawal from. The symptoms of withdrawal are primarily psychological. Because it is the more potent version of cocaine, once crack is smoked, it reaches the bloodstream quicker, causing a 10-to-15 minute euphoric high. During this time, the brain releases a large amount of dopamine, but these pleasure levels quickly plummet once the high is over. An users is left feeling depressed and craving more of the drug almost immediately after.

The Dangers of Quitting Crack Cold Turkey

Crack withdrawal is similar to cocaine withdrawal, but its higher level of potency usually make the symptoms more severe. Addicted crack users who abruptly stop using the drug (known a quitting cold turkey) will experience a painful withdrawal process. Although withdrawal from crack is typically not life-threatening, symptoms include depression, nausea and paranoia. Crack is a stimulant that also exposes its users to extreme mood swings, anxiety, aggression. Some users have committed suicide trying to withdrawal from crack without medical help. A detox or drug rehab facility can help addicted users cope with these potent psychological symptoms and prevent a return to use.

Crack is associated with violent crime

Crack, also known as base, candy, kryptonite, and rocks, also causes psychiatric side effects, including violence. In a study published by the National Institute of Health (NIH), 26 percent of 200 crack users admitted to committing a crime while on crack, and 95 percent of those crimes were violent. The study concluded that chronic crack use leads to a neurotransmitter dysfunction, which causes a dramatic change in the brain’s pleasure centers. This dysfunction is the premise of aggression, hyperactivity, impaired judgement, and other illicit behavior when an heavy user struggles with withdrawal.

Seeking Help for Crack Withdrawal

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2013, 68 percent of people seeking drug treatment for cocaine smoked crack. Take advantage of our services and get the help you need today. If you, or a loved one, struggle with a crack addiction, then call our 24-7 specialists at (855)-619-8070. You can also search for facilities in your area using our Find a Rehab search.

Crack Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Crack Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of withdrawal occur almost immediately after the last use of crack. While some of the psychological effects will take from a few days or weeks into the withdrawal process, there are still medical and physical signs that you should take heed to when entering the acute withdrawal stage.

The symptoms list includes:

  • cravings
  • chest pains
  • extreme aggression or violence
  • heart palpitations
  • hoarse voice
  • increased appetite
  • intense skin itching
  • lack of concentration
  • runny nose
  • teeth grinding
  • vivid dreams or nightmares

These are just some of the symptoms that can take place between 24 to 48 hours. According to the NIH, those who inhaled or smoked crack was more prone to anger and violence than those who snorted the drug. Crack is also commonly linked to homicides in cities such as New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York.

Perhaps the most dangerous symptom of severe withdrawal is suicide. When a crack or cocaine users commits suicide, it is usually the direct result of self-destructive violence and/or depression. If you struggle with crack abuse and are having suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately.


Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

The length of withdrawal will vary depending on the severity of the addiction. Withdrawal can begin as soon as an hour to 24 hours after the last dose of crack is ingested. Because there is no set timeline, those in recovery from the drug may experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), up to six months after their last use. At a detox or drug rehab facility, these symptoms can be properly managed with medication and behavioral therapy.

Because the symptoms are difficult to cope with, it’s important that a user recovers at a treatment or detox facility, where they will be monitored by medical professionals. Also, group therapy and medication are important to help the client resist relapse or a possible overdose.

    • Days 1 to 3

      During the first 72 hours, symptoms will usually worsen as the withdrawal progresses. Some of the initial symptoms felt are depression, lack of concentration, insatiable hunger, and cravings. Because crack affects dopamine levels and damages the brain’s central nervous system, a user may notice extreme mood swings, and aggressive or irrational behavior.


    • Week 1

      After the first week of withdrawal, an addict will notice that their symptoms have mostly subsided. But this doesn’t mean the withdrawal process is over. Since crack damages the pleasure center of the brain, psychological side effects, such as insomnia, lack of concentration, and irritability may persist. During this time, a user may even be tempted to relapse in order to ease these symptoms.


    • Weeks 2 to 4

      The first month of withdrawal is accompanied by mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. As the body continues to wean itself off of the drug, some psychological effects may continue. A former user may still struggle with depression, irritability, restlessness, and insomnia. Some of the physical symptoms that might still be prevalent at this point are muscle spasms, increased heart rate, and convulsions.


    • Months 3 to 6

      In some cases of withdrawal, some people may still struggle with post-acute withdrawal symptoms. It’s important that the recovering addict is surrounded by supportive family and friends in order to help them conquer withdrawal even months after their last dose of crack cocaine.


Crack Withdrawal Detox and Treatment

Treating Crack Withdrawal

Both medical intervention and therapy are used to help aid a client. Since a user must stop consuming crack while at a detox center, a physician will prescribe the client medications to help ease their central nervous system. Drugs used to treat epilepsy, muscle spasms, and restless leg syndrome are also prescribed to clients. The most common medications used at a detox center are:

  • Baclofen: Commonly used to help muscle spasms, a physician may also prescribe this medication to help with the release of the calming neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA).
  • Gabapentin: This drug is used to help seizures and it also promotes the release of GABA.
  • Modafinil: This medication helps ease restlessness and fatigue while increasing dopamine release.
  • Topiramate: This anticonvulsant is used to help reduce overactivity in the central nervous system.
  • Vigabatrin: Helping to ease cravings, this drug helps with the increase of GABA.

Therapeutic Interventions for Withdrawal

After detox, which is the initial step in treatment and lasts for five to seven days, a therapist will begin to help treat the client’s addiction using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). In group and individual therapy sessions, clients have the opportunity to discover the root of their addiction and how to better control habits or behaviors that led to their addiction. Using holistic methods, such as yoga, and spiritual affirmation, also helps to naturally calm the brain’s central nervous system and to control aggressive or irrational behavior.

Seeking Help for Addiction

If you are struggling with a crack addiction or withdrawal, our 24-7 hotline can help connect you to the best detox and treatment facility in your area. Call us today at (855) 619-8070 to receive the assistance you need when making the crucial decision to receive help. The psychological and physical effects caused by crack abuse can be traumatizing and lead to a relapse, overdose and death. Suicidal thoughts and depression should be treated immediately and effectively, so don’t wait. Call us today and start your path to a new life in recovery.

Crack Withdrawal Frequently Asked Questions

Crack Withdrawal Frequently Asked Questions
    • How can I get my loved one off crack?

      Trying to help a loved one struggling with a crack addiction is difficult. It’s important to understand that the behaviors your loved one exhibit are due to a chemical imbalance of chronic crack use. Also, the best way to intervene on a crack addiction is to stop enabling your loved one by giving them money or turning a blind eye to their irrational behavior. Call our specialists today to receive more information about addiction and how to help your child, sibling, or parent to beat their crack habit.


    • Can withdrawal kill you?

      Yes. Withdrawal from crack can lead a person to attempt suicide or overdose from a relapse. Because crack symptoms can be severe depending on the longevity of the addiction, it’s important that an addict seek treatment to help with their symptoms. If you are struggling with extreme depression and/or suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately.


    • Why is crack so addictive?

      Because crack is the more potent form of cocaine, it makes users high much faster than powdered cocaine. Although the high only lasts anywhere from five to 15 minutes, its euphoric effects leave people craving more almost immediately after their high. Another factor of its popularity is that it’s cheaper and more accessible in middle to low class neighborhoods.


    • Why is itching a symptom of withdrawal?

      Itching can be a sign of the drug being laced with harmful chemicals. Crack use can also cause a form of pneumonia, a condition knowns as “crack lungs.” The lung condition leads to coughing up blood, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and itchy skin.


    • What are the seven stages of withdrawal?

      The seven stages of crack withdrawal are used to track crack-cocaine use and withdrawal patterns. They include:

      • currently using
      • panic stage (1 to 3 hours after last dose)
      • crash stage (3 to 24 hours after last dose)
      • honeymoon stage (1 to 5 days after last dose)
      • return of craving (5 to 14 days after last dose)
      • emotional augmentation (14 to 28 days in withdrawal, can last for up to 2 years)
      • covert cravings (28 to 35 days in withdrawal)
      • Cue conditioning (35 days+ in withdrawal)

    • What are the long-term effects of withdrawal?

      Some of the long-term effects of withdrawal can impact the brain’s central nervous system and how it releases dopamine. Therefore, some recovering addicts may struggle with depression or stress triggers, such as money, anger, or disappointment, which can cause cravings. Other long-term effects include:

      • depression
      • insomnia
      • muscle spasms
      • mood swings
      • nightmares

Crack Statistics:

  • According to Drug War Facts, in 2014, almost 800,000 people in the US, ages 12 and older, admitted to using crack in the past year.
  • More than 25% of crack users abuse or are dependent on the drug, according to Drug War Facts.
  • According to statistics from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 55% or crack users were white and the black population accounted for 37% of the crack users, meaning they were 3.5 times more likely than whites to use crack.