Crack Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, Causes and Treatment

  1. What is Crack Withdrawal? Does Withdrawal Last Long?
  2. Causes of Crack Withdrawal
  3. Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal
  4. Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms
  5. Treatment for Crack Withdrawal
  6. Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment
  7. How to Care for Someone Going Through Crack Withdrawal

What is Crack? Are There Withdrawals from Crack Use?

Crack, the freebase form of cocaine, is a highly addictive stimulant that can lead to serious health issues.

When addicts suddenly quit using, withdrawal symptoms—which can range from mild to life threatening—are the inevitable result.

What is Crack? Are There Withdrawals from Crack Use?

Smoking crack offers more immediate effects than snorting it, which means that crack-cocaine addicts typically become addicted more quickly than users of powdered cocaine.

If someone you love suffers from a crack addiction, consider seeking help via a Nar-Anon family group while encouraging your loved one to pursue appropriate treatment.

If you need help now, call 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? to discuss crack treatment services available near you.

What is Crack Withdrawal? Does Withdrawal Last Long?

Withdrawal results from a chemical dependency on crack. From the first time you use crack, your body changes the way it reacts to the drug.

Over time, two separate processes keep you using:

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  • Chemical tolerance.
  • Chemical dependence.

Chemical Tolerance

Chemical tolerance, which occurs when your body begins to resist the amount of crack that would previously be sufficient to get you high.

It clouds your judgment and encourages many users to keep abusing the drug.

Chemical Dependence

Chemical dependence occurs if you continue using and is the second process that precipitates withdrawal after abstinence.

When such dependency takes hold, your body thinks it needs crack to function, just like it needs food or water.

The fact that crack tends to cause an inflated sense of competence and confidence tends to compound this phenomenon, whereby users suffer both physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal if they quit using.

Causes of Crack Withdrawal

Crack withdrawal is both psychological and physiological.

Psychological Impact Icon


On the psychological end of things, the stimulating effects of crack can be irresistible.

Over time, stimulants such as crack can even change the way neurotransmitters in your brain work, which means that quitting crack can lead to temporary depression.

Moreover, the changes in psychological state—from highly stimulated back to normal—can feel unpleasant to someone who's grown accustomed to the intense brain activity that crack produces.

Physical Impact Icon


When you stop using crack, your body goes into a shock-like state that can produce moderate to severe symptoms.

The intensity of withdrawal depends on a number of factors. Users who take large quantities of crack tend to suffer the most severe withdrawal symptoms if they:

  • Have depression.
  • Have a cardiovascular disease.
  • Take crack to mask a mental illness.
  • Have used crack longer than a year.

Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal

Difficulty concentrating
Muscle aches and pains

Every crack addict's withdrawal experience is different. The process usually begins with intense cravings around the time you'd have your next crack dose.

If, for example, you use crack twice a day, you can expect cravings to begin about 12 hours in.

Cravings get steadily more intense for the first 2-3 days, with some addicts experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Shaking.
  • Sweating.
  • Muscle aches and pains.
  • Vomiting.
  • Insomnia.
  • Paranoia.

You can expect symptoms to peak around day 3, when crack has fully left your body.

You may continue experiencing symptoms for several days after this point, but most addicts see a marked drop-off in withdrawal symptoms around 7 days.

From there, your cravings will become less severe, though they may continue for several months.

Severity of Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal can even endanger your health by producing seizures, hallucinations, or dehydration.

Crack withdrawal ranges from mild to severe, and it's not always easy to predict who will develop intense withdrawal symptoms and who will sail through the process, comparatively.

Generally speaking, more intense addictions lead to more intense withdrawal. Thus, you're at a higher risk for severe withdrawal if any of the following apply:

  • You spend all or most of your time high.
  • You have used for an extended period of time.
  • You rely on crack to cope with a stressful life or intense emotional pain.

If you are in poor health or your immune system is compromised, withdrawal can even endanger your health by producing seizures, hallucinations or dehydration.

Treatment for Crack Withdrawal

Crack withdrawal does not necessarily require treatment—unless, of course, you have a medical problem or suffer from dangerous withdrawal symptoms, such as dehydration.

Crack addiction, however, demands treatment. Addiction is a disease that changes how your body and brain react to crack

the physical nature of withdrawal makes it painfully clear that crack addiction is not a choice! Not only do those suffering from addiction have to cope with the intense challenges of withdrawal.

They also have to cultivate new skills, such as facing stress, pain, and boredom without relying on crack to cope.

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Treatment

If you need help getting through withdrawal, a number of short-term detox programs can help you get through those first few days.

  • Inpatient

    Some crack detox services are inpatient only, making them an ideal choice for addicts who have little family support or who are unsure whether they'll be able to resist temptation.

    If you prefer a one-stop-shop approach to recovery, inpatient crack rehab offers detox assistance followed by supportive care to stay clean.

  • Outpatient

    If you're anxious about leaving your family or need to continue working through the withdrawal process, an outpatient program could be a better option.

    If you prefer to try outpatient care, a number of options are available:

    • 12-step programs
    • Partial hospitalization/intensive outpatient:
      • These programs blend the intensive treatment of inpatient rehab with a chance to go home at the end of each day.
    • Outpatient therapy
    • Other support groups, such as those you attend at your church
    • Life coaching
    • Lifestyle changes, such as getting more exercise
    • Treatment for any underlying mental health conditions

    If you want to maximize your chances of recovery as an outpatient, consider blending several different treatments.

  • Luxury

    Most facilities provide some combination of therapy, 12-step programs, aftercare planning, and medical support.

    Some offer luxurious settings that resemble a resort, while executive facilities cater to busy professionals who don't have time to quit working.

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How to Care for Someone Going Through Crack Withdrawal

Crack addicts going through withdrawal may feel sluggish, depressed and unmotivated in response to the loss of a powerfully stimulating drug.

Be prepared for your loved one to express feelings of hopelessness and despair.

Don't judge them for these feelings or argue about them, instead, continue to provide reassurance that this, too, shall pass.

Try telling your loved one that the pain he or she feels now is an investment in feeling better in a week or two.

Some other strategies to try include:

  • Bringing your loved one a favorite meal.
  • Spending the night with your loved one so he or she doesn't have to be alone.
  • Planning a stimulating outing.
    • Those suffering from a crack addiction may miss the excitement of the drug, so planning a stimulating day can help take the edge off withdrawal.
  • Making yourself available for emergency phone calls.
  • Offering your loved one help to find treatment.

Crack addiction is treatable, and there's no reason to suffer alone. If you're struggling with addiction, reach out to a friend or loved one, or call 1-888-993-3112Who Answers? to find out about crack abuse and withdrawal treatment options in your area.

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