Crack Cocaine Withdrawal and Detox

This Page was last reviewed and changed on May 6th, 2022

Content Overview

Beyond 24 hours after last using the drug, withdrawal symptoms will probably set in, and they are likely to be the toughest you may encounter. It’s during this stage of withdrawal that most addicts relapse due to the severity of the symptoms. You may feel compelled to get back on crack, which is why it is imperative you get professional help to get you through this stage.

Crack cocaine is a dangerous form of cocaine that produces a powerful ‘high’ almost instantly. The drug is an inexpensive and easily accessible version of powdered cocaine which comes in a rock crystal form, due to the way it’s produced. Because it’s smoked, it travels to the brain very fast through the bloodstream after absorption from the lungs. Its intense pleasurable effects only last for 5-10 minutes, which make it a potent recipe for addiction.

If you use crack over a certain period and but suddenly reduce your intake, you’ll be faced with ugly withdrawal symptoms that may force you to continue using, even if you don’t want to. Your body will make efforts to eliminate the drug through a process known as detox, but this phase will introduce you to certain difficulties. It’s important that you understand what to do if you or a loved one is faced with the ordeal of crack withdrawal.

Crack Cocaine Abuse: How to Get off the Drug

The effects of crack are the most dangerous of any form of cocaine, and the drug also has a very high potential for abuse due to how it affects the body. Users, even first-timers, can easily become addicted because they might want to take the drug repeatedly, in short intervals, to maintain the euphoria and excitement that come with using crack.

Withdrawal symptoms of crack abuse are more severe and dangerous than those of normal cocaine, because of crack’s mechanism of action. Managing withdrawal can be difficult, but with medical help, these symptoms can be alleviated. Symptoms can be best managed through a medically-assisted detox process which will help flush the remnants of crack from your body in a safe manner.

Putting an end to your compulsive use of crack cocaine is possible but can be very difficult due to withdrawal. Most users continue to abuse the drug over a long period due to the fear of withdrawal symptoms. Smoking crack will cause you to become tolerant and dependent on the drug, which means your body will require the drug in incremental doses to remain functional.

To get off the drug, it needs to be adequately removed from your system, to see your body regain its chemical balance and begin to function normally again. Doing this for good requires medical help to ensure the best outcome and significantly reduce the risk of a relapse.

Benefits of withdrawal and detox

If you have abused crack cocaine for a while and have become addicted to the drug, you’ll have to go through withdrawal if you want to quit using. While withdrawal can be discomforting and discouraging, it’s a necessary phase that your body has to deal with before it regains normalcy.

Withdrawal is a normal process whenever you’re discontinuing use and it can be made more bearable if you go through a medically-assisted detox programme.

Detox is also an important stage of recovery because it’s the process involved with dispelling the hazardous remnants of crack in the system. Although the process is accompanied by painful withdrawal symptoms, it can be managed through medical supervision.

Medications used for crack detoxification

If you go through a medical detox, your physician will develop a medical therapy based on your medical history, unique body chemistry, and addiction situation. Unlike alcohol and other legal or illicit drugs, you won’t undergo a tapering method for crack cocaine, rather, you’ll be assisted to quit cold turkey but will be given medication to manage the rush of withdrawal symptoms you may experience. There are two main drugs that are used during crack detox, they are:


This is a medication which is officially used to treat seizures, hot flashes, restless legs syndrome, and neuropathic pain. During crack detox, it is often used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms like seizures, insomnia, and anxiety. The drug works by attaching itself to the brain’s GABA receptors to counteract some of the neurological impacts of crack cocaine abuse.


Vigabatrin is an antiepileptic drug which is mainly used to neutralise feelings of anxiety during detox to help avoid relapse.

What Is Substance Use Disorder?

Substance use disorder is a term used to describe a condition in which an individual has abused an addictive substance like crack cocaine to the point where they can’t stop using even if they try. If you find yourself using crack compulsively and can’t discontinue your use even when you know the dangers involved in using the drug, you’re suffering from a substance use disorder.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Whether it’s you or a loved one that has abused crack and is ready to put an end to your addiction, it’s natural to be afraid of the withdrawal symptoms that may flare up during the first few days of abstinence. But, you should know that despite the risks and difficulties, you can get through it and achieve sobriety with professional help.

What health risks do I face?

There are health risks associated with withdrawal such as heart attacks, strokes, seizures, and neurological problems. However, with medical help, these risks can be averted during detox and you can go on to achieve a full recovery.

How can I ease my loved one’s withdrawal period?

The periods of withdrawal and detox are especially hard and difficult, so it’s important that you support your loved in every way possible. You can start off by making sure they don’t have access to crack to prevent a relapse. You should also make the effort to get them medical help and compel them to take their medication as prescribed by their doctors. You can also help by providing emotional support and motivation by visiting the detox facility where they’re undergoing treatment.

What Are Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms?

Typical crack withdrawal symptoms include:

These symptoms will be tackled by medication therapy and psychotherapy during the detox process. Your doctors will also put you through other healing processes such as exercising, to help your body cope during this time.

Can I detox at home?

The best way to go through detox is under 24-hour medical supervision in a detox facility. This is because of the dangerous effects of crack cocaine. However, if your doctor finds your crack use to be mild, you may be allowed to detox from home. You should never go through withdrawal without medical assistance, even if you want to do it from home.

What are the benefits of a medically-assisted detox?

The initial stage of detox can be the most difficult, as this is the period when withdrawal symptoms are at their most intense. However, going through a medically-assisted detox will see these symptoms significantly reduced and made more bearable. Going through a medical detox will also help avert health complications that may otherwise flare up.

Tolerance and Withdrawal

When you take crack over a long period, your brain will begin to rely on the presence of the drug to carry out normal functions. As time goes on, your body will begin to need more and more of the drug to experience its original effects. This is known as tolerance. In the event that you become tolerant and don’t take as much as your brain and body demand, withdrawal symptoms may begin to set in.

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Dual Diagnosis and Polydrug Withdrawal

For some crack users, there are mental health issues occurring alongside their addiction. These psychological illnesses may be the underlying cause of the user’s addiction or may be occurring as a result of the drug’s impact on the brain and central nervous system. This condition is referred to as a dual diagnosis. It is treated by a special therapist that is cross-trained in addiction treatment and psychotherapy. During your treatment for dual diagnosis, your relationship between your mental health and addiction will be uncovered and tackled appropriately.

There are also cases of polydrug abuse where you may have used crack along with one or more other harmful substances such as alcohol or other illicit drugs. Using two substances at once will increase the dangers of your drug use and also create more severe withdrawal symptoms. This is because consuming two or more substances at the same time can take a serious toll on the body, which can lead to fatal health complications.

During detox for both cases of dual diagnosis and polydrug withdrawal, your doctors will approach your treatment from the psychological and physical fronts, employing medication therapies as well as psychotherapy to keep you stable during the detox process. It’s important that you go through a detox facility that is adequately staffed with experienced professionals that can handle these advanced cases.

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

Every crack cocaine user will experience withdrawal uniquely, depending on factors such as how long they have abused crack, the amount of crack abused, and their physical and mental health. Withdrawal begins to take hold within one to 72 hours after last use and physical symptoms may peak within this period.

The first 72 hours may see you experience symptoms like body aches, paranoia, as well as auditory and visual hallucinations. Paranoia may be extreme during the first 24 hours but will begin to subside, alongside hallucinations, after three days. After this, other symptoms including fatigue, irritability, lethargy, and insomnia will set in going into the first full week.

After seven days, you may begin to experience powerful cravings that may compel you to use again. This symptom is also accompanied by anxiety and mild depression. The 3rd and 4th weeks will see cravings and other physical symptoms reduced, but you may continue to experience psychological symptoms like mood swings, lack of motivation, and depression throughout the first month.

You should remember that this is a generalised timeline for withdrawal. Your case may mean you experience entirely different symptoms during the various stages laid out in this guide. Your doctors will always devise a detox plan after carrying out tests and evaluating your unique situation.

The withdrawal protocol

Withdrawal will occur when you stay away from crack for a while and your body begins to notice the absence of the drug. Tolerance can also cause withdrawal to set in, and this could happen in only an hour after your last dose, depending on the level of your addiction. You’ll always have a mental warning that withdrawal is getting close before the first wave of symptoms hit.

Physical symptoms are known to generally flare up and last for 3-4 weeks, while psychological symptoms will linger much longer. To take care of your situation, doctors will employ medication strategies that are streamlined for your addiction situation.

What Happens after Detox?

After detox, you should ideally go through a rehabilitation process where you’ll be treated psychologically. Detox is the first stage of your recovery and it does not cure your addiction. You’ll still be at risk of a relapse even after detox because your body will still crave crack from time to time.

Is rehab necessary?

While it’s important to go through detox to get rid of the crack in your system, rehab is a necessary phase that will teach you ways of coping without the drug in the long run. You’ll also be taught relapse prevention skills which will help you manage situations that may trigger powerful cravings after your treatment. You should always seek out a competent rehab centre to secure a successful path towards recovery.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can you detox from crack?

Yes, your body will naturally make an attempt to eliminate the toxic remnants in your system after a while without the drug. However, the process of detoxing from crack can be turbulent and challenging, because unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will flare up during this time and compel you to use again. However, you can detox safely from the drug if you go through the process under medical supervision. It is never advised to undergo detox on your own due to the dangerous hazards associated with crack withdrawal. If you or a relative have made the decision to quit, please endeavour to seek help immediately.

Is crack detox medication dangerous?

If you’re to undergo detox in an addiction treatment facility, you’ll be put through different medication therapies to help ease the detox process and keep your body safe from the dangers that come with withdrawal. Certain medications will be administered to soften severe withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and a host of others that may appear.

While these medications play a vital role during the detox process, some possess addictive properties of their own, albeit lesser than crack. This means that you should never self-medicate with these drugs as you may be exchanging one danger for another, or you may be putting yourself at more risk.

How long does crack cocaine withdrawal last?

Crack addiction affects everyone differently and, as such, people have different experiences going through withdrawal. The onset and longevity of each individual’s withdrawal will depend on many factors including their level of tolerance, how much crack they have consumed, how long they have been using, as well as their mental and physical health. Physical symptoms of withdrawal may be present for 1-3 months, although the severity of these symptoms tends to reduce as time goes on. Psychological symptoms may last for 6 months depending on the user’s condition.

Are there any home remedies for crack withdrawal?

You can take measures to ease your withdrawal from home but it is critical that you seek professional help whenever you want to quit. Do not attempt to self-medicate as this could be dangerous to your health.

What is the waiting time for crack cocaine detox clinics?

The best way to put an end to your crack abuse is by starting a safe and detox process in a facility dedicated to this purpose. There are competent detox clinics in the UK that can help you achieve this and see you get on the right track to recovery. However, some detox clinics have long waiting times that may make it frustrating for you. At UKAT, we have clinics that can admit you in as little as 24 hours, with an option for immediate intake also available.

How long does crack cocaine stay in your system?

Despite the short-acting nature of crack, it tends to stay in the body long after its effects have worn off. The body absorbs crack very quickly, but it can linger in different areas, such as the hair and bodily fluids for days or weeks. The drug can be detected after a long while depending on the method of testing used. Crack can be detected in the blood after 8 hours of use and this period can be as low as 2 hours in some individuals. In urine, the drug is generally known to last about 1-4 days, but this duration can be longer or shorter depending on the level of crack abuse. Crack cocaine stays the longest in hair samples where it can be detected months after use.

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