Crack Withdrawal and Detox

Crack, the larger, crystal form of cocaine, is one of the most dangerous drugs in the world.

Crack addiction is a difficult obstacle that many people in the United States struggle with. However, there is help available for you or a loved one suffering from substance use disorder. The first step is to contact a licensed medical facility and inquire about the recommended steps needed to begin the recovery process. These include withdrawal and detoxification, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and aftercare. Withdrawal and detox can be challenging for people, but accepting help from trained professionals is a monumental first step.

Each person experiences crack withdrawal from crack in different ways, whether it’s exhibiting different symptoms or spending varying lengths of time in treatment. For this reason, among others, it’s advised to use a medically supervised detoxification program. Doing so will provide a strong foundation as you remove crack from your body and your life.

Article at a Glance:  

  • Everyone experiences crack withdrawal in a different way, which is why it is advised to detox in a medically supervised program.  
  • Symptoms of crack withdrawal include restlessness, exhaustion, spitting black phlegm, increased appetite, and brain seizures.  
  • The symptoms of crack withdrawal usually start several hours after the last dose of crack.  
  • Therapy and counseling can begin in the crack addiction treatment process after detox.  
  • It is very difficult to quit crack without rehab because home remedies are often ineffective and dangerous.  
Detox is the body’s process of ridding itself of toxic substances, such as crack. If a person is suffering from addiction, their body has built a dependence upon the drug. This causes people to feel ill after an amount of time without it. This ill feeling is called withdrawal, and it is the physical and psychological symptoms of the body adjusting to no longer being dependent on crack.

Withdrawal from crack, like most drugs, is often uncomfortable and can create doubt about continuing the detox process. That’s why it is important to attend a credible rehab program, which often includes 24-hour attention for managing withdrawal symptoms, and can include medications during the crack detox stage to mitigate discomfort. A lack of professional care can lead to a recurring use of crack. When this happens, a person is more susceptible to an overdose because the person’s body is no longer used to the drug, or the dosage level, from prior to beginning the detox process.

The symptoms of crack withdrawal vary for each person and can begin as quickly as within a few hours and continue for weeks or months. Due to the time-sensitive nature of withdrawal, it’s important to find the necessary help as soon as the problem arises. That is the first step toward a healthy and safe detox from crack.

Some people undergoing crack withdrawal will experience severe effects, while others may not experience as many symptoms. Much of this depends on a person’s dosage amount at the time they stopped taking the stimulant. Other factors include personal medical history, body weight and height, age, and family drug history. People suffering through crack withdrawal may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Hypersexuality
  • Bronchitis
  • Heart attack
  • Increased appetite
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Vivid dreams
  • Exhaustion
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Spitting up black phlegm
  • Excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue or feeling lethargic
  • Brain seizures 
Crack withdrawal symptoms are not limited to just physical effects. Psychological or behavioral effects can occur for people after a certain amount of time without the drug. Some of the most common symptoms include:
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of motivation
  • Cravings for the stimulant
  • Chronic depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
Crack withdrawal symptoms often begin several hours after the last dose of the drug. Because the high that is associated with crack comes quicker than it does fro other drugs, the high can quickly wear off. Some people feel cravings for the next dosage as soon as 30 minutes after the last one. While symptoms, and when to expect them, vary for each individual, the typical timeline consists of several stages:

  • Within 72 hours: People often experience the crash from their high. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and include hallucinations or the feeling that their skin is crawling. Many people can also suffer from depression during this time period, which is why it’s important not to be alone at this stage. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and intense sweating.
  • First and second week: Fatigue and sleeping irregularities are a couple of common side effects of withdrawal during this time period. While symptoms can decrease over time, people often feel irritable or apathetic toward recovery. Cravings for crack are also known to increase. Depression can persist, along with anxiety.

Within a month: Common symptoms at this time include rapid and uncontrollable mood swings, depression, and anxiety. While many of the physical symptoms subside, psychological dependency on crack often continues. Even once medical detoxification finishes, people should continue to use professional care to complete their rehabilitation.

Detoxification is the body’s natural function that removes toxins from its system. Once a drug like crack enters the body,the detox process begins. That’s why crack and other drugs only have a temporary effect. Many people connect withdrawal symptoms with detoxification because their timelines overlap. However, detox technically begins before the symptoms of crack withdrawal first appear and this discomfort can last long after detox finishes.

There are many places where people can undergo detoxification from crack, although some are safer than others. Some of the more common places where people attempt detoxification at include:

  • Hospitals
  • Detoxification centers
  • Rehab facilities
  • At home

While there are plenty of ways to go about detox, a medical facility can provide the benefit of constant care in a safe environment. It’s recommended to detox at a medical facility to benefit from the constant medical supervision that is available. This type of personal attention can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms, creating the most comfortable experience possible.

While detoxification removes harmful substances from the body, the recovery process continues. Detox from crack is the first step in seeking treatment. At The Recovery Village, some clients enter rehab having already completed detox. Meanwhile, for other patients, detox is the step in their treatment. The stages of rehabilitation are typically:

  • Evaluation
  • Detox
  • Therapy
  • Aftercare planning or sober living

During evaluation at The Recovery Village, the intake team takes time to get to know the client. Medical doctors, nurses and counselors discuss the client’s substance use disorder and dependency. Clinicians may also use this time to ask about other symptoms the client may have. This process helps identify if there are any co-occurring disorders, such as mental health issues, and how to address them through a comprehensive treatment plan.

Detox is the first step of treatment and can occur after the client arrives at The Recovery Village. An expert team of nurses provide constant care and the client receives regular visits with their doctor to make sure crack detox and withdrawal is not dangerous to their health. Dehydration is one of the risks during this stage. The body uses any means necessary — including diarrhea, vomiting and excessive sweating — to expel substances from the body. This can leave a person dehydrated and lacking nutrients.

Once the detox is complete, therapy can begin. Counseling is the key to crack addiction treatment at The Recovery Village. Each patient’s treatment plan is customized, as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to drug rehabilitation. Individual and group therapy sessions are common aspects of a client’s recovery process. The length of rehab varies for each client, although research shows that a longer stay usually offers the most benefits.

As treatment continues, The Recovery Village’s medical team helps develop an aftercare plan so that the client is set up for success in post-rehab life. Aftercare planning is a significant step to prevent the recurring use of crack and other drugs. In many cases, aftercare plans include follow-up doctor and therapy appointments, as well as information on 12-step programs that are available close to the client’s home.

There are two common ways to stop smoking crack: The first decreases the dosage slowly and is called “tapering off,” and the second is the “cold turkey” approach. Many people who suffer from addiction and are desperate to move out of the drug’s grasp will elect the cold turkey approach, which involves stopping all drug intake at once and usually without any medications to help manage withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, medical professionals advise against the cold turkey detox method, particularly at home. Withdrawal can be more severe and begin rapidly, which could create a life-threatening situation for some people. This can cause recurring use of crack, which can lead to an overdose if someone returns to a high dosage after a period of time without the drug.

Seeking professional assistance to taper off of crack can lead to a safer foundation for recovery. In this stage, clients may receive medications from doctors to lessen the effects of the withdrawal symptoms. Some of the most common medications used for crack addiction and withdrawal include:

  • Propranolol — Treats anxiety, agitation and hypertension
  • Baclofen — Muscle relaxer that can reduce cravings
  • Tiagabine — Anticonvulsant that has shown positive results in continuing recovery from cocaine and opiate addiction
  • Modafinil — Narcolepsy medication to prevent the recurring use of crack
  • Disulfiram — Alcohol addiction treatment that blocks the high from taking cocaine

The Recovery Village has a full continuum of care available to help clients recover from addiction to crack. The trained staff will moderate your withdrawal symptoms and create the most comfortable environment possible. Contact The Recovery Village to learn more about treatment options.

Some people choose to stop smoking crack without any medications or without tapering off from the drug. While this can be dangerous, it is possible. Even with medical supervision, people can experience severe withdrawal symptoms, but nurses and doctors can monitor how the body reacts and can prevent a life-threatening situation.

If people attempt the cold turkey strategy at home, or without medical assistance, it can become very dangerous. Not only does this method lead to an increase in recurring use, it can put the person in danger. While unlikely, it is possible to die from crack withdrawal. A few symptoms like heart attacks, seizures, paranoia and depression can call lead to death.

To ensure the safest detox environment possible, it’s recommended to undergo this stage of rehab in a hospital or other medical facility. The Recovery Village has locations throughout the country with trained staff available to assist clients through the detox process. While The Recovery Village may have a treatment center in your state, there are many resources available in every state.

Many people wonder how to get off crack without rehab, but there is no easy way to do so. Crack addiction is a serious illness and attempting to tackle it without medical assistance can be extremely dangerous. Due to the effects that the drug has on both the body and mind, along with the severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can occur, it is very difficult to forego this stage of recovery.

While at The Recovery Village’s rehab facilities, clients can uncover the roots of their addiction to crack. Clients stay at one of the inpatient rehabilitation facilities where they participate in individual and group therapy, and learn to cope with substance use disorder in a positive environment. Additionally, clients receive essential support from nurses, doctors and therapists, along with clients experiencing the same struggles.

Many people have tried home remedies to stop smoking crack, but these methods are typically not as effective as a medically supervised rehab program. If someone attempts to mitigate withdrawal symptoms using replacement medications, the results can be deadly. People can also suffer by overmedicating themselves during this process.

While activities like pet and art therapy, yoga or meditation can help, they should be complimented by a full crack rehabilitation program.

While many people attempt to remove crack addiction from their lives without proper rehab programs, this can be dangerous. Crack addiction is a struggle, and many people may be desperate to find a quick-fix solution. However, this can have the opposite effects that you desire. You don’t need to endure this process on your own. Before using any home remedies or attempting a cold-turkey approach, contact The Recovery Village and speak to a representative about treatment options. Your safety and comfort is The Recovery Village’s top priority, and a drug-free future is attainable.

Australian Government Department of Health. “The Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome.” Department of Health, Australian Government, Apr. 2004. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Kampman, Kyle M. “New Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine Dependence.” PubMed Central (PMC), National Institutes of Health, Dec. 2005. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

MedlinePlus. “Cocaine Withdrawal.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Apr. 2015. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.


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