Cocaine - Crack, Substance Abuse

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

Crack cocaine paraphernalia

Over the three decades that Americans have been battling crack addiction, many have tried to break free of their dependency at home with relatively low success rates. This is largely attributable to the extreme withdrawal symptoms users experience—suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, wild and vivid dreams, depression, and more.

And while the odds may seem insurmountable, recovery is possible. And with medically supervised detox, the journey to de-addiction begins in an understanding, supportive and safe environment.

Understanding Crack Cocaine

If you or a family member are addicted to crack and need resources to help deal with the dependency, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve collated all the information you could possibly need to understand the addiction, how to get help, and what happens during treatment.

crack cocaine paraphernalia

What is Crack Cocaine?

Crack is an addictive stimulant drug that speeds up the body’s systems.

It is a crystallized form of cocaine made from combining cocaine, water, and often baking soda. After a mixing-heating-cooling process, the final product is a tan, white, cream, or light brown concentrate. Occasionally, additives like Ritalin or Lidocaine are added to make crack. Adding an additive can change the color of the crystallized rock and increase its potency.

Smoking is the most common way of consuming crack cocaine. It takes less than a minute for the drug to take effect. The peak arrives after 5 minutes, and it takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the effects of the drug to wear off. The most common crack addict symptoms are burns on fingers and blistering of lips.

Is Crack Cocaine Addictive?

Crack cocaine is highly addictive as it produces a euphoric effect. And since the brain develops a biochemical dependency on crack at first use, people are instantly addicted to it. Users have reported feeling energetic, confident, elated, and even focused when on a crack high. Unfortunately, the aftermath is much worse, making the user feel anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted, and aggressive.

Woman experiencing pain from crack cocaine addiction.

Can You Overdose on Crack Cocaine?


There is no regulation on crack cocaine, so there’s no way to test its purity or potency. Mixing crack with other drugs increases the intensity of the drug’s effects. It can result in an overdose. Other oversights like swallowing crack or smoking it in excess can also result in an overdose.

We’re sharing crack high symptoms to help you identify if someone you know is at risk of overdosing.

Physical Symptoms of a Crack Overdose

  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Nausea/ vomiting
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Tremors and convulsions
  • Fever
  • Seizures
  • Itching
  • Fainting
  • Cold sweats
  • Diarrhea
  • Clammy skin
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Death

Psychological Symptoms of a Crack Overdose

  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Disorientation

Dangers of Crack Cocaine

  • Mental health damage, cocaine depression, and suicidal thoughts
  • An increase in relapses will break the resolve of the person to overcome addiction
  • Loss of rationality increases satisfaction from crack abuse
  • Withdrawing from crack encourages alternate substance abuse
  • Paranoia or psychosis intensifies and manifests into actions, endangering the lives of people around the addict
  • Lowered tolerance leads to an increased risk of a cocaine overdose from repeat consumption.

Short Term Effects of Crack

  • Cravings
  • Increased alertness
  • Euphoria
  • Increased heart rate
  • Dilated pupils
  • Decreased appetite

Long Term Effects of Crack

  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Tooth decay
  • Infertility
  • Kidney failure
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Permanent damage to blood vessels
  • Liver and lung damage
  • Respiratory failure
  • Abscesses
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Pulmonary disorders
  • Neurological problems
  • Infectious diseases
  • Delirium
  • Apathy
  • Disorientation
Woman in distress from crack cocaine addiction.

Effects of Crack Abuse During Maternity

Over 750,000 pregnancies are affected by crack abuse annually. However, reports might show a significantly lower number as most women are terrified of losing custody of their children once they’ve admitted to their addiction. Some of the effects of cocaine abuse during pregnancy are:

  • Difficulty delivering
  • Preterm labor
  • Miscarriages
  • Premature membrane rupture
  • The placental lining separates from the uterus before the delivery

Crack Withdrawal

Does crack have withdrawal symptoms? Yes, any user will experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to recover from an addiction, including crack.

Crack withdrawal symptoms are both physically and emotionally unpleasant, making breaking free from addiction extremely difficult, especially in isolation. That doesn’t mean there’s no solution.

While quitting cocaine isn’t easy and needs resolve, you can get help from family, friends, and professionals. A medical professional at a detox center can help with the withdrawal symptoms, health concerns, and safety, while family can provide you motivation and support.

It isn’t easy to admit to substance abuse, especially given the stigma attached to it. However, addicts need professional help. They are the only ones that can help a user safely and successfully overcome the worst crack cocaine withdrawal symptoms with the least discomfort.

It might be a long journey, but with patience, an addict can lead a better life.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Coke Addiction

Cocaine withdrawl symptoms are very different from drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms and their severity also depend on factors like age, medical history, dosage, etc. That being said, here’s a list of symptoms most crack addicts experience.

What Are Some Withdrawal Symptoms Of Crack Use?

Physical Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal

The side effects and withdrawal symptoms of crack include feeling restless, agitated, and paranoid. Other physical side effects that may occur from crack withdrawal include:

  • Spitting black phlegm
  • Hypersexuality
  • Bronchitis
  • Heart attack
  • Erratic sleeping patterns
  • Vivid dreams
  • Exhaustion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Excessive sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue or feeling lethargic
  • Brain seizures
  • Increased appetite
  • Sleepiness
  • Discomfort
  • Reduces activity levels
  • Restlessness

The debilitating side effects alone explain why most addicts find withdrawing from crack impossible.

Psychological and Cognitive Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal

The level of pain experienced is not only mental but also emotional and physical. Here are the signs of cocaine withdrawal that you can expect:

  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression/ agitation
  • Lack of motivation
  • Cravings for the stimulant
  • Chronic depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of pleasure
  • Anxiety
  • Sense of suspicion, paranoia, or psychosis
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Negative moods
  • Cognitive impairment

Timeline and Duration of Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

How long do crack withdrawal symptoms last?

It is different for everyone as several factors determine the length of withdrawal, like the user’s weight, medical history, age, and family drug history. However, this crack withdrawal symptoms timeline is typically what most crack cocaine addicts experience:

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

The acute withdrawal symptoms crack cocaine is the first stage. This phase is also known as the crash phase as most people experience the ‘crash’ within a few hours, while for others, it might take a few days. Acute withdrawal symptoms are physical.

Symptoms of a crash include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness

Some people also feel like their skin is crawling. They may also feel intense loneliness. It is best not to leave the person alone at this stage as it makes it harder to cope.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

This is the second stage. It typically occurs three or six months into the withdrawal program. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms are also referred to as PAWS. They can last for a longer period.

The symptoms in this phase are psychological and emotional and may include the following:

  • Difficulty with short-term memory
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Difficulty managing emotions
  • Cravings
  • Impulse control
  • Panic attacks
  • Anhedonia

The same symptoms from the crash intensify and continue for the next few weeks. However, the person will become more irritable, moody, and agitated about recovering and may even start rationalizing crack use.


The last period of withdrawal is also called extinction, as symptoms are few in this stage. However, the person is susceptible to relapses, crack cravings, and the feeling of the high crack gives. The factors influencing this reaction are triggers—people, environment, and stressful social situations.

The speed of the cocaine withdrawal timeline may change based on certain factors. Let’s take a look at these.

Factors Affecting Withdrawal Symptoms


Hormonal changes in women can affect coke withdrawal symptoms. For example, fluctuating hormones could make an addict feel more anxious than another.

Amount of Use

How much dosage does the person usually take? Crack resistance develops from the first use itself. So, the person needs more and more dosage every time.

Usage Period

Duration of addiction also determines how much the person’s brain mechanism has altered—the longer the dependency, the more permanent the change.

Existing Mental or Physical Conditions

If a person has existing medical conditions, their recovery will be very different from a relatively healthy person’s.

Other Substance, Alcohol, or Drug Abuse

There is a high possibility that cocaine addicts abuse other substances too. These dependencies will also affect how long the withdrawal lasts.

As is evident, many factors affect withdrawal symptoms. Please consult a professional by calling us at +1 (844) 552-1475, and offer information freely and honestly to enable them to counsel you accurately. If you require further details, visit our website for more details.

Counseling session for crack cocaine addiction.

Treating Cocaine Addiction

Cocaine withdrawal treatment requires outside intervention. It is not an addiction that a user can overcome by themself because the body has become dependent on crack. The most effective process is detoxification followed by inpatient and outpatient care, rehab, and aftercare. However, since every person’s requirements are different, please consult a licensed medical professional to determine what course of action is best for you or a loved one.

Help and support are not hard to find—you can search for programs that help with crack cocaine addiction or call the Crack Addiction and Abuse Helpline anonymously. You can also contact us at +1 (844) 552-1475 or visit our website for more information.

Treatment for crack dependency includes several therapies and practices. These vary from person to person based on the crack symptoms the user experiences during withdrawal.

Here’s what you can expect:

Behavioral Therapy

The results from behavioral treatment in addiction patients have been promising. Popular treatments under behavioral therapy are:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

At the core, CBT is a mental health improvement therapy. It acts as a support therapy to help with abstinence in the long term. Its purpose is to encourage patients to develop critical thinking skills that will help them cope with triggering situations and thoughts on their own.

Therapy session for crack cocaine addiction.

Contingency Management

Under this approach, patients receive incentives if they can abstain from drug or alcohol use. Their urine tests determine their performance in the abstinence test. The main purpose of such activities is to keep the patients motivated and drug-free. It is useful during the first phase of the treatment.

Contingency management also reduces the occurrence of psychiatric symptoms in patients. For example, symptoms like depression, hostility, emotional distress, etc., are much lower after contingency management.

Rehabilitation for Crack Cocaine Treatment

Rehabilitation can help the patient address the mental and emotional aspects of their addiction. It can help teach the person how to develop and use coping strategies. Like CBT, rehabilitation focuses on teaching users how to prevent their emotions and thoughts from taking over. Such efforts play a critical role in preventing relapses.

The rehabilitation process involves the following:

Evaluation/ Diagnosis

Evaluation involves assessing the patient’s health and medical history. This is important information for doctors as it allows them to design an effective intervention, management, and recovery plan. They will also be able to answer a patient’s questions like, “how long does cocaine withdrawal last?”


Detoxification treatment uses medications to reduce or ease symptoms from crack withdrawal. The treatment takes into account mental strain on the patient and provides appropriate assistance in the form of therapy or counseling. During the detox process, the person’s body is supported through healthy nutritional diets. This is crucial since drug abuse and withdrawal can result in rapid weight loss and malnourishment—both of which can intensify withdrawal symptoms. Balanced nutrition also helps the person’s body and brain heal and kick off its dependency on crack.

You can try a crack detox at home. However, a medical facility is safer as medical staff supervises for emergencies or symptoms management round-the-clock.


This includes individual and group therapies. Art therapy, pet therapy, yoga, and meditation effectively reduce withdrawal symptoms, but only when used along with other rehab activities.


After-care involves re-adjusting to normal life. It is important to get support for this stage as chances of relapse are still high, especially if the patient encounters old triggers.

How Can You Stop Smoking crack?

Is your next thought, ‘How to quit cocaine?’

Tapering-off Approach

What is the purpose of using a tapering-off approach?

We’ve already examined how severe withdrawal symptoms can be for long-term crack users. This is why in extreme cases of dependency, professionals advise ‘phasing out’ the drug in a balanced way.

It works by encouraging the user to reduce their dosage little by little. Alongside, a medical practitioner will supervise for symptoms and emergencies and administer medication to counter these.

Based on how the patient’s body responds to the tapering-off, the practitioner either increases or decreases the dosage of prescribed medications.

Here is a list of medications prescribed when managing coke withdrawal symptoms.


It is useful to treat agitation, anxiety, and hypertension.


It is a narcolepsy medication. Also used to treat recurring use of crack


Disulfiram is a helpful medication that blocks the highs from addiction.


An anticonvulsant medication with positive results in recovery from cocaine and opiate addiction.


A medication for muscle relaxation. It helps reduce cravings.

It is crucial to remember not all medication will benefit all people in the same manner. It is only a medical practitioner’s job to assess and assign medication.

Cold Turkey Approach

The cold turkey approach involves putting an immediate end to drug use. Medications aren’t administered during the cold turkey approach. It is an aggressive strategy to eliminate drugs from one’s life. However, the likelihood of success is difficult to predict.

No medical practitioner will suggest the cold turkey approach for crack addicts as the subsequent craving and health repercussions are too strong to manage.

With help from family, is it safe to withdraw from crack at home?

No. It isn’t.

Often people who try going cold turkey at home end up overdosing or harming themself and others. If you still want to go cold turkey, speak with staff at a medical facility about your preferences. They will be better positioned to guide you on how to stop smoking crack.

Remember that in a medically supervised detox facility, you’ve got licensed doctors and nurses watching your symptoms, ready to handle any emergency or threat to your safety. There is also less risk of relapse.

Final Thoughts

We understand that this is a lot of information to process. If you or one of your loved ones is going through a phase of addiction or withdrawal, don’t lose hope. Find a reliable medical care practitioner and get started with the process.

If you require further guidance or have questions, please consult our professional medical staff by calling us at +1 (844) 552-1475 or visit our website for more information.

Most importantly, always remember that it is never too late to get started on the journey towards a better life. Happy recovery to you!