A Guide to Crack Cocaine Detox & Withdrawal
Crack Cocaine is a free base highly addictive form of cocaine that can be smoked or even used intravenously, the high you experience is very intense but short lived (5-10min), this may cause a cycle of binging and crashing which puts you at a greater risk of dependence. Acknowledging that you have a cocaine use disorder and looking at what treatment options are available to you is a big step, but understanding what a cocaine use disorder is and how recovery will take place is the first step in seeking treatment.
Together we will explore the steps you will be taking through your detox, withdrawal and treatment options for your recovery from crack cocaine.
What is a Crack Cocaine Detox?
The treatment process designed to eliminate crack cocaine toxins from your body safely is called detoxification or detox. Detox is a required step in the treatment of crack cocaine addiction.
Since all drugs leave a residue behind in the fatty tissues of your body which can trigger cravings, a regimented detox programme may be more beneficial to you. Detox requires a complete abstinence from crack cocaine and is designed to give your mind and body a chance to become clear of crack cocaine, so you can focus on learning skills that will enable you to maintain your sobriety.
What is Crack Cocaine Withdrawal?
The withdrawal from crack cocaine causes an imbalance both physically and mentally due to the chemical dependency you have developed. The ensuing withdrawal period may produce symptoms that are psychological as well as physiological.
Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline
Psychological – Over time, crack changes the way neurotransmitters in your brain work, which means that quitting can lead to temporary depression. The change from being in a highly stimulated mental state back to normal can feel unpleasant:
- Difficulty concentrating
Physiological – When you stop using crack, your body can produce moderate to severe symptoms.
- Muscle aches and pains.
Along with these symptoms which can start around the time your next dose was due (if you use 2 x per day your cravings and symptoms could start around 12hrs after your last dose), you can experience cravings that will steadily become more intense for the first 2 – 3 days of detox.
Every user’s journey is different and you could experience all or only some of these symptoms.
In extreme cases you could experience seizures, hallucinations and/or dehydration.
How Long Does Crack Cocaine Stay in Your System?
Crack will have been fully eliminated from your body around day 3, at this point your symptoms may peak before easing. By day 7 the symptoms you have been experiencing will have decreased remarkably but you could still experience cravings for several months.
How to Undergo a Crack Cocaine Detox
Although detoxing from crack is best performed in a medical setting (as part of a crack cocaine rehab programme), crack withdrawal does not necessarily require medical intervention and can be attempted at home, but if you are considering a home detox, contacting a medical treatment centre or trained professional is advisable so that if you require assistance during the first few days it will be available.
Home Crack Cocaine Detox
Ideally, much of the decision-making in selecting an appropriate treatment strategy will be dependent on the recommendations of a physician and/or trained addiction treatment provider, however, factors such as your personal financial and time resource capacity will often determine your choice.
If you have a strong sober support network available at home to assist you through the detox process (first 3 – 7 days), or are feeling worried about taking an extended time away from your family or work, an outpatient, home detox may be your first choice.
The Pros and Cons of Detoxing from Crack Cocaine at Home
- Cheaper than private facilities
- Less time off work
- No need to find childminders or caregivers for your home
- Recovery in a familiar environment.
- No immediate medical assistance
- Higher risk of relapse due to environmental triggers or inadequate social support
Although you may feel you have a safe and stable drug-free home environment with minimal triggers – Detoxing away from home may be necessary in order to remove you from the environment in which you were using crack
Addressing the underlying causes for your addiction through outpatient therapy or through free resources like support groups, community and faith-based programmes are an alternative to private addiction treatment.
Medically Assisted Crack Cocaine Detox
Crack withdrawal, unless extreme, does not necessarily require medical intervention – there is currently no medication to treat crack addiction, only to ease the symptoms of withdrawal – but the actual addiction to crack does require treatment through therapy and relapse prevention to address your need for crack in order to cope with everyday stress, pain or boredom.
A residential program that allows you to leave your daily life and explore the reasons behind your addiction more closely, so that you can get out of unhealthy habits, and be more accountable for staying sober is ideal, especially if you have little family support.
Medically managed crack detoxification can help with:
- Alleviating physical suffering.
- Ensuring your body’s safe transition to a toxin-free state
- Reducing mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
- providing extra nutrients and vitamins to supplement your body
- 24/7 assistance through the detox process as well as supportive care during and after your stay to help you maintain your sobriety.
- Teaching you coping strategies to minimize and manage your cravings
- Keeping you motivated
- Your ability to deal with frustration, anger, boredom, and celebration without needing to get high
- Getting your loved ones involved in family therapy sessions that strengthen the whole family as a tool against relapse
- Introducing you to the 12 steps programme and a community support group
Coping with Crack Cocaine Withdrawal
Although the acute withdrawal phase has a typical duration of 3 – 7 days whilst your body eliminates the toxins from itself, the protracted or long-term phase where symptoms are less intense but still evident, can last months or even years.
Having a structured plan in place to navigate the post-detox phase of your recovery will help in your relapse prevention.
Take Time Off Work
Whether you decide to try detoxing at home or at an inpatient facility, having some time away from work during and after your detox will be beneficial, as initially you may be feeling moody, fatigued and depressed so take some time to take care of yourself as your body and brain heal.
Remove Crack Cocaine Paraphernalia
Staying away from any triggers that may influence your relapse is crucial, start by removing any evidence of your addiction, get rid of any leftover packaging/packets, pipes for smoking, candles etc to limit the need to re-use and relapse
Stay Away from Weekend Benders
Part of your recovery will be to stay away from the environments that were conducive to your using, don’t associate with the ‘friends’ you used to smoke with, the parties or social events where you used crack in the past.
Try and remember what used to bring you joy, try out new hobbies, anything that can keep you occupied and your mind too occupied to think about crack.
Eat Healthy & Exercise
The better you start to feel healthwise, as your body recovers and the more your appearance starts to improve, the better you will feel mentally and consistently choosing healthier options will keep you from relapsing or falling back into unhealthy habits.
Talk to Friends & Family
One of the biggest losses during any addiction is the loss of trust, support and love from family and friends, yet this is the very best support base you can have during your recovery. Nurture those relationships now, show your family and friends that you are consistently committed to your recovery.
Remind Yourself Daily the Reasons You’re Quitting
Keep in mind the reasons that led you to give up crack cocaine and the lifestyle that came with your addiction including the health implications of using crack, the loss of your identity, loved ones and the life you dreamed of having. Keep reminding yourself that you are worthy of a greater life than that afforded by crack.
Ensure you receive adequate sleep to allow your body to recover physically as well as giving yourself a chance to recover mentally from your addiction.
If you are battling to sleep, speak to your treatment centre or medical professional for help.
Treating the Underlying Causes of Crack Cocaine Dependency
The underlying psychological causes for your addiction – childhood trauma, dual diagnosis etc – can be treated with ongoing therapy, either as part of a support group programme (NA or other mutual aid organisations) or a one on one environment with your own psychologist or psychiatrist, or through a residential treatment centre.
Starting with a medically assisted detox in residential rehab is recommended due to the highly addictive properties of crack.
Whilst an inpatient, you will have access to a therapist on a daily or weekly basis where, during these sessions, the therapist will help you look at the nature of your addiction and assess whether pre-existing mental health conditions, hereditary factors, or trauma is contributing to your dependence.
You will also be afforded the opportunity to receive treatment holistically where your treatment plan is developed around you as a whole, with beneficial health-oriented activities incorporated, such as, balanced diets, exercise including yoga, medication, and individualized healthcare that aims to restore your physical, mental, and spiritual connection.
Outpatient services & support groups
Once your initial rehabilitation has been completed you may want to consider becoming involved in a wider outpatient addiction treatment program in conjunction with your preferred treatment plan.
- Individual & group motivational therapy
- Relapse prevention therapy
- Mutual aid such as NA – Narcotics Anonymous (https://ukna.org/) which also offers online meetings.
The NHS has options in every local area that can help you with support during treatment, NHS Choices(https://digital.nhs.uk/) maintains a searchable directory of local free addiction treatment services.
The Frank website (talktofrank.com) is a collaboration between the British Department of Health and Home Office, established in 2003 with the intention of educating teenagers and adolescents about the effects of drugs.
The informative staff on call at the FRANK office can also help with any questions you have regarding treatment support and services to help you. Their number is 0300 123 6600
There is an increasing recognition that drug misuse affects the entire family and the communities in which these families live.
There has been a growth in carer organisations, most notably Adfam and Families Anonymous
The Adfam website (https://adfam.org.uk/help-for-families/useful-organisations) is very useful and has a list of different organisations that you can contact for support for your family through treatment.
Families Anonymous (http://famanon.org.uk/) is a self-help service based on the 12-steps plan and is aimed at helping families affected by drug use and behavioural problems.