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Crack Withdrawal

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Crack withdrawal is one of the most precise indicators of dependency and should be addressed immediately before addiction intensifies. If you or your loved one are experiencing crack withdrawal symptoms, , seek professional help immediately.

How Addictive is Crack?

Crack cocaine is a powerful form of cocaine that can be smoked. Smoking crack delivers higher doses to the brain and produces a more rapid response than cocaine powder. Crack cocaine is highly addictive; once a cocaine addiction is present, the problems stack up exponentially. Around 72 percent of cocaine-related drug treatment admissions are due to crack cocaine. Considering the harmful crack effects, this is very alarming. Treating a crack withdrawaL and addiction may involve crack detox and therapy. Treatment may occur in hospitals, therapeutic communities, or inpatient drug rehab settings.

Can you overdose from smoking crack? Yes. . An unintentional crack overdose can be common and is almost always caused by the urge for a stronger “high”. There are always telling psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes in individualswho smoke crack. This is mainly due to the drug’s fast-acting nature and its effects on brain chemistry and different body organs. One prominent trait in crack users is an abnormal switch from excitement to dullness. After taking the drug for a period of time, the person will begin to lack the will to control their intensely physical and psychological compulsion for more and more hits.

Crack cocaine spikes the chemicals responsible for euphoria and pleasure in the brain and affects the reward system. When these chemicals are spiked, they cause intense “highs” which last for a very short period, usually five to ten minutes. To recreate these feelings as much as possible, users repeatedly consume the drug in higher doses, causing the brain to become dependent on it. Once the brain begins to rely on the presence of crack cocaine, you’ll feel uncomfortable without it, prompting you to compulsively seek out crack cocaine and spend all you have on acquiring it.

crack withdrawal
Crack withdrawal usually occurs in as little as six to eight hours after use and can last for several days, depending upon the severity of the problem. 

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Crack Addiction

Before crack addiction develops, users generally develop a physical dependency on the drug at the outset. The brain becomes physically dependent on the drugs within a short period after first starting crack. Once physical dependency sets in, users begin to experience crack withdrawal effects. With continued drug use, crack withdrawal symptoms worsen and happen more frequently.

Users will experience some crack withdrawal symptoms as soon as the initial high is gone. It is for this reason that cracks addiction is considered high-risk. The crack user will need to use it again to overcome the “let down” of crack withdrawal after a “high”. As with most highly addictive substances, tolerance is built up with each use, and more is needed to achieve the same euphoric state that the user desires.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V), a few criteria that may indicate a generalized crack use disorder (crack addiction) include:

  • Taking crack in more significant amounts or over a more extended period than intended
  • Craving, withdrawal, and tolerance
  • Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to decrease or control crack use
  • Continued crack cocaine use despite social or interpersonal problems associated with its use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the crack effects
  • Recurrent crack cocaine use that results in problems at work, school, or home

If users meet two or more of these criteria, they likely have a crack use disorder and should seek the proper help from a professional.

Effects of Crack Addiction

Crack Overdose

Addiction to this drug may result in an overdose. In general, crack overdose depends on a person’s tolerance to cocaine. Chronic use of cocaine, high levels of tolerance, or addiction, can increase your tolerance to crack. And while it takes a different dose of crack to cause a crack overdose in any person, anything higher than five grams has been proven to cause heart attacks.

Crack Cocaine and The Heart

Crack cocaine use is always potentially deadly. There is a direct connection between the effect of crack cocaine and the heart. The effects of crack cocaine increase your heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. All of these changes strain your cardiovascular system. These effects can cause stroke, seizures, and cardiac arrest. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first time or if you’re young and healthy. You are at risk.

Crack Cocaine and Depression

Crack cocaine can cause damage to mental health. There is a strong link between crack cocaine and depression which appears in the form of mood or emotional disturbances. Because the drug directly interferes with dopamine being reabsorbed by neurons, one of the symptoms of a crack cocaine comedown is severe depression. Addiction to crack is a chronic condition that will be with the user for life if not treated. Addiction recovery is possible.

Crack Cocaine Effects on the Brain

Is crack cocaine a stimulant or a depressant? Crack cocaine is a stimulant. That means it affects the central nervous system. Like other stimulants, crack gives you an energy surge. When you’re using crack, dopamine floods your brain cells, but it doesn’t have anywhere else to go. This excess dopamine blocks your brain cells from communicating with one another and causes your brain to become less sensitive to dopamine. What are the effects of crack cocaine on the brain? Heavy crack cocaine use can lead to seizure disorders and other neurological conditions. Crack cocaine use slows the glucose metabolism in your brain as well. That can cause the neurons in your brain to work more slowly or die off.

Sex and Crack Cocaine

Does crack cocaine cause erectile dysfunction? Sex and cocaine use may be closely linked. Crack cocaine is a potent dopamine agonist, and chronic crack abuse may result in hyperprolactinemia or a dopamine deficiency with sexual dysfunction. Crack cocaine and alcohol often leads to decreased libido and performance. In addition, acetylcholine turnover usually increases when dopamine is depleted. Therefore, cocaine- and alcohol-induced catecholamine depletion may activate acetylcholine, which further contributes to hyperprolactinemia and sexual dysfunction. In addition, abuse of these substances alters serotonin, acetylcholine, hormones, and other neuroendocrine functions.

crack withdrawal
Crack withdrawal should be treated through a quality and compassionate, medically supervised detoxification facility.

Crack Cocaine and Blood Pressure

Is cocaine a blood thinner? Crack stimulates hormones and chemical messengers in the brain that respond to stress and pleasure without gradually returning those chemicals to their normal state. One of these chemicals, called norepinephrine, is a hormone and a messenger affecting heart rate and blood pressure. Recreational cocaine users have been found to have more rigid arteries, thicker heart muscle walls, higher blood pressure, and a 35 higher risk of a hardened aorta than people who have never used the drug.

Crack Cocaine Perforated Septum

Can you snort crack cocaine? While crack cocaine is generally smoked, the short answer to can you snort crack is yes. When crack cocaine is snorted (insufflation), the drug takes much longer to reach the brain and feel the effects. It has to go from the nose to the heart, then to the lungs, back to the heart, then it makes its way to the brain, where the effects are felt. One of the most significant long-term effects of snorting crack cocaine is damage to the nose. A cocaine perforated septum or a “cocaine septum hole” is a condition that is commonly caused by sniffing or snorting cracks through the nose.

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Crack Withdrawal

A person addicted to crack cocaine who has developed a physical and psychological dependence on it may experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms when quitting. During crack cocaine withdrawal, the former crack user will often experience many uncomfortable symptoms, such as paranoia, depression, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, or vivid, unpleasant dreams. The psychological and physical symptoms of crack withdrawal will vary depending on many individual factors, such as the user’s tolerance, metabolism, length of addiction, the severity of addiction, and the presence of underlying mental health conditions or other addictions.

Crack Withdrawal Symptoms

There are two phases of crack withdrawal acute crack withdrawal, which refers to the immediate symptoms, and protracted crack withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which refers to the extended psychological symptoms that may happen weeks or months after stopping use.

Common acute crack withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Unpleasant dreams

Protracted crack withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Anger or emotional outbursts
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation or shaking
  • Cravings

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Once a person stops using crack, there are predictable patterns that characterize the post-cessation period:

0-72 hours

The period between the first hours to three to four days after the last dose is known as the “crash” period and is defined by the presence of symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, sleepiness, and intense cravings. The person may also feel depressed and have suicidal thoughts, so being surrounded by medical professionals and or close friends and family is highly advised.

Weeks 1-2

Compulsive behavior persists in the first two weeks after quitting crack cocaine but decreases as days pass by. During this period, the brain struggles to adjust to the absence of cocaine, and thoughts, behaviors, or smells can trigger severe cravings. As a result, individuals may manifest hostile and impulsive behavior and feel moody and irritated. They could also have problems concentrating, increased appetite, and experience vivid dreams.

Weeks 3-4

This stage is known as the honeymoon phase. Crack cocaine cravings gradually reduce, and mood improves. Individuals feel confident, energetic, and full of optimism. They want to return to everyday life, feeling like they have kicked the habit. However, it has been estimated that two-thirds of relapses in crack cocaine abuse cases take place within three months post-crack detox treatment. Further, the treatment of protracted withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) should not be disregarded as this is another critical point when relapse is very likely. For these reasons, ongoing psychological treatment is crucial after acute crack detox.

crack withdrawal
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Crack Detox 

Clinicians diagnose crack addiction. The diagnostic process could involve:

  • A physical examination
  • A detailed medical history
  • A series of screening questions

The clinician will evaluate whether the person meets the criteria listed for addiction in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a guiding manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. 

Physicians at drug treatment facilities develop crack detox strategies based on the person’s medical history and unique body chemistry. Unlike some other drugs, including prescription anti-anxiety medications, Crack isn’t tapered down during crack detox. Users quit cold turkey under medical supervision, with medications to help counteract uncomfortable crack withdrawal symptoms.

Crack Withdrawal Medication 

Drugs that may be used during Crack detox and what they treat include:

  • Clonidine – High blood pressure and anxiety reduction
  • Gabapentin – Seizures, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, and insomnia
  • Propranolol – Anxiety
  • Trazodone – Sleep
  • Seroquel – Sleep
  • Vigabatrin – Anxiety
  • Vistaril – Anxiety

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Can You Die From Crack Withdrawal? 

Crack is a more concentrated form of cocaine. Because of crack’s potency, withdrawal from it is often more intense. While many symptoms of crack withdrawal may be uncomfortable or bothersome, certain symptoms may become dangerous. This could include:

  • Some people’s mental health may become so compromised by the withdrawal that they become suicidal.
  • People who struggle with psychosis or paranoia may act out, endangering themselves or those around them.
  • Intense cravings could cause a person to relapse, placing them at risk of continued addiction and other long-term effects of crack cocaine use.
  • After a person withdrawals, their tolerance may be lowered, increasing the risk of crack overdose.
  • Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) can cause a person to self-medicate with crack or another drug of use.

To ease these risks, comprehensive treatment should be sought. Inpatient drug rehab addresses the mental and emotional effects of addiction. This focus could teach a person coping and relapse prevention skills that help protect them from these risks.

Crack Withdrawal Treatment 

What are the differences between undergoing a medically supervised detox and crack withdrawal treatment versus col-turkey detox at home?

Since individuals undergoing crack withdrawal may experience painful and possibly dangerous side effects, they are at increased risk of experiencing psychological and physical harm. Moreover, the cravings for crack are persistent and intense. If someone tries to quit cold turkey while at home or unsupervised, they can get hurt. They’re also in an environment where it is too easy to relapse to alleviate their cravings and crack withdrawal symptoms.

People with concurrent drug abuse might start to ramp up their use of other drugs while trying to quit cocaine. They may even abuse alcohol to lessen the side effects of crack withdrawal. If someone has co-occurring mental health conditions or starts to develop depression, they may not have access to the care they need while at home. These risks are significantly reduced if someone attempts to quit crack or cocaine in a medical detox facility. Doctors can prescribe safe and legal medications to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms, and therapists are on-call to handle feelings of depression or thoughts of suicide.

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Treatment for Crack Cocaine Addiction

First and foremost, if you think a loved one is abusing crack, you should research its drug and addiction to understand better what your loved one needs. Next, you must plan an intervention to provide your loved ones with options to battle their addiction in a safe and supportive environment. During this intervention, offer compassion and support instead of judgment. 

Lastly, offer your support throughout the entire treatment process. In addition, crack overdose can have severe physical and psychological effects, so seeking treatment as soon as possible is essential. Inpatient drug rehab offers intensive care that can help you promptly get through the early stages of withdrawal. Since crack is usually smoked, you might want to know, “what does cocaine smell like? We’ve learned how it can be cut with fentanyl and rat poison which can lead to overdose and death, so it is important not to smell or taste it just to test its purity.

Learning how to leave a crack addict is not an easy decision but you must face it once it’s there. Crack effects are devastating not only to the person but also to the whole family. Addiction is a family disease.

Crack Cocaine Detox Treatment

Medical crack detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of crack withdrawal, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to crack use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete crack detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of crack withdrawals.

Psychotherapy 

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of mental health disorders along with addiction, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Solution-focused therapy is an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Drug abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both diseases done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

Take Control of Your Life

Please, do not try to detox on your own. The detox process can be painful and difficult without medical assistance. However, getting through the detox process is crucial for continued treatment. We Level Up provide proper care with round-the-clock medical staff to assist your recovery medically. So, reclaim your life, and call us to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our counselors know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

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Sources:

[1] NIDA – https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
[2] NIDA – https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
[3] What Is Cocaine Made Of? – We Level Up NJ