Crack Cocaine Withdrawal

Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC
Person going through crack withdrawal

The withdrawal effects of crack cocaine are not life threatening, but they can feel that way. Understanding what crack cocaine addicts experience once they begin their recovery can help them through the worst part of their withdrawal.

The Withdrawal Effects of Crack Cocaine

Not everyone will experience all of the following withdrawal effects of crack cocaine. The symptoms an addict experiences have to do with the duration he/she used and the dosage he/she took.

Cravings

This is one of the most difficult withdrawal symptoms an addict experiences. It's what drives many users back to crack. Cravings are both physical and psychological. The body depends on the chemicals in crack cocaine over time. When those chemicals are no longer present, the body sends signals to the brain motivating the addict to use again. Psychologically, an addict believes using the drug is imperative to get through the day and without it, life is not worth living because it's too difficult.

To get through this phase of withdrawal, the user has to wait out the body's urge to resupply the chemicals from the crack cocaine. Psychologically, the addict needs to learn ways to cope with stress and other life issues without turning to cocaine.

Depression

Depression can develop for many reasons. Addicts may feel hopeless without the energy they receive from crack cocaine. A user may also feel lonely and mourn the loss of the drug, much like experiencing the loss of a friend.Depression is also physiological. Chemicals from certain types of drugs can alter the chemicals in your brain and make you much more susceptible to depression symptoms.

Altered Mood

Withdrawal can make someone feel agitated, irritable and restless. Hyperactivity is another common side effect from ending crack cocaine use. Again, these altered moods are rooted in psychological and physiological processes.Psychologically, addicts are used to engaging in drug activity, and they often don't know what to do with themselves without it . Physiologically, the body is coping with the loss of chemicals that were routinely flowing through their blood. While in the process of returning to its neutral state, the body sends signals (resulting in agitation and restlessness) until it understands that it's not going to receive the drug any longer.

Chest Pain

When someone quits using a drug, a stress hormone is released that may cause a phenomenon known as broken heart syndrome. This syndrome is usually marked as having chest pain that resembles a heart attack. During this temporary bodily reaction to stress, the heart enlarges, also known as cardiomyopathy. Since the symptoms of broken heart syndrome are the same as a heart attack, it's important that an addict in recovery seeks medical attention to rule out severe heart complications and receive appropriate treatment.

Mental Disturbances

Some people who withdraw from crack cocaine experience anxiety and/or psychosis. Anxiety over not being able to live without the drug is common and can send someone back to using crack cocaine. Psychosis is much more frightening and can include visual and auditory hallucinations.

Fatigue

As the addict begins to come off the stimulation of the drug and its withdrawal effects, intense fatigue sets in. This can cause the person to feel sluggish and sleep much more than normal. While sleep is often invited to help get through the withdrawal symptoms, many times addicts will feel fatigued as they simultaneously experience insomnia due to their feelings of anxiety, irritability and restlessness.

Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine is one of the most addictive drugs. Recovery can be extremely difficult. If you or your loved one has a crack cocaine addiction, a drug addiction treatment center can help improve the chances of quitting this powerful drug. With careful monitoring of withdrawal symptoms and support through recovery, a drug addict can learn to live life drug free.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal