Crack cocaine addiction is one of the most dangerous types of substance addiction to beat. The substance is highly potent and a person can become addicted after using the drug only once. Addiction to crack is a physical and psychological dependence on the substance which drives the individual to crave the substance all the time in order to feel normal.
Symptoms experienced from crack cocaine withdrawal are usually very intense and cause unprecedented changes in the central nervous system and brain chemistry. The physical and psychological symptoms of crack withdrawal may differ depending on factors that may differ from one person to the other, these factors include:
- The severity of the addiction
- User tolerance
- History of addiction
- Presence of underlying mental conditions
- Addiction to other substances
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Signs and Symptoms of Crack Cocaine Addictions
- Unable to function in any capacity without the drug
- You have tried to stop using the drug but could not stay away for long
- You isolate yourself when using the drug
- When you experience hallucinations and paranoia
- When you are experiencing financial difficulties due to the continued purchase of crack
- If you love to use the drug but unhappy with what it’s doing to your life
- If you are highly irritable, restless, and discontent when you don’t use the drug
The use of crack cocaine has been closely linked with neurological, cardiovascular, psychiatric, and respiratory health issues as well as extreme dependency. Yet, the number of users continues to increase yearly. This is due to the fact that crack only requires one use in order to get hooked.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
How does crack withdrawal symptoms feel? Why is it so difficult to overcome these symptoms without help? Here are some symptoms of crack withdrawal that are experienced by users in any capacity:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Severe fatigue
- Loss of coordination
- Erratic sleeping habits
- Unstable appetite
- Vivid unpleasant dreams
- Extreme physical cravings
Crack Cocaine Craving Timeline
When does the craving begin after use and when is it likely to end? The craving cycle of crack varies from one individual to the other. The severity of the symptoms may increase and over time.
Phase 1 – at this stage the user may experience a significant increase in appetite and anxiety. They may also experience exhaustion, irritability, and other unpleasant symptoms. At the first stage, the individual typically will not experience cravings for crack. The first stage begins a few hours after the person uses the drug and lasts for a few days.
Phase 2 – the second phase comes with strong cravings, a week after the initial use. Irritability, lethargy, poor coordination, and lack of concentration ensue and may last for as long as 10 weeks.
Phase 3 – the final phase is known as “extinction” and it is characterized by intermittent cravings which are mostly based on physical triggers. This phase may last as long as 28 weeks, depending on the individual.
One of the most recurring questions by those who may not have the financial capacity to seek medical help for crack addiction is usually; can crack addicts treat themselves at home and recover on their own? Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
Can Crack Addicts Recover On Their Own?
Many publications and researchers have suggested that a rehab facility, under special medical conditions, is the best and most effective way to recover from addiction to crack, while some others have suggested that herbal remedies and other forms of natural cleansers are used to cure crack addiction. it may be possible that certain herbs have the ability to revitalize the body and replenish the system of its losses which will certainly help against withdrawal symptoms, however, there has been no existing herbal research to support the theory that herbal remedies directly cure cocaine.
Some natural processes may be effective in reducing the effect of withdrawal symptoms, these include:
Diet – crack addicts are often malnourished and suffer from a depletion of electrolytes due to the loss of appetite. A balanced diet with all the necessary minerals and vitamins may help to restore the brain chemistry causing a reduction in the need to use the drug.
Exercise – regular exercise increases the secretion of dopamine in the brain, a feel-good chemical that causes mild euphoria and relaxation. The increase in endorphins when you exercise is similar to the increase in endorphins when you use crack cocaine. In some cases, exercise is used as a preventive measure for cravings, however, there is a risk of developing exercise addiction which is often a concern for cocaine addicts.
How to Recover From Crack Addiction
Getting off crack is very difficult and often requires various forms of therapy such as pharmaceutical, psychotherapy, and meditation. These therapies are administered by professional counselors and specialists who are well experienced in managing patients with addiction to crack. It is imperative that one seeks the help of a professional when trying to get off crack. People make mistakes that may lead to relapse and in many cases cost them their lives.
Quitting crack cold turkey is impossible. This means that a person cannot abruptly quit the use of crack cocaine without the help of a specialist, quitting cold turkey will certainly lead to a relapse, which in many cases lead to overdose and death.
The best way to get off crack is to opt for a rehab program. One could choose an inpatient or outpatient program depending on the severity of the addiction. The facility will provide all forms of treatment such as medical detox, 12 step programs, aftercare services, and others to ensure that the addict is fully recovered.
Medication Approved for Crack Recovery
There are no specific FDA-approved medications for the treatment of crack cocaine addiction but there are a few medications that are used explicitly for the reduction of cravings. The most popular medications that are widely used include:
Topiramate – inhibits glutamate neurotransmission and increases GABA activities. This medication has had successes in relapse reduction.
Disulfiram – using this drug helps to decrease euphoria and increases anxiety when a person finds themselves using crack cocaine again; it is a form of relapse prevention regimen.
Baclofen – the popular muscle relaxer creates a decrease in the release of dopamine, which helps to reduce the euphoria induced by crack cocaine; this takes away the “pleasure” from the substance.
Tiagabine – the GABA blocker which is often used in the treatment of seizures has had numerous successes in reducing the chances of relapse in previous crack users.
What To Do If You Need Help Recovering from Crack Addiction
Whether it’s your first time seeking help for addiction to crack cocaine or it’s a case of a relapse, there is always hope. There are numerous ways to get help for your addiction. Here are a few steps you can take today:
- Get involved in sober activities and join recovery communities around you
- Seek counseling from a healthcare professional
- Find a sponsor for a rehab facility where you can undergo an intensive treatment
- Attend 12-step programs at Narcotic Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous
- Avoid triggers such as places, things, or people that may cause you to crave crack
Crack cocaine is highly destructive to the system and leads to thousands of deaths every year. If you or your loved one is struggling with crack cocaine, seek out the help of a medical doctor immediately.