Crack addiction can be terrifying. It is one of the most addictive substances known to man, and it quickly traps users. It is a huge problem in New Jersey, with 3587 people seeking treatment for it in 2016. As only a small percentage of those who suffer from addiction receive treatment, this number is likely to be many times larger.

Crack is a smokable version of powder cocaine. It reaches the brain within 10 seconds of smoking it and delivers an intense high. However, these effects are short-lived and wear off after around 15 minutes. This powerful effect and short high are what makes crack cocaine so addictive. This can be an expensive habit, with users spending hundreds of dollars a day.

Crack cocaine is both physically and mentally addictive. This can start after just one use and can have very destructive effects on users and their loved ones’ lives. However, it is possible to recover from crack addiction.

The first phase of this is detox. This is very hard to do without support. Most of our clients have attempted this alone multiple times before reaching out to us for professional help. At the Excel Center, we understand addiction, and we know that small setbacks like this don’t equal permanent failure.

Asking for help with crack cocaine addiction is one of the bravest and kindest things that someone can do for themselves. We believe that each one of our clients has the potential to recover and to regain control of their lives. We know they can – we’ve seen it happen hundreds of times.

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Crack Cocaine Addiction

Crack cocaine has a powerful effect on brain chemistry. It stimulates the part of our brain which produces dopamine – our ‘pleasure’ chemical. Our dopamine system is our natural reward system – it tells us that we are doing something which helps us. Natural levels of dopamine are released when doing activities like exercising, socializing, or eating.

Crack cocaine causes the brain to release unnatural amounts of dopamine and stops it from reabsorbing it. This gives users an intense ‘rush’ of euphoria, as the crack has tricked the brain into thinking it is doing something good.

This rush is followed by a ‘low’ feeling, as the brain’s dopamine levels have been depleted. Users feel twitchy, depressed, and usually have a strong urge to use crack again. This is the start of an addiction.

With time, users need increasing amounts of crack for the same effects. The brain’s natural dopamine production is reduced. This means that users will feel depressed and low until they can next use crack.

Crack cocaine addiction also affects the areas of the brain responsible for decision making. This can diminish the user’s power of choice. It is common for crack cocaine users to want to quit, but feel unable to do so. This isn’t a weakness. Addiction is a medically recognized condition, which requires treatment. The first step in this process is supervised detox.

Crack Cocaine Detox

The low period following crack use feels awful. In the same way that our brains change as they get used to crack being in the bloodstream, it must adapt to not having it. This can be very uncomfortable for users to experience, and trying to do it alone can be overwhelming.

Crack detox has both mental and physical symptoms. Because of the severity of these, it is advisable to do this in a clinical detox setting. This ensures that the user will be supported during the first stage of their recovery.

Our detox team is well equipped to help people through all phases of the crack cocaine detox. Although doing it alone can be very difficult, it is made much more comfortable with the correct medical supervision.

Physical Symptoms of Crack Detox

Crack has a strong effect on the body. It stimulates our central nervous system and makes us feel energetic and confident for a short period of time. Withdrawal symptoms can be thought of as the opposite effects to crack.

Some of the physical symptoms of crack withdrawal are:

  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Twitchiness
  • Shaking
  • Muscle spasms
  • Disrupted heart rate
  • High blood pressure

Although physical crack detox doesn’t make the users violently sick like heroin or alcohol, the physical side effects can still be very upsetting for users. However, most of these can be treated.

Mental Symptoms of Crack Detox

Because the effects of crack are primarily mental, this is where most of the withdrawal takes place. These symptoms can present differently in different people. They depend on how much crack the person used regularly, how often they used it, and their metabolism.

During our assessment process, you will be given the opportunity to share your drug history with one of our detox team. This helps us to tailor the detox program to make it as comfortable as possible for you. All the information you give us will be strictly confidential and will only be used to help you.

Some of the mental symptoms of crack detox include:

Many of the mental crack withdrawal symptoms mimic mental health conditions. This is where it is necessary to have clinical experts on hand to deliver a comprehensive diagnosis. It is not uncommon for people with mental health conditions to also use crack as a means of coping. Our team will continuously monitor the clients to ensure that they are receiving treatment for the right thing.

Crack Detox Timeline

Crack detox can be broken up into two stages – acute and post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS. Most users should have finished the acute phase within two to three weeks, although acute symptoms can persist for months after.

During the first 72 hours of detox, users will experience most mental and physical symptoms. Paranoia may start to set in, and users will experience intense cravings to use. If someone is to develop psychosis or hallucinations during withdrawal, it will usually happen during this period.

The physical symptoms should subside after a week. Unfortunately, the mental side effects, particularly depression, will still be present. Users will feel extremely tired, will have trouble sleeping, and everyday tasks can seem overwhelming.

In the first three weeks of detox, the drug cravings will still be very severe. This is because the brain is not used to producing dopamine without crack – this process can take months to get back to baseline

Medication for Crack Detox

Many medications can be used to make the crack detox more bearable. These can treat both the physical and mental side effects of the withdrawal. If it is found that a client has an underlying mental health condition, then they may be prescribed psychiatric medication long-term.

Drugs that can help the detox process are:

  • Clonidine – this helps regulate blood pressure and anxiety
  • Gabapentin – this is used to help with anxiety and insomnia
  • Propranolol, Vigabatrin, or Vistaril – these help to reduce anxiety

Often sedative tranquilizers will be used during the first few days of detox to calm users and prevent shaking. Our staff will sometimes prescribe short-term sleep aids to help our clients regain a regular sleeping pattern.


Because of the length of time that PAWS can take, it is advised that clients engage in a recovery program following detox. Returning to everyday life while still experiencing strong cravings to use can put people’s recoveries in jeopardy.

Excel Treatment Center offers a range of programs which are tailored to suit the needs of our clients. We don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ approach – we make our programs fit you. We can help people who want to pursue treatment in an outpatient setting. We can also provide residential accommodation for those who want a complete change of scenery.

Although life without crack cocaine can be daunting, it is possible with the right amount of determination and outside help. We use a variety of different therapies, including group, one-to-one, family, and holistic practices to not only address the root cause of addiction but to provide sustainable coping skills our clients can use for the rest of their lives.

The 12 steps underpin all our practices. This is a spiritual program, which is centered around spiritual development and abstinence from drugs. We know that no one is more critical of substance users than themselves. We treat our clients with gentleness and compassion, and we encourage them to apply that to themselves.

It is possible to make it through the detox process and to recover from crack cocaine addiction, one day at a time.

We do not offer crack detoxification services on-site at the Excel Treatment Center, but we do provide patients with referrals to professional, licensed, and insurance friendly detoxification facilities.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us
for a referral at (973)-989-7500.

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