Symptoms of Crack Withdrawal & Crack Withdrawal Timeline - PAX

Crack Withdrawal Timeline and Symptoms

crack withdrawal timeline and symptoms

Crack cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. As a more potent form of cocaine, crack is habit-forming and may produce difficult psychological withdrawal symptoms when drug users try to sober up. This is because crack cocaine changes the brain and body in ways that make a person crave more and more crack. Because of how potent crack is, withdrawal symptoms may be far more intense than those produced by cocaine addiction and withdrawal.

If you or someone you know is addicted to crack cocaine and are considering getting help, you probably have a lot of questions about the treatment process. You may be wondering how long crack withdrawal lasts and what symptoms you will experience. Here is everything you need to know about the crack withdrawal timeline.

Crack Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Crack cocaine is a psychologically and physically addictive drug. As a result, people who are looking to get sober from crack are typically encouraged to attend an inpatient drug rehab program. During inpatient, patients are monitored by medical staff and receive support while detoxing.

Crack withdrawal symptoms can be divided up into two phases: acute withdrawal (the immediate withdrawal symptoms that occur shortly after quitting a drug) and protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS is a term referring to the long-lasting psychological symptoms that may linger for several months after quitting crack.

Symptoms of acute crack withdrawal include:

Symptoms of acute crack withdrawal

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mood swings

Not everyone who gets sober from crack experiences post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Those that do may experience the following symptoms:

Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Shakiness
  • Drug cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Low sex drive
  • Difficulty experiencing pleasure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Emotional outbursts

An addiction treatment program can help individuals with PAWS learn how to manage and cope with their symptoms.

How Long Does Crack Withdrawal Last?

The crack withdrawal timeline varies greatly from one person to the next and depends on several different factors. For example, how long a person has been addicted to crack, their tolerance level, and their individual body chemistry will all affect how long withdrawal lasts.

In general, most people will begin experiencing symptoms anywhere from 30 minutes to three days after their last dose of crack wears off. Then, symptoms may last anywhere from 1 to 3 months.

Any symptoms experienced in the first three weeks are considered acute symptoms while anything after three weeks is considered PAWS. Symptoms of PAWS may last for up to 6 months or more.

Even though the most severe symptoms will generally subside after one week, drug cravings can still occur at any time in the early recovery journey. In order to avoid relapse, particularly during PAWS, it is important to participate in a comprehensive treatment program that teaches patients solutions for long-term sobriety.

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

Crack Withdrawal Timeline

Depending on the severity of a person’s addiction, how long their crack withdrawal symptoms last will vary. However, here is a general timeline of what people can expect.[1]

  • Days 1-3: In the first three days is when most users will experience the worst of their symptoms. Users can expect to have body aches, paranoia, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and cravings.
  • Days 3-7: The first week of withdrawal will consist of symptoms like fatigue, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and depression. Body aches and paranoia, if any, should have passed by this time.
  • Week 2: By the second week, drug cravings and depression may become very intense.
  • Weeks 3-4: Physical symptoms should be over by this time, however, cravings, mood swings, and depression may remain.

The best way to manage these withdrawal symptoms is to go to a crack detox center.

Crack Cocaine Detox

Even though crack withdrawal is mostly psychological, symptoms can vary from one person to the next. Sometimes, crack users will also be addicted to other substances, like heroin or prescription opioids, so they may need additional medical assistance. Whatever the case may be, drug detox centers provide a safe and secure environment in which recovering addicts can begin their sobriety journey.

During detox, physicians may prescribe medications to help treat anxiety, high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression. Medications that are commonly prescribed to treat crack cocaine withdrawal include:[2]

  • Clonidine
  • Propranolol
  • Seroquel
  • Trazodone
  • Valium
  • Gabapentin
  • Topiramate

Drug detox centers will also work with patients to help them develop a treatment plan for after detox. This may consist of inpatient rehab, outpatient treatment, and/or sober living.

Find Addiction Treatment Today

If you suffer from crack addiction, you need more than just a detox program to help you stay sober. The therapies offered and relationships formed during rehab are what will allow you to avoid relapse and going into withdrawal again.

At PAX Riverbend, we aim to provide quality care to each and every one of our patients. Our doctors and therapists are leading experts in substance abuse management and they will equip you with the tools needed to overcome addiction and live sober.

To find a treatment program near you or to learn more about the crack detox process, give us a call today.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.