How Crack Affects the Brain
Crack cocaine, also just referred to as crack, is a very powerful version of cocaine. Crack is a stimulant drug. When someone uses it, it creates a rapid, euphoric high. Crack is typically smoked, although it can be snorted.
When someone uses crack, it affects brain neurotransmitters and releases an unnaturally high amount of dopamine.
Along with being very psychologically addictive, crack also causes physical dependence. When someone is physically dependent, they will require crack detox. People often have questions about how to safely detox from crack, and what the crack detox process is like.This article will answer these most commonly asked questions.
Crack’s Effects on Dopamine
Dopamine is often called a “feel-good” brain chemical because it plays an essential role in pleasure and a person’s sense of well-being. When abnormally large amounts of dopamine are released into their system, the affected person will feel not only the euphoric high but also extremely alert and energetic. For example, people on crack may:
- seem very wakeful
- lose their appetite
- may even demonstrate symptoms similar to psychosis.
There are also long-term effects of crack to be mindful of. When the brain and body are repeatedly exposed to crack, it can damage the natural ability of the brain to transmit dopamine. That can make it difficult for someone to experience pleasure at all without the use of crack. The affected person will therefore continue to binge on crack in order to feel any sense of happiness or pleasure.
Crack and Physical Dependence
Along with psychological side effects of crack use crack can also lead to physical dependence. When someone is dependent on a drug, their brain and body rely on it for a sense of “normal functionality.” When someone stops using crack suddenly, they will often experience withdrawal symptoms.
As the drug leaves the user’s system, the user goes through a process known as “detoxification” (or “detox”), characterized by a period of acute and in some cases extended withdrawal. Detox at home without medical supervision can be medically risky, resulting in unforeseen symptoms and complications.
Medical detox (meaning a detox supervised by medical professionals) is therefore advisable for recovering crack users. Medical detox can:
- help prevent some of the more severe symptoms of crack withdrawal,
- provide an extra layer of medical care and support, should complications arise,
- provide clients with greater peace of mind, so they can focus on the other key aspects of their recovery.
A safe and complete medical detox is always the first necessary step towards recovery from crack.
Crack Detox Side Effects
The severity of crack detox symptoms and crack detox side effects can vary from person to person. The following are some of the crack detox side effects a person may experience:
- Irritability, changes in mood and problems experiencing pleasure
- Fatigue and sleep disturbances
- Increased appetite
- Increased need for sleep
- Drug cravings
- Musculoskeletal pain
- Vivid dreams
- Suicidal thoughts or feelings
The severity of withdrawal symptoms during detox from crack addiction can vary. Some of the factors that play a role in the intensity of detox withdrawal can include:
- How long someone used crack
- How frequently crack was used
- Whether other drugs or substances were used simultaneously
- If there are co-occurring mental health conditions or physical health conditions
When someone is going through crack withdrawal and detox, the symptoms often aren’t as physical as they are with other drugs. Instead, many of the symptoms are primarily mental.
How Long Does Crack Detox Take?
People often wonder how long is crack detox. There’s no clear answer that’s the same for everyone. During detox from crack, symptoms can occur for different lengths of time depending on the individual, the extent of their crack use, and whether or not they go to a crack detox center.
For many people, crack withdrawal symptoms will begin several hours after the last dose of the drug is used. It can take some people days to go through detox and stop experiencing withdrawal symptoms. For other people, it can take weeks or months.
The risk of relapsing during crack withdrawal is very high because of the severity of mental symptoms including cravings. That’s why the supervision and support of a professional detox from crack can be beneficial.
Crack Detox Timeline
The crack withdrawal timeline begins first with a crash. This is unique to only certain drugs. The crash happens as soon as the effects of the drug start to wear off. During the crash phase, people will have symptoms such as increased appetite, fatigue, and irritability.
Once the crash phase of the crack detox timeline comes to an end, most people will then enter the actual withdrawal phase. This can last for several weeks or more and may include cravings, concentration problems, irritability and changes in mood.
Finally, as the withdrawal symptoms start to subside, most people will experience a time where they still have some cravings in certain situations, but these are less intense.
Post-Acute Crack Withdrawal Symptoms
Some people may also experience what are called post-acute withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms are primarily mental and psychological, and they can last for months or more after a person stops using crack. Post-acute symptoms are most likely in people who were severe, long-term users of crack.
Symptoms of post-acute crack withdrawal can include:
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Problems with short-term memory
- Depression and mood changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure)
So, for people wondering how long is crack detox, it can vary. The drug may leave the system of the user very quickly, but the symptoms and effects on the brain and body can persist for quite a bit longer.
How to Detox From Crack
For people looking for answers on how to detox crack out of your system, the best option is to go to a professional crack detox center. There will be a staff of trained professionals who can assess the situation and create a plan of action for each of the stages of crack detox.
During a medical crack detoxification period, patients receive medical monitoring, and if necessary they may receive medications to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. There isn’t one specific medication used for crack detox. Instead, the symptoms of withdrawal can be treated as they arise.
Guidance will Always Be On Hand
For example, some of the crack detox medications that might be given include muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and drugs that can help people with sleeping and eating regularly.
It’s important not to try to detox from crack on your own at home. This reduces the likelihood that you will be successful, and you’re more likely to relapse.
Getting Help to Detox from Crack
To learn more about the crack detox timeline, crack detox medications, and crack detox side effects, contact Amethyst Recovery. We can help you explore options so you can safely detox from crack, and then begin addiction treatment.