Tips for Coping with Crack Withdrawal Symptoms
The good news is the symptoms of crack withdrawal usually do not kill, but they are extremely unpleasant. Many people who are in withdrawal from crack, relapse because the symptoms are so intense. It is a difficult process. Unfortunately, it is also a lengthy process. The cravings for crack do not hit maximum intensity until the second month of withdrawal and it can take up to six months for the cravings for crack to stop completely. There are things that people can do to ease the major symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the cravings.
Recognize the symptoms
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the symptoms of crack withdrawal are the same as the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine. These symptoms are:
- intense cravings,
- extreme fatigue,
- loss of concentration,
- slowed movements or activity,
- lack of pleasure in anything, and
- vivid dreams.
For the most part these symptoms are not life threatening but there is some danger. This danger lies in the possibility of psychosis. Sometimes when the pleasure center of the brain is completely depleted, the lack of pleasurable sensation brings on a psychotic break.
Knowing what is normal and what is not can reduce the feelings of anxiety a person in crack withdrawal experiences. Although each person is different, most of these symptoms are relatively common.
Replace the habit
Many people find relief in replacing the crack habit with a healthy alternative. Some alternatives are:
- chewing gum,
- sucking on hard sugar free candy,
- eating apples or carrot stick, and,
- other crunchy foods.
The craving for sugar will develop. It is important to be careful about what the habit is replaced by. Replacing a bad habit with another bad habit such as cigarettes is not a good thing.
Food is not the only replacement for smoking crack. Some people find that having something like a pen, pencil, or worry stone in their hands helps to alleviate both the cravings and anxiety. A worry stone is a small very smooth flat stone. Many people who are trying to quit something such as crack, cocaine, or other stimulants find rubbing a worry stone soothing.
Exercise is also a great replacement habit. Not only does it help rebuild muscles, it gives the addict a distraction. Because recovering addicts crave sugar, developing a healthy exercise routine helps to avoid weight gain from eating sugary foods. The exercise program should include a solid cardiovascular routine to repair heart and lung damage and strength training to replace muscle lost during the addiction.
Balance your body with good nutrients
Crack depletes the body. In order to manage cravings and replace the nutrients a well balanced diet is essential. Eat a diet that is high in tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine to help with the dopamine and serotonin issues that crack leaves behind. These nutrients can help to lessen cravings and help the body produce these neurotransmitters. Foods such as:
- cottage cheese,
- nuts like walnuts and almonds, and
These are all healthy alternatives to the sugary foods that most addicts crave when in withdrawal. Remember the cravings for crack can last a very long time. It is important to establish a healthy diet right away to promote good habits to replace bad ones.
Drink a lot of water
Many people underestimate the power of water. According to the Mayo Clinic water is essential for good health and dehydration is responsible for many health problems. Most crack addicts remain dehydrated for an extended period of time. Water not only helps with dehydration, it can also help flush the residual crack from the body. In the case of long term crack use, it helps to flush the urinary system and repair the kidneys. Water helps maintain cellular balance, flush the system, and helps provide energy to the muscles. All of these things are needed when withdrawing from crack cocaine.
Keeping busy seems obvious but it is difficult to do. Since one of the symptoms of withdrawal is lack of concentration, it is difficult to stay on task. Keeping the mind occupied is a great way to get through cravings. Almost any activity will do. Many people who are recovering from addiction take up new constructive hobbies, read books, or write in a journal to pass the time. Anything that distracts the addict from the cravings will help.
Use a support system
Never underestimate the power of friends and family during recovery. By reaching out to the community, other recovering addicts, and groups like narcotics anonymous, you can find the support needed to recover from crack addiction. There are many community groups, rehab organizations, and group homes that help to prevent relapse. Although it might not seem like it, having someone around during the most intense cravings can make the difference between recovery and relapse. It is important to know that you are not alone in the recovery and others have gone through what you are going through now. Many rehab centers use mentors and groups to help those in recovery.
Remember that crack cocaine withdrawal is rarely deadly. Unfortunately, it is extremely unpleasant. Many people who stop using crack cocaine relapse because the symptoms of withdrawal are too much to handle. Each person is different but by replacing the habit, balancing out the body, drinking water, finding things to pass the time, and utilizing a support structure it is possible to overcome crack withdrawal symptoms.