How is Crack Cocaine Addiction Treated?

Kerry Nenn
Calendar icon Last Updated: 12/26/2023
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Highly addictive and extremely popular, crack cocaine is a widely abused drug in the United States. Due to its prevalence, the need for crack-specific drug rehab programs has developed.

Crack is a form of cocaine, making it a central nervous system stimulant. It is made by combining cocaine with water and baking soda or ammonia (freebase), then heated to take out the hydrochloride. What’s left are small “rocks” that can be smoked. Crack rocks can range in color from white to a pale shade of tan.

Information About Crack Cocaine Abuse

Crack gets its name from the crackling sounds it makes as someone smokes a rock. Smoking crack cocaine causes the drug to be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and triggers a euphoric dopamine release in the brain, meaning the results can be felt almost immediately.

A complicated problem with this drug, however, is that the effects are extremely short-lived. In fact, a crack high lasts only about five or ten minutes. That’s why people who are addicted to it tend to go on binge sessions in an  attempt to maintain their high for as long as possible.

With continued use, crack eventually causes the brain to adapt and become less sensitive to the stimulant drug, resulting in higher and higher tolerance levels. As with all addictions, it’s the tolerance levels that lead people to use crack more often and in greater amounts.

Over time, people no longer recognize the negative consequences related to their misuse and as a result, experience poor decision making, which may contribute to the development of addiction.

Crack Cocaine Detox

Treatment for crack addiction starts with detox. The withdrawal symptoms can be severe, so this usually occurs at a detox facility where doctors can monitor your process. When done in a controlled environment, it helps safely cleanse the drug from the user’s body. This helps them get through the difficult stage of depression that follows crack abuse.

One of the reasons crack addiction is so hard to overcome is the intense “come-down” from the high. Because crack interferes with the brain reward system, these withdrawal symptoms can be particularly depressing.

Crack withdrawal is marked by intense  physical cravings and psychological symptoms. The symptoms may last anywhere from several days to several months. For most people, the acute – or really intense – phase of withdrawal lasts up to seven days, while the post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) can last for months.

How long your symptoms last will depend on how often you used crack, how long you used, how much you used, if you used other drugs with crack, your medical history, and several other factors. People who abused the stimulant in large amounts over a extended periods of time tend to be the ones who experience the most intense withdrawal symptoms.

Crack Cocaine Rehab Treatment

Residential drug rehab programs require you to live at a rehab center while receiving treatment. Typical residential programs last between one month and one year, depending on your needs. While at the facility, you’ll receive both individual and group therapy.

Therapy methods usually include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational therapy. CBT addresses errors in thinking and resulting behaviors that lead to drug use. The goal of motivational therapy is to incentivize patients to refrain from cocaine use.

12-step programs are often part of the overall rehab program. Support groups such as Cocaine Anonymous are available for those in recovery and their loved ones..

Pen iconAuthor
Kerry Nenn
Kerry Nenn, BSW
Expert Author, Editor
Kerry is a full-time freelance writer and author whose work has received awards both locally and nationally. Based in the Chicago area, she holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and psychology (BSW) from Evangel University. Kerry is a regular contributor to international newsletter publications, industry-leading consumer blogs, and Christian ministries.