Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms & Detox

Cocaine is such a high-energy, powerful stimulant that even a one-night session of use can leave the user feeling depleted and excessively tired. This is known as a “cocaine crash”, and it is one of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. The longer and heavier the use, the harder the crash when the drug wears off. Most habitual cocaine users have difficulty getting off the drug without intensive cocaine detox. 

More About Cocaine Abuse

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

The first symptoms appear within 20 minuteness to an hour after use and include an intense craving for more coke, excitable behavior, restlessness, and jaw clenching. If no more cocaine is used, the symptoms for the casual user will increase in intensity and duration, the length of which depends on the length and severity of the dependence. This is usually followed by a crash.

Regular use of cocaine builds a tolerance that leads to dependency and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can occur after the first use of cocaine, which makes many continue to use until the crash occurs.

When experiencing a cocaine crash, the user will feel:

  • Exhaustion and depleted
  • Fear, anxiety, and panic
  • An uncontrollable urge to eat and sleep
  • Depression
  • Irritable
  • Decreased cravings for the drug

Once the initial crash passes, the real withdrawal symptoms appear. All of these feelings and symptoms are multiplied with heavy or ongoing, long-term cocaine abuse. The signs of withdrawal tend to be more psychological with cocaine than other drugs but begin with physical dependence that lowers the brain’s ability to regulate stress and feelings of pleasure.

Major withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slowed reactions and ability to process information
  • Vivid dreams or night terrors
  • Periods of restlessness and exhaustion
  • Muscle and nerve pain
  • Increased appetite
  • Mounting cravings for cocaine
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Irritability and outbursts of anger
  • Psychomotor agitation

One of the more serious and prevalent withdrawal symptoms from cocaine use is severe depression and suicidal behavior. Cocaine abusers are slightly more susceptible to this due to the way chronic cocaine use affects the brain’s dopamine production. This makes prompt medical assistance and supervision imperative, especially in the first phase of recovery.

If someone is serious about overcoming cocaine addiction, supervised cocaine detox is the way to go. Intensive inpatient therapy provides medical assistance to manage discomfort and anxiety while the body and brain are cleansed from the drug. This is followed by intensive therapy and other measures indicated during the initial patient assessment and follow-up evaluations.

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How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Every person experiences recovery in their own unique way, but there is a general cocaine withdrawal timeline that’s fairly typical among most habitual cocaine users. Physical withdrawal can be accomplished within a few days, but the psychological dependence can stay around for years.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Because the drug spends such a short time in the system, cocaine withdrawal is fast and intense. It can begin as soon as 30 minutes after ceasing use. The short half-life of cocaine means that it is depleted in the system within 90 minutes. For lasting recovery, medical detox and residential program with aftercare are recommended.

Withdrawal happens in three phases, beginning with the crash, and then moving on through craving and extinction. The length and intensity of each phase depend on the amount taken, the purity and strength if the batch, length of addiction, and the physiology of the user. Concurrent diagnosis of additional health or mental health problems also affects the course of rehabilitation.

The Cocaine Detox Process

Many substance users try to go the ‘cold turkey” route at some point or another as they become serious about recovery. However, the intensity of cocaine withdrawal symptoms makes relapse inevitable without assistance. Rehabilitation professionals know how to detox from cocaine safely. Recovery should combine medical supervision to address the physical and mental health symptoms and therapy to root out the underlying conditions that led to addiction. Some users can go years without touching cocaine before a sudden craving appears. Support after official release from a detox program provides the ongoing support necessary for comprehensive, long-term recovery from cocaine addiction.

Drugs Used to Manage Cocaine Withdrawal

There is no standard, FDA-approved drug that’s used for cocaine detox. Most programs provide over-the-counter, non-narcotic medications to deal with physical pain and ease discomfort. Psychological symptoms like anxiety and depressions are dealt with separately. Benzodiazepines can be used to manage anxiety. A drug called propranolol is showing promise for patients who need emotional stability.

The severe depression and suicidal behavior are a direct result of artificial dopamine levels created while using cocaine. After detox, there’s a sudden and drastic drop that makes it difficult to cope. Depression is treated with a combination of traditional medicine, therapy, and holistic healing as part of the second phase of treatment.

Recovery is a life-long process, but it’s possible with professional assistance. There are many public and privately owned rehab centers that can help even long-term, heavy users get clean.

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Do you have questions about cocaine withdrawal or detox options? Call us at  1-866-957-4960 or fill out the form below and our admissions coordinators will answer any question that you may have about treatment options available to you.

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