Cocaine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, And Treatment

Cocaine addiction produces mental health side effects and physical symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can also affect your behavior. Treatment for cocaine withdrawal syndrome may involve detox programs, therapy, and more.

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When people with a cocaine addiction decide to seek treatment, they will likely have withdrawal symptoms, including cravings and physical symptoms as well.

But cocaine use often happens in a binge cycle. People who use cocaine can experience the beginning of cocaine withdrawal whether they are seeking treatment or not.

This kind of withdrawal often occurs in a timeline known as the ‘binge and crash’ pattern, but it can also occur after detoxing from the drug.

What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal creates mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms that you experience when you stop using cocaine.

Some of the physical symptoms can be severe, but the person withdrawing from cocaine does not experience them in the same way that the person withdrawing from alcohol or heroin does.

This is because cocaine does not lead to chemical dependency as other drugs, such as opioids.

The most severe symptoms of cocaine withdrawal seem to be mental and behavioral, because the person who used cocaine is confronted with the things he or she used cocaine to avoid.

Also, because the stimulant hypes up the person who uses it, they often feel a debilitating need for sleep.

Signs And Symptoms Of Cocaine Withdrawal

The signs and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be physical, mental, or behavioral.

These three categories each have unique symptoms that affect the person undergoing withdrawal syndrome differently.

Physical Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

The biggest physical side effects of cocaine withdrawal happen because the drug has given the person repeated (depending on how long they have binged) bursts of energy that have increased heart rate and blood pressure.

But when they withdraw, the person feels extremely tired and will want nothing more than to sleep.

They also experience general feelings of discomfort along with an increased appetite, which may feel unusual because cocaine is an appetite suppressant.

Mental Signs Of Cocaine Withdrawal

The mental signs of withdrawal from cocaine substance abuse can include many symptoms that you might otherwise associate with poor mental health.

For those withdrawing from cocaine addiction, depression often accompanies fatigue. The person may experience a slowing down of activity that goes along with the depression, as well as growing, generalized anxiety and a lack of pleasure.

The absence of cocaine for the person who is addicted means the absence of confidence and vitality.

Behavioral Symptoms Of Cocaine Withdrawal

The effects of cocaine withdrawal can lead to behavioral symptoms as well.

These symptoms can include:

  • irritability
  • agitation
  • restlessness

When coupled with the overwhelming desire to sleep, the behavioral symptoms often mean that cocaine users find sleep difficult.

They often turn to opioids or alcohol to induce long periods of sleep up to 24 or even 36 hours.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

People with a cocaine addiction may begin withdrawal syndrome after they have run out of the drug. Often, they may avoid the withdrawal process by taking cocaine again.

But if they stop the binge and crash cycle, they can expect to experience the three stages of the cocaine withdrawal timeline.

Binge And Crash Pattern

The binge and crash pattern describes a physical and mental crash due to heavy use of the drug. Two stages follow if you are in the withdrawal process to quit cocaine use. Here is what you can expect.

First Stage: The Crash

The crash occurs after prolonged consumption of cocaine in increasing quantities. It usually sets in about a day or so after the last use of cocaine as your body starts to naturally detox from the drug.

When you crash you tend to experience:

  • increased appetite
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • deep depression

You may experience these symptoms as long as a week after their onset.

Second Stage: Withdrawal Symptoms

The second stage begins about eight days after the last time you took cocaine and goes for much longer, up to 10 weeks in many cases.

During this time you may experience:

  • cravings for the drug
  • mood swings
  • increased anxiety
  • increased depression (including suicidal thoughts)
  • paranoia
  • trouble concentrating

Third Stage: Extinction

The good news is that when you get to the third stage, the symptoms listed above will decrease in their intensity.

The bad news is that the third stage lasts for about six months, during which you will continue to experience a low or depressive mood and continued cocaine cravings.

How Cocaine Withdrawal Is Treated

Unlike alcohol or opioid drug use, there are no medication-assisted treatments (MATs) for cocaine withdrawal, although cocaine detox can happen in an inpatient setting.

This is because, unlike those two drugs, cocaine use does not create physical dependence.

Finding exactly how cocaine interacts with the brain is a subject of ongoing research. Dopamine, which cocaine triggers, plays a big role in why the drug is so addictive.

But much more is known about the psychological profile of those who are addicted to the drug than what drugs can help with treatment.

Treatment Programs For Cocaine Addiction

Nevertheless, there are many providers of inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for cocaine addiction that focus on evidence-based therapy.

This involves the use of different cognitive models that help people with a cocaine addiction deal with the issues of low confidence and self-esteem, issues that usually fuel the addiction.

Find Treatment For Cocaine Abuse At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we make it our job to help you recover from addiction. If you or your loved one has a cocaine drug addiction, we can help you discover the underlying issues that began the problem in the first place.

Call our helpline to learn more about our comprehensive addiction treatment options.

  1. National Center on Biotechnology Information — Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings
  2. National Center on Biotechnology Information — Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders Chapter 2: How Stimulants Affect the Brain and Behavior
  3. National Center on Biotechnology Information — Treatment for Stimulant Use Disorders Chapter 5: Medical Aspects of Stimulant Use Disorders
  4. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine DrugFacts
  5. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Cocaine Research Report
  6. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Cocaine Withdrawal

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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