Whether you use cocaine recreationally or habitually, if your consumption is frequent enough, when you decide to stop, your body will likely go through withdrawals.
The severity of cocaine withdrawal depends on how often you use cocaine, the frequency with which it’s used, and your body’s physical dependency on the drug.
In this post, we will detail the various cocaine withdrawal symptoms that people experience, along with the risk factors of withdrawal and the help individuals can receive as they enter detox, inpatient, and outpatient treatment programs to attempt to quit using cocaine permanently.
What Does Cocaine Use Look Like?
There are a few indications of cocaine use disorder that are important to watch out for if you think a family member or friend is struggling with cocaine abuse or other forms of drug abuse. These can vary depending on the length of the addiction, how frequently they use, and how physically dependent on cocaine they are.
According to the American Addiction Centers, the signs and symptoms of cocaine addiction include the following:
- Euphoria, an increase in energy, and alertness
- Mild anxiety and depressive symptoms
- Unusual, risky behaviors, including unsafe sexual encounters or violent behavior
- Mood swings, paranoia, irritability
- Restlessness, excited speech
- Dilated pupils, loss of sense of smell
- Withdrawal from their social circle or family
What Causes Cocaine Withdrawal?
As a person becomes dependent on cocaine use for daily functions, their body builds a tolerance over time. Soon, more and more cocaine is required to achieve the euphoric and stimulating effects. When an individual decides to stop using cocaine, their body starts to go into withdrawal, even if the drug is still in their bloodstream.
Because cocaine is a stimulant, once the drug is gone from one’s system, a cocaine “crash” often occurs as the body tries to readjust.
A cocaine crash is common, typically within 24 hours of stopping use. A person will experience a strong craving for the drug, along with other uncomfortable symptoms and side effects that can be uncomfortable.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal show up in various ways and can cause mild to severe discomfort for the individuals experiencing it.
Cravings are the most common and often the most severe withdrawal symptom of crack cocaine. People crave not only the psychological feeling of euphoria but also the physical feeling of increased energy, improved self-esteem, and weight loss.
Cocaine is highly addictive because of its potency and what it does to dopamine in the brain. The drug “prevents dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with elevated mood, pleasure, and excitement,” from reabsorbing into the body. Instead, it stays in the brain and causes the feeling of intense happiness and euphoria.
The body begins to crave those feelings of happiness again as they are nearly impossible to replicate without cocaine use (or other drugs). Cocaine cravings are intense, and addiction treatment is usually the best path forward for those struggling with a cocaine use disorder if they can not manage the cravings and withdrawal symptoms on their own.
The cocaine crash we mentioned earlier is known to bring on depression and depressive symptoms, particularly in those with severe substance abuse.
Once the cocaine dissipates from your system and dopamine is absorbed, depression and fatigue often appear because the brain is too overworked to create more on its own. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms will start to show at this point, as the brain can’t reproduce dopamine to the same effect that it can with cocaine in your system.
Cravings and depression are the most significant symptoms that most people experience when going through cocaine withdrawal. Some other common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Problems with memory
- Intense cravings for the drug
- Increased appetite
- Dehydration and excessive thirst
- Trouble sleeping and fatigue
- Difficult feeling pleasure or happiness
Can Cocaine Withdrawal Cause Permanent Damage?
When compared to withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and opioids, cocaine withdrawal is usually more mild discomfort.
Withdrawal from drug abuse can be uncomfortable and distressing and often causes dysphoria, a feeling of intense depression that is often accompanied by negative thoughts and feelings. Dysphoria can be dangerous, particularly for any individuals experiencing cocaine withdrawal, as they can have thoughts of suicide if their anxiety or depressive symptoms are bad enough.
Withdrawal of any kind is uncomfortable and distressing. If possible, it is always better to be done under the supervision of medical professionals, particularly if the individual has suicidal thoughts or is talking about suicide in any capacity. Withdrawal from some forms of drug abuse has the potential to be deadly. It’s always best to withdraw at an addiction treatment center.
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
Cocaine withdrawal usually begins a few hours after the individual’s last use of cocaine, known as acute withdrawal. It can last anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks up to several months.
As a stimulant, the longer-lasting withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, poor sleep, and lingering cravings for cocaine. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms can plague individuals with a cocaine addiction for several weeks or even months.
The longer a person’s cocaine detox symptoms last, the larger the risk that an individual will relapse and use cocaine or other drugs to alleviate their discomfort and pain. This is another reason why withdrawing from a stimulant drug in an addiction treatment center is highly recommended.
Co-Occurring Disorders with Substance Use and Cocaine Addiction
For some who struggle with substance abuse and cocaine use, their addiction co-occurs with a mental illness or condition like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol abuse.
Living with a mental illness puts people at a greater risk for substance abuse and addiction, as they use drugs and alcohol to cope with their mental health condition. It’s common for individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders to have co-occurring substance use disorders.
Treatment Options for Cocaine Withdrawal
As you enter withdrawal or have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms for an extended period of time, there are several treatment options that can help.
Cocaine detox is best done in a medical setting, where healthcare providers can help manage severe symptoms, as well as any intense psychological symptoms, in a safe environment. Quitting cocaine can be physically and psychologically taxing, and some people are at a high risk of relapse, especially if they choose to detox at home. Medically supervised detox facilities also can provide addiction medicine, which can alleviate a person’s withdrawal symptoms and cocaine cravings tremendously.
Patients are highly vulnerable, and many require constant care as they detox because the stimulant withdrawal can be so intense and all-consuming.
Cocaine addiction can be dangerous and life-threatening, but with proper treatment, recovery is possible.
Inpatient treatment programs are a successful option for many who are struggling with drug abuse. Inpatient rehabilitation programs last anywhere from a few weeks up to 90 days. In treatment, patients will receive counseling, gain coping skills through various therapy modalities, and attend group therapy sessions.
Many individuals opt to receive outpatient care to help manage their recovery and ensure they avoid relapse.
Outpatient treatment programs typically involve therapy sessions once or twice a week and can include support groups and other forms of treatment that will support patients throughout recovery. Many individuals who have completed in-patient treatment choose to join the facility’s outpatient program to stay in touch with the community they found in rehab.
Experiencing rehab and recovery with other people can be a very empowering experience and can even reduce the likelihood of relapse for many individuals.
Get Help With Your Cocaine Addiction. Clear Recovery Center Can Help.
Taking the first step in seeking treatment for cocaine abuse can change the trajectory of your entire life. If you abuse cocaine and your cocaine addiction is affecting your quality of life, the experts at Clear Recovery Center are here to help.
When the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are too much to bear, medical attention is likely your best choice in recovery. At Clear Recovery Center, our team of experts is highly trained in medical detoxification and can help you safely manage symptoms of cocaine withdrawal in a safe space. Our detox program offers patients around-the-clock care and individualized treatment that will help them get sober, avoid relapse, and get on a path to recovery.
Last Updated on January 19, 2023