Medically Reviewed

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

Cocaine is a stimulant drug made from a naturally occurring plant alkaloid extracted from the leaves of the coca plant.1 Native to South America, humans have cultivated the coca plant for thousands of years due to its stimulating effects.2

However, only in the last century did people begin to isolate the pure primary psychoactive component, cocaine hydrochloride, from its raw plant extracts to obtain what we now know as cocaine. This purified form of cocaine became an active ingredient in many tonics and elixirs in the early 1900s.2

Cocaine is now a Schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse, though it also has some limited medical applications (with pharmaceutical cocaine).2

Withdrawal can vary in severity between individuals depending on multiple factors. Though in general, stimulant withdrawal syndromes are relatively less severe than those associated with other substances such as alcohol and opioids, withdrawal experiences can vary, and may in some cases necessitate closer medical attention.3

Cocaine is an addictive drug; with repeated cocaine use, someone may develop a physiological dependence and experience an associated withdrawal syndrome if they try to stop using cocaine.

This page will discuss the causes and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, the benefits of seeking medical cocaine detox, and treatment options for stimulant addiction.

American Addiction Centers provides cocaine withdrawal management for people suffering from stimulant use disorders across the entire nation. Call

What are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

Acute cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include:3

  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Slowed thoughts and movements.
  • Fatigue.
  • Changes in sleep patterns (e.g., hypersomnia, or increased sleeping).
  • Increased appetite.
  • Cocaine cravings.
  • Paranoia.

Though stimulant withdrawal does not usually involve severe physical symptoms (nor does it present immediate medical dangers to a patient), some individuals may be at risk for experiencing a significantly debilitating dysphoria (i.e., depression, overwhelmingly negative thoughts and feelings). This profound dysphoric period could, in some cases, be associated with suicidal thoughts or attempts and could also lead to a patient relapsing on cocaine.3

While many of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal begin to resolve within several days after quitting, some people may have a more protracted or prolonged course of withdrawal and continue to experience troublesome withdrawal symptoms for several weeks.3,4 Protracted withdrawal is the presence of substance-specific signs and symptoms of withdrawal that persist well beyond the time frame expected after someone stops using the substance.4

The severity of a person’s withdrawal symptoms can vary widely among individuals. These symptoms are influenced by many factors, such as their age and general health, the amount of cocaine they used, and how long they have been using. Other factors include the route of administration, and whether there were other substances being used along with the cocaine.3

Withdrawal symptoms can be intense to the point they lead people to use again simply to seek relief from the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.4

Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal Management

Though stimulant withdrawal may not always be severe, it can still be unpleasant for someone enduring it – and could also complicate their attempts at early recovery. In such instances, cocaine withdrawal can be effectively managed through professional detox interventions.3

A medically supervised detox protocol allows the body to clear itself of a stimulant while medical professionals monitor withdrawal progress and take any needed action to keep people safe and comfortable in early recovery. There are currently no medications specifically approved for cocaine withdrawal or treatment, certain medications may be used during medical detox to help people manage troublesome cocaine withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia.

Symptoms of stimulant withdrawal are often treated with rest, exercise, and a healthy diet. If someone suffers from severe or persistent depression during their withdrawal period, they may benefit from antidepressant treatment and additional psychiatric attention. During withdrawal from cocaine, someone’s drug cravings will likely be quite intense, and therefore is at a high risk of relapse. Behavioral therapeutic interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, contingency management, and relapse prevention techniques can help address these issues.7

Detox is often the first step in a substance use disorder (SUD) treatment program, but detox itself is not a substitute for more comprehensive rehabilitation. Instead, detox is often the precursor that prepares individuals to safely transition into a level of care that will help them address the behavioral, social, and psychological aspects of their stimulant use disorder.10

Cocaine Withdrawal Medications

No medications currently exist that are proven to effectively manage stimulant withdrawal. Though some researchers have investigated the efficacy of medications such as modafinil and amantadine for their potential benefit in managing cocaine withdrawal, none of these agents are currently FDA-approved for such use.3

However, as part of a withdrawal management program, a patient’s treatment team can administer various medications for symptomatic relief of issues (such as headache and insomnia) to keep the patient comfortable during their early recovery.3

Researchers remain active in the field of pharmacotherapeutic options working to discover how to best treat a variety of substance use disorders, with stimulant use disorders being among these potential targets.

Fostering a patient’s entry into treatment is one of the most valuable aspects of professional withdrawal management, as many people benefit from additional substance use disorder rehabilitation efforts, whether it be residential treatment or outpatient care.3 Continued treatment can provide a person in recovery with more focused behavioral therapy and other psychosocial interventions.3

Left untreated, cocaine addiction can be devastating to a person’s health and wellbeing. However, with proper treatment, people can recover from even severe substance use disorders and cocaine addiction.

There is help available, and you don’t have to recover from cocaine addiction alone. Call or speak to an admissions navigator today and begin getting immediate support for your stimulant recovery.

Find Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Centers Near You

    • Sources:

    1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2021, April 8). Cocaine drug facts.
    2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2022, May 2). What is cocaine?
    3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). TIP 45.
    4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010, July). Protracted withdrawal. Substance abuse treatment advisory, 9(1), 1–7.
    5. Walsh, S. L., Donny, E. C., Nuzzo, P. A., Umbricht, A., & Bigelow, G. E. (2010). Cocaine abuse versus cocaine dependence: cocaine self-administration and pharmacodynamic response in the human laboratory. Drug and alcohol dependence, 106(1), 28–37.
    6. Fox, H. C., Axelrod, S. R., Paliwal, P. J., Sleeper, J., & Sinha, R. (2007). Difficulties in emotion regulation and impulse control during cocaine abstinence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 89, 298–301.
    7. Miller, S. C., Fiellin, D. A., Rosenthal, R. N., & Saitz, R. (2019). The ASAM Principles of Addiction Medicine, Sixth Edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
Last Updated on Sep 13, 2022
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