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Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment

Kristen Fuller, MD
Kristen Fuller, MD
Kristen Fuller, MD, enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies in educating the public on the stigma associated with mental health. Dr. Fuller is also an outdoor activist, an avid photographer, and is the founder of an outdoor women's blog titled, GoldenStateofMinds. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiing, camping, and paddle boarding with her dogs in Mammoth Lakes, California where she calls home.
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Though cocaine withdrawal may not be as physically intense as withdrawal from other drugs, it does come with its own set of challenges. Cocaine withdrawal can begin within hours after the last dose, and withdrawal symptoms can last for weeks.1

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from certain substances, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, can involve severe physical withdrawal symptoms; however, cocaine detox brings mostly psychological withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:1-4

  • Depression.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Slowed thinking and movement.
  • Fatigue.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Restlessness.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Unpleasant dreams or nightmares.
  • Hypersomnia (inability to stay awake during the day despite getting sufficient sleep) or insomnia.
  • Paranoia.
  • Increased appetite.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Individuals who chronically use cocaine on a regular basis report the following cocaine withdrawal timeline. Symptoms associated with acute cocaine withdrawal beginning within 1-2 days after the last dose, a crash that lasts for several days and withdrawal symptoms that persist for 1-2 weeks.5 However, like with other stimulant drugs, cravings for cocaine may be triggered by cues—drug paraphernalia, moods, friends who use substances, locations where the substance was used—later, creating an intense desire for the substance and the potential for relapse. In fact, high relapse rates are common in people with stimulant use disorders, even after treatment.5

Cocaine Withdrawal Risk Factors

As previously mentioned, people with significant cocaine dependence may experience withdrawal symptoms beginning within 1-2 days after the last dose.5

Just as with other substances, the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms are dependent on several factors, including:5-7

  1. Length of use. Individuals who have used cocaine for years may continue to suffer lingering withdrawal symptoms for longer periods.
  2. Amount of cocaine used. People who’ve used very large amounts may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms.
  3. Polysubstance use. Research indicates that the use of multiple substances, which is prevalent among cocaine users—one study found that 93.7% of the nearly 3,000 cocaine users also used other substances—can lead to more severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
  4. Co-occurring medical or mental health issues: If an individual suffers from any co-occurring medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or mental health issues, such as depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or schizophrenia, the withdrawal process from cocaine may be more complicated.

Learn more about cocaine withdrawal in our video below.

Causes of Cocaine Withdrawal

Similar to other drugs, repeated use of cocaine can cause long-term changes in the brain’s reward circuit system, which can lead to addiction.6 That’s because cocaine increases the levels of the brain’s natural chemical messenger, dopamine by disrupting its path, and flooding the brain’s reward circuit with dopamine, which contributes to cocaine’s pleasurable effects.6 The reward circuit eventually adapts to the new levels of dopamine, and individuals take cocaine in larger amounts or more frequently to achieve the desired effect and prevent withdrawal symptoms.6

Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment

While cocaine detox may be completed on an outpatient basis, medical detox is recommended in some instances.8 For example, if a person has relapsed during past withdrawal attempts, the 24-hour supervision afforded by medical detox can prove invaluable. In addition, if the person suffers from any co-occurring mental health disorders, medical detox followed by comprehensive inpatient addiction treatment can effectively address withdrawal management, addiction, and mental health treatment needs.8

Though relatively uncommon among cocaine users, one of the more problematic withdrawal effects associated with acute stimulant withdrawal is a risk of suicide. Though cocaine-induced depression typically subsides quickly (within hours or days), some may develop suicide ideation.5 In fact, one study found that the risk for suicide among women veterans with cocaine use disorder was significantly higher than for male veterans.5

Ways to Get in Contact With Us

If you believe you or someone you love may be struggling with addiction, let us hear your story and help you determine a path to treatment.

There are a variety of confidential, free, and no obligation ways to get in contact with us to learn more about cocaine withdrawal treatment.

Cocaine Withdrawal Medications

Unlike some drugs, such as opioids, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for cocaine withdrawal.7 Other medications to treat depression and anxiety could be useful for people undergoing cocaine withdrawal, as it could stabilize their moods and reduce depression.9 They could be particularly helpful for people whose withdrawal symptoms last longer than 7-10 days. However, medical professionals should consider these cases individually and carefully monitor patients for side effects, further addictive behaviors, and psychological changes that are detrimental to the overall goal of managing the addiction.

Instead, behavioral therapies may be used to treat cocaine addiction during treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), contingency management—which involves rewarding individuals who remain cocaine free—and, mutual-help groups such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA).

If you or someone you love struggles with cocaine addiction and potentially co-occurring mental health disorders, get in contact with us at American Addiction Centers (AAC) and let one of our experienced admission navigators answer your questions about treatment, insurance coverage, and more.

Find Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Centers Near You

Last Updated on June 21, 2022
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Kristen Fuller, MD
Kristen Fuller, MD
Kristen Fuller, MD, enjoys writing about evidence-based topics in the cutting-edge world of mental health and addiction medicine and contributes to medicine board education. Her passion lies in educating the public on the stigma associated with mental health. Dr. Fuller is also an outdoor activist, an avid photographer, and is the founder of an outdoor women's blog titled, GoldenStateofMinds. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, skiing, camping, and paddle boarding with her dogs in Mammoth Lakes, California where she calls home.
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