Cocaine Withdrawal: Timeline and Symptoms
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug with rewarding effects such as euphoria and increased energy and alertness.1 In 2020, around 5.2 million Americans over age 12 had used cocaine within the past year.2 People who compulsively use cocaine may find it additionally challenging to stop due in part to the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms they experience.3
This article will cover what cocaine withdrawal is as well as its symptoms, how long cocaine withdrawal lasts, and treatment options.
What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Withdrawal is one of the risks of cocaine use. Cocaine withdrawal can develop when a person repeatedly uses cocaine over a period of time and then abruptly stops or cuts back. The cocaine withdrawal syndrome can include both physical and psychological symptoms.3
Withdrawal is a sign of dependence, where the body becomes reliant on a drug to function. When a person stops taking the drug or lowers the amount of cocaine used, they may experience withdrawal symptoms as the body adjusts to not having it.3
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine withdrawal can include several uncomfortable physical and psychological/behavioral symptoms. Common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:3
- Profoundly dysphoric mood.
- Depression (that can include suicidal thoughts).
- Sluggish mental or physical energy.
- Slowed movements.
- Increased appetite.
- Persistent drug cravings.
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much.
- Vivid dreams or nightmares.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Memory problems.
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
Exactly how long cocaine withdrawal lasts may vary from person to person depending on patterns of use and other factors. However, withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours to days of last using cocaine. Some people may experience more persistent withdrawal symptoms that continue for weeks or months.3
Some people may experience the cocaine withdrawal timeline over several phases:3,4
- Acute withdrawal or “crash”: The acute withdrawal period may involve the onset of symptoms such as dysphoria and intense cravings. Acute anxiety, agitation, fatigue, and low energy states may also be experienced. Dysphoria can progress into an increasingly severe depression, which can include suicidality, in some instances. People may also experience insomnia despite feeling exhausted. The acute withdrawal phase typically lasts one to two weeks.
- Post-acute withdrawal: This phase can involve exhaustion, excessive sleeping, extreme mood changes, increased appetite, and continued drug cravings. This phase may last two weeks or more after a person last used cocaine.
- Protracted withdrawal: Some people may experience additionally prolonged stimulant withdrawal symptoms involving lingering fatigue, lack of mental and physical energy, anhedonia, and depression that persist for weeks or months beyond the acute withdrawal period. Suicidality may continue to be a cause of concern during this period for certain individuals. People may also continue to experience breakthrough symptoms, including strong drug cravings and psychotic episodes, during this phase.
What Factors Determine the Severity and Length of Withdrawal Symptoms?
The severity and length of cocaine withdrawal can vary depending on several different factors. These factors include:3
- How much cocaine was used.
- How long cocaine was used.
- The route of administration.
Using cocaine in large amounts, frequently, and for a long period of time increases the likelihood of more severe dependence, which can affect cocaine withdrawal time. The various forms and routes of use of cocaine can also influence the addictive potential of a substance as well as the character and severity of certain addiction-related issues such as withdrawal.3
For instance, there is some difference between crack and cocaine in how they affect the body. Withdrawal from crack, a freebase form of cocaine that is smoked, may set in more quickly than that associated with other forms of cocaine use.1,4 Withdrawal from crack can begin within an hour of last use, while other forms of cocaine withdrawal may more commonly arise within a few hours to days of last use.3,4
Do I Need Medical Detox for Cocaine Withdrawal?
Cocaine withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, but some people may experience severe withdrawal symptoms or withdrawal-associated medical issues that could benefit from clinical oversight. One of the more significant stimulant withdrawal-related dangers involves the risk for severe depression and suicidal thoughts, which could necessitate closer clinical attention and treatment intervention, when necessary.3,4
Cocaine related cardiac issues, including arrhythmias and heart attacks, could also complicate the course of cocaine withdrawal. Similarly, seizures may also be a health complication of longstanding stimulant misuse, and could become a complicating factor during cocaine withdrawal.4
Polysubstance use is prevalent amongst people with stimulant use disorders, which could additionally complicate withdrawal management.4
In all of these scenarios, medical detox and clinical withdrawal management can facilitate the close monitoring and treatment needed to keep a person as safe and comfortable in withdrawal as possible.4 Cocaine withdrawal can be unpleasant, but you don’t need to go through it alone. Our medical detox program in Mississippi offers a safe environment for you to start your recovery.
Medications Used During Cocaine Withdrawal to Treat Detox Symptoms
Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications to specifically manage cocaine withdrawal or treat cocaine addiction. However, researchers continue to evaluate potential treatment drugs that have demonstrated promise in reducing cocaine use and treating stimulant withdrawal.4,5
When appropriate, antidepressants and other medications may be prescribed to manage or relieve withdrawal related symptoms such as depression and insomnia.3,4
How Long Is Cocaine Detox Treatment and What Can I Expect?
How long cocaine detox lasts depends on multiple factors. The acute symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can start within hours to days after discontinuing use, lasting for several days before they begin to resolve.3
Patients who experience relatively more persistent or protracted withdrawal may have cocaine withdrawal symptoms that continue for weeks to months.3,6
A supervised medical detox can take place in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. Should inpatient care be appropriate for your needs, you will stay at Oxford’s treatment facility and be monitored by medical professionals 24/7.
It is common to feel tired and unwell during withdrawal, so you will be encouraged to rest. Medical staff will watch your withdrawal symptoms closely, check your vital signs, and prescribe medications if needed.
Upon completion of medical detox, many patients choose to continue treatment by transitioning to an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.
Long-Term Recovery from Cocaine Addiction at Oxford Treatment Center
If you’re looking for personalized outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment in Mississippi, Oxford Treatment Center offers several levels of addiction treatment to accommodate your needs.
We help you work toward long-term recovery using evidence-based therapies for cocaine addiction. Oxford also offers specialized treatment for co-occurring disorders and a treatment program for Veterans and first responders.
After detox is complete, you can transition to inpatient or outpatient rehab to continue your recovery journey:
- Inpatient treatment allows you to stay in the Oxford treatment facility and participate in daily recovery activities. An average day in inpatient rehab consists of group and individual therapy sessions, with time for rest, meals, and recreation.
- Oxford also offers outpatient rehab in Mississippi, where you attend treatment a few days per week while living at home or in a sober living facility.
Evidence-based treatment for cocaine addiction may involve a combination of the following types of therapies:3,5
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): Helps you understand how your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected. Teaches you ways to change negative thoughts and develop coping skills that don’t involve substance use.
- Contingency management (CM): Also called motivational incentives, this type of therapy reinforces recovery by providing rewards for staying sober and attending treatment.
- Motivational Interviewing (MI): By focusing on exploring and resolving ambivalence, you cultivate the motivation to positively change your behavior.
We believe that everyone should have access to quality treatment, which is why we offer a few different ways to pay for rehab at Oxford. Whether you have health insurance or would like to explore our financing options, we’ll help you find the payment solution that’s right for your situation.
We are in-network with several different insurance companies. If you’re interested in paying for rehab with health insurance, our team will be happy to verify your insurance benefits for you. To learn more or start the admissions process, simply fill out the or call our caring admissions navigators at .
Cocaine withdrawal can be difficult but having support during detox can help. Reach out today to learn more about treatment options for cocaine addiction.