Whether you use cocaine recreationally or habitually and if your consumption is frequent enough, your body will likely go through withdrawals when you decide to stop. This is one of the main reasons why cocaine addiction is so difficult to break free from.
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. These can vary depending on the length of the addiction, how frequently they use it, 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.
Withdrawal from cocaine can be a daunting and uncomfortable process. When individuals abruptly stop using cocaine, their central nervous system undergoes significant changes, leading to a range of withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, depending on factors such as 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.
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
Other Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Other common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include intense fatigue, anxiety, irritability, restlessness, increased appetite, and vivid nightmares. These symptoms can be overwhelming and may contribute to relapse if not properly managed. It is important to note that cocaine withdrawal symptoms are predominantly psychological, and medical complications are less common compared to withdrawal from other substances such as benzodiazepines or alcohol.
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.
Can Cocaine Withdrawal Be Deadly?
When compared to withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and benzos, cocaine withdrawal is usually much milder.
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.
What is Cocaine Addiction Treatment Like?
Although Cocaine is a very addictive substance, its withdrawal symptoms are milder than other addictive substances. Therefore, effective cocaine addiction treatment requires a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of the disorder. As you enter withdrawal or have been experiencing withdrawal symptoms for an extended period of time, there are several treatment options that can help.
One of the most widely used and evidence-based treatments for cocaine addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). This form of therapy aims to identify and modify maladaptive thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors associated with drug use. CBT equips individuals with coping mechanisms and skills to manage cravings, develop healthier alternatives, and prevent relapse.
In addition to CBT, other behavioral therapies, such as contingency management and motivational interviewing, have shown promising results in the treatment of cocaine addiction. Contingency management involves providing tangible rewards or incentives for drug-free urine samples, reinforcing abstinence, and encouraging positive behavioral changes. Motivational interviewing, on the other hand, helps individuals explore and resolve ambivalence about quitting cocaine, strengthening their commitment to recovery.
For individuals with severe cocaine dependence or for those who require intensive support and cocaine addiction treatment, inpatient treatment or residential drug rehab may be recommended. Inpatient treatment that offers a medical detox and a structured, controlled environment where individuals can undergo detoxification and receive 24/7 medical supervision is the best west to overcome cocaine addiction and other substance abuse. During this period, medical professionals can address any physical health issues that may arise and provide support for managing severe cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxification from cocaine should always be conducted under medical supervision due to potential complications. Healthcare providers can help manage severe withdrawal symptoms, as well as any intense psychological symptoms in a safe environment. Depression, suicidal ideation, or other mental health concerns that may emerge during the withdrawal process. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to alleviate specific symptoms or manage co-occurring mental health disorders that contribute to cocaine use.
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. Cocaine addiction treatment at a medically supervised detox facilities also can provide addiction medicine, which can alleviate a person’s withdrawal symptoms and cocaine cravings tremendously.
While detoxification is an essential first step, long-term recovery from cocaine addiction requires ongoing treatment and support. Patients are highly vulnerable, and many require constant care as they detox because the stimulant withdrawal can be so intense and all-consuming, so it is crucial for individuals to engage in aftercare programs and seek mental health services to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their substance use disorder. Therapy, support groups, and relapse prevention strategies can help individuals maintain abstinence and develop a healthier and more fulfilling life without cocaine.
After detox and in-patient treatment programs for cocaine addiction treatment, many individuals opt to receive outpatient care to help manage their recovery and ensure they avoid relapse.
Outpatient treatment programs usually involve therapy sessions once or twice a week and can include support groups and other forms of treatment that will support patients throughout cocaine addiction 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. The
Experiencing rehab and recovery with other people who are struggling and have struggled with cocaine addiction and cocaine dependence can be a very empowering experience and can even reduce the likelihood of relapse for many individuals.
If you need help with your cocaine addiction, Clear Behavioral Health 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 Behavioral Health are here to help.
When the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are too much to bear, cocaine addiction treatment at a designated cocaine detox center is likely your best choice in recovery from drug addiction and substance abuse. At Clear Behavioral Health, 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.