cocaine withdrawal

What Is Cocaine Withdrawal Like?

Cocaine is one of the most addictive substances and those who try to quit often find themselves in the struggle of their life. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are difficult to bear and many people fall back into old habits to ease the effects of trying to quit. 

The good news is, cocaine addiction can be beaten with professional treatment methods and lots of support and determination. 

If you wonder what to expect during cocaine withdrawal, read on to find out more:

The Cocaine Withdrawal “Crash”

One of the most common cocaine withdrawal symptoms is easy to spot. Often referred to as the “cocaine crash”, this withdrawal usually follows a period of heavy usage. Symptoms of this kind of withdrawal include:

  • Onset of depression
  • Depletion
  • Irritability
  • Exhaustion
  • An increased appetite
  • An overwhelming desire to sleep
  • Anxiety

Typical Withdrawal Symptoms

After the crash, a regular cocaine user might start to notice the onset of typical withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms aren’t only physical, they include psychological side effects as well. 

Cocaine withdrawal can last up to 10 weeks in extreme cases. Typical withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • A strong desire to use again
  • Bouts of anger and irritability
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Hyperactivity
  • Erratic sleep patterns
  • Tremors
  • Nightmares
  • Agitation
  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Poor concentration

With the mixture of both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms, users can often feel very desperate to continue using to avoid them. If their home or work environment is also suffering, mental and emotional disorders can develop. In fact, psychiatric disorders are common among regular cocaine users, and those with preexisting mental disorders, such as depression, who begin using will usually find that their mental state becomes worse as a result. 

Those who are heavily addicted to cocaine often go to great lengths to try to obtain more. It’s not uncommon for addicts to get into drug dealing, or other illegal activities such as theft, in an effort to gain more money to fund their drug use.

For the majority of regular cocaine users, the only real solution is to seek help through rehab and detox treatment

Trying to Go “Cold Turkey”

There are some strong opinions about whether or not quitting “cold turkey” is a suitable method. There have been some people who were addicted to cocaine that decided to quit the drug straight up and had some success in doing so. Significant research has been gathered about cocaine withdrawal symptoms, and for most people that try to quit cold-turkey, the symptoms can be so strong, it’s nearly unbearable. 

For those who have been heavy users of the drug, trying to go “cold turkey” can result in violent reactions, so extreme that it can result in a trip to the hospital. 

Experienced rehab specialists will typically recommend that users go with a tapering period where they gradually start taking smaller amounts of the drug to help the body adapt.

This is done with the assistance of medical professionals that oversee the process so that if there are any side effects of complications, help is present. Having a medical professional on hand to administer the drug in a controlled environment will also keep the patient from going out and seeking the drug unsupervised. 

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

There are many factors that come into play when determining how long cocaine withdrawal will last. A person’s genetic disposition, age, overall health both mental and physical and frequency of use will all affect how long it takes to overcome. 

However, extensive research has made it possible to come up with a general cocaine withdrawal timeline that recovering addicts can reference:

The 1st Phase- The Crash

As mentioned above, cocaine users will experience a “crash” soon after they try to stop taking cocaine altogether. This can occur after just one dose of the drug or after a binge. The amount of cocaine taken and the quality of the cocaine will determine the duration and severity of the crash. It can last anywhere from 1 hour up to 40 hours following the last dose. 

During this phase, sleep is hard to come by, but even if the user is able to sleep, they will feel lethargic and unable to focus. 

The 2nd Phase, Week 1-4

The second phase of cocaine withdrawal is where the crash subsides and regular sleep is attainable for a few days. But then the anxiety and the cravings start to set in. It’s typical for recovering addicts to become preoccupied with finding cocaine again.

It’s during this phase where relapse is most likely, and many people who are addicted to cocaine will go through a cycle of succumbing to the temptation to use, trying to stop again, succumbing, and trying to stop. Intervention is usually required to help users past this withdrawal phase for good. 

The 3rd Phase, Week 5 and Onward

If a person is able to make it through the Phase 2 cycle, and can finally stop using, the final withdrawal phase offers some relief. Cravings become less severe overall though there will be moments where intense cravings can take recovering addicts by surprise, usually triggered by emotional or social cues. 

It’s during this phase that recovering addicts need to learn how to master the cravings. With continued medical treatment, counseling, and support, the cocaine habit can be kicked for good.

Patients must be willing to let go of unsupportive relationships and in many cases, a change in environment is necessary. Therapy is beneficial in helping patients deal with traumatic events. An improved mental state can go a long way in keeping a recovering addict from relapsing. 

Find the Best Treatment

Taking on a cocaine withdrawals on your own can be a long and lonely road. With proven addiction treatment methods and the assistance of trained medical professionals, you can kick your cocaine habit for good. 

Let us help you move forward with hope. We’ve helped countless other patients ditch the cocaine and move toward a life of freedom, and we want to do the same for you or your loved one. 

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.