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Cocaine Withdrawal | Symptoms, Stages, & Detox

Published on January 7, 2021
young man sick experiencing cocaine withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that causes euphoria while enhancing energy and alertness. Regular use of cocaine causes severe changes in brain chemistry that can result in dependence and addiction. 

Your brain adapts to the excessive amount of dopamine produced by cocaine, which results in intense cravings to use. 

It is difficult to overcome cocaine use alone because of withdrawal symptoms that appear shortly after stopping use. Most withdrawal symptoms can last up to ten weeks but cravings may persist for several months.

Seeking professional treatment for cocaine addiction can help you build a solid support system and learn important tools for living a drug-free life. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Stages

Cocaine withdrawal can happen within hours after you stop using and may persist for several months. The acute symptoms of withdrawal range from mild to severe, depending on your health, frequency of use, and how long you used.

First Stage: Cocaine Crash

A common pattern of cocaine abuse is a binge followed by a period of abstinence. During a binge, you may use frequently and at increasingly higher amounts. 

As the high wears off, you can experience a comedown, or crash, characterized by depression and anhedonia (lack of pleasure). 

Symptoms of a cocaine crash include:

  • depression
  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • increased need for sleep
  • increased appetite
  • decreased cravings

Second Stage: Acute Withdrawal

Following cocaine comedown, you may experience acute withdrawal if you don’t resume using. This stage of withdrawal may last anywhere from a week up to ten weeks, depending on how heavily you use. 

Symptoms of acute withdrawal include:

  • intense cravings
  • inability to concentrate
  • mood swings
  • suicidal thoughts
  • lack of energy
  • depression
  • vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • slowed thinking

Third Stage: Post-Acute Withdrawal

Most symptoms of withdrawal will wear off within weeks of stopping. However, intense cravings can occur for several months without appropriate treatment. Memories of past drug use and triggers associated with cocaine abuse can lead to relapse. 

Read more about Cocaine Detection Times & How Long It Stays In Your System

Cocaine Detox

Detox treatment centers are known for managing the physical symptoms of withdrawal when coming off drugs and alcohol. Compared to other substances, like opioids or alcohol, cocaine doesn’t have many physical symptoms of withdrawal. 

However, some people experience suicidal thoughts and other severe psychological symptoms. If you’re addicted to cocaine and want to stop using, a medical detox provides a safe place to recover from drugs. 

You may be given medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and have access to qualified medical professionals. 

Medications Used For Cocaine Addiction

Although there are no FDA approved drugs available to treat cocaine addiction, several drugs are being tested. Some of these medications reduce cravings and others can improve acute symptoms of withdrawal, such as fatigue and irritability. 

Medications that may be used for cocaine addiction include:

  • baclofen (muscle relaxer)
  • topiramate (anticonvulsant)
  • gabapentin (used for nerve pain)
  • disulfiram (used to treat alcoholism)
  • modafinil (used to treat narcolepsy)
  • propranolol (blood pressure medication)

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Programs

Cocaine addiction affects all areas of your life and isn’t easy to overcome alone. Treating addiction requires a change in thinking, behaviors, and lifestyle. You can build a solid foundation for recovery in professional treatment facilities. 

Behavioral therapy

Behavioral therapy can be offered in both inpatient and outpatient programs. This type of treatment helps you identify triggers associated with addiction and how to change negative behavior patterns. 

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), contingency management is a specific form of behavioral therapy proven to be effective in treating cocaine addiction. 

Inpatient Rehab

One of the most effective treatments for addiction is inpatient drug rehab, which provides 24/7 supervision in a structured environment. You may have access to behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, and more. 

If you or a loved one is seeking more information about treatment, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - How Does Cocaine Produce Its Effects?
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) - How Is Cocaine Addiction Treated?
National Library of Medicine - New Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine Dependence
National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Cocaine Withdrawal
The Australian Government Department of Health - The Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome

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