Cocaine Withdrawal Process & Detox Timeline

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug.1 In 2020, nearly 2% of the country, or an estimated 5.2 million Americans above the age of 12, had used some form of cocaine in the past year.2

People who use cocaine in large amounts for extended periods of time may experience withdrawal when they attempt to stop or reduce their use.3

This article will discuss the withdrawal syndrome associated with cocaine and how to get help if you or someone you love has lost control of their cocaine use.

What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal is a set of symptoms an individual may experience when they attempt to stop or reduce their drug use.

Withdrawal is the result of physiological dependence, or the body’s adaptation to a certain substance.4,5 When a person develops significant levels of drug dependence, they feel like they need the drug to think and function normally.5

Oftentimes, a person will continue to compulsively use cocaine to avoid the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal, which can become a very dangerous and unhealthy pattern.3

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can vary from one person to another.3 Though withdrawal syndrome experiences differ, some of the potential symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:3,6,7

woman sitting on a couch experiencing the symptoms of drug withdrawal

  • Depression or profoundly dysphoric mood.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Paranoia.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Nightmares.
  • Fatigue.
  • Slowed thinking and motor skills.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Cocaine cravings.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

The length of cocaine withdrawal varies depending on several factors discussed below. Generally, cocaine withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after stopping use.3

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal from cocaine typically begins anywhere from a few hours to days after a person’s last use.3

This initial phase is sometimes referred to as a “crash” or cocaine comedown, and is when the more acute symptoms mentioned above may arise. These symptoms usually improve within a few days.3

The acute withdrawal phase may be followed by 1–3 weeks of relatively less severe symptoms. In some cases, protracted withdrawal may last longer and extend beyond the post-acute withdrawal phase.3

What Factors Impact Cocaine Withdrawal Intensity and Timeline?

Several factors may impact the intensity and timeline of cocaine withdrawal. These include:

  • How much and how long a person has been using cocaine.3
  • Method of use (e.g., snorting, smoking, or injecting)3
  • The presence of co-occurring mental health disorders and/or polysubstance use.

Co-occurring mental health conditions, including addiction to other substances in addition to cocaine, can make the withdrawal and treatment process even more complex.3

It can be difficult to determine whether substance use or another underlying mental health disorder is causing certain symptoms, like depression or anxiety, which is why an integrated treatment approach that addresses both conditions at the same time is the recommended standard of care.3

Is Cocaine Withdrawal Dangerous?

Cocaine withdrawal may be uncomfortable, but it isn’t often associated with severe medical risk.7

Some recent cocaine users may be at risk of certain health complications during the acute withdrawal period including:7(80,81)

  • Cardiovascular issues (heart block, arrhythmia, bleeding).
  • Seizures.

A more common concern is the risk of depression that may occur during withdrawal. This can sometimes be severe, agitated, and lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. People who have recently stopped their cocaine use and show signs of a depressed mood should be closely monitored for any potential self-harm behaviors.3

Another concern is that people with an addiction to cocaine are often addicted to other substances, such as alcohol, benzodiazepines, and opioids. These substances are associated with more complex and severe withdrawal syndromes.7

When a person attempts to stop using these substances and cocaine at the same time, they may experience additional withdrawal symptoms that could lead to complications and require medical intervention.3

During withdrawal, there is also an increased risk of relapse, due to the intense drug cravings that arise. These cravings can persist for several weeks or sometimes longer.3

Can You Die From Cocaine Withdrawal?

It is possible to experience medical complications during cocaine withdrawal that could lead to death, but this is very unusual.7 The risks of continued cocaine use are much greater than the risks of cocaine withdrawal.

Support for Cocaine Detox

Often, stimulant-only detox can take place on an outpatient basis; however, inpatient medical detox may benefit those who need consistent supervision, such as those at risk for withdrawal from multiple substances.7

Our medical detox program near Tampa helps ensure patients are as safe and comfortable as possible during the process of withdrawal from cocaine and any other drugs of misuse.

While it can be a helpful first step, detox alone is typically not enough to support a person’s long-term recovery from drug addiction. To sustain recovery over time, individuals need to address the underlying thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that led to substance use.8

This is another key role of a medical detox program—to pave the way for more comprehensive rehab that focuses on these underlying issues.7

Clinical programming may begin during medical detox, as patients in detox are encouraged and often expected to attend group classes and counseling as part of their treatment plans. Once detox is complete, patients typically continue treatment in an inpatient or outpatient rehab program.7 Some patients will not require medical detox at all and may begin treatment in a residential or outpatient rehab program.

What Medications Are Used for Cocaine Detox?

There are currently no medications specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating cocaine withdrawal.3 However, at the discretion of an individual’s treatment team, providers may use certain medications to manage symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal, such as headache and insomnia.7

Should cocaine withdrawal be accompanied by relatively serious medical complications, such as persistent depression and/or cardiovascular issues, medications and additional clinical management may be initiated, as appropriate. Should the patient be withdrawing from any additional drugs, medications may be given to manage the symptoms of those withdrawal syndromes as well.7

How to Get Into Rehab for Cocaine

If you or someone you know is struggling with a cocaine addiction, there are different ways to find treatment and resources on how to help a loved one with addiction.

At River Oaks Treatment Center, we offer multiple types of addiction treatment in a tranquil, healing setting. Our inpatient rehab near Tampa utilizes evidence-based therapies and tailors treatment plans to meet the individual needs of each patient.

To learn more about our programs, paying for rehab, or paying for rehab with health insurance, contact us at . Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to answer any questions and help start the admissions process.

You can also verify your health insurance coverage by filling out this quick and confidential .

Addiction can be devastating, but it is treatable. Take the first step toward recovery by calling us today.


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