The Cocaine Comedown: Binge Use, Withdrawal & Cocaine Recovery Tips
Cocaine is a powerful, addictive stimulant drug manufactured from the coca plant native to South America. It is currently a Schedule II controlled substance because, despite some medical utility, it has a high potential for misuse and may lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.1
People who use cocaine are at risk of experiencing a comedown, or intense effects that are opposite to those the drug causes during the euphoric phase as the drug wears off. Comedowns are like alcohol hangovers for many people, but some symptoms may be very intense and different from alcohol hangovers. People who experience serious symptoms from using cocaine are at risk of bingeing the drug because they may take a lot more of it to offset the comedown symptoms.2
What Are the Effects of Cocaine?
People use cocaine for its stimulating effects like:1
- Elevated mood.
- High physical energy.
- Mental alertness or feeling better able to pay attention.
Less desirable effects of cocaine use include:1
- Extreme irritability or intense mood swings.
- Violence toward others.
- Self-harming behaviors.
- Shakiness or loss of physical control.
- Sensitivity to sensations like light, touch, or sound.
Cocaine Comedown Symptoms
People who use cocaine are at risk of experiencing a comedown as the drug wears off. A cocaine comedown may involve intense effects that are somewhat opposite to those the drug causes during the euphoric phase.
Cocaine use is accompanied by an increase in dopamine activity, which leads to the intensely euphoric effects often reported. As the drug wears off, there is relatively less dopamine active in the brain, and that can lead to the opposite of many of these effects.
Common symptoms of a cocaine comedown include:1,2
- Runny nose: Cocaine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it shrinks the blood vessels. When snorted, the vessels in the nose in particular shrink tight. When the drug wears off, the vessels open wider than they were before, which can lead to feeling congested, or cold or flu-like symptoms appearing.
- Exhaustion but trouble sleeping.
- Foggy or slow thinking: Disruptions in normal neurotransmission can make thinking, remembering, and learning new things very hard.
- Increased appetite: The desire for comfort food or high-fat foods often increases. Stimulants reduce appetite, so people high on cocaine may not eat for hours at a time until the drug wears off or the binge stops. Once appetite returns, it may return in force.
- Aches and pains: This may also be related to specific neurotransmitter disruptions. Physical activity may feel somewhat painful, it may take more time because of slower movements, or it may require much more motivation to get up and move. Physical shaking is also likely.
- Depression: Serotonin and dopamine activity increase throughout the brain when cocaine is present, and when it goes away, these important, mood-related neurotransmitters are depleted.
What Are the Symptoms of a Cocaine Binge?
Cocaine hits the brain very quickly, so effects begin soon after the first dose is consumed. Because the drug is metabolized rapidly, the effects wear off in about an hour, which may trigger immediate comedown symptoms. This, in turn, may trigger a binge as the person takes too much to avoid depression or feeling sluggish.3
A cocaine binge may include symptoms like:3
- Panic attacks.
- Lack of sleep.
- Increased irritability.
- Intense paranoia.
- Delusions and paranoia.
- Break from reality.
Cocaine Withdrawal Risks
Although some of the symptoms of a cocaine comedown are like those of cocaine withdrawal, these experiences are a little different. While a subjective comedown may be experienced even in first-time users, the cocaine withdrawal syndrome may be more problematic. People who develop significant physiological dependence on cocaine from consistent use are at risk of experiencing withdrawal.
Cocaine withdrawal may include:1
- Extreme depression.
- Agitation or restlessness.
- Fatigue or exhaustion.
- General physical discomfort.
- Increased appetite and binge eating.
- Unpleasant or vivid dreams, nightmares, or other sleep disturbances.
- Slowing of physical and mental activity.
Phase 1 of cocaine withdrawal: Intense comedown symptoms. Some symptoms will become more intense, some will be less intense, and some will change.4
Phase 2: Decreased cravings, increased inability to concentrate, emotional swings or irritability, and lethargy.4
Phase 3: Intermittent craving associated with addiction even after the drug has long been out of the body.4
Most people can detox from cocaine in two weeks; however, post-acute withdrawal symptoms may last for weeks or even months. Psychological symptoms, physical aches and pains, and drug cravings may increase or decrease in intensity over that time.5
Long-Term Harm from Cocaine Binges: Addiction and Physical Harm
If a person who uses cocaine goes on a binge, they may experience significant changes in brain chemistry. Psychotic symptoms may arise, or they may experience depression when they eventually detox from the drug. Cardiovascular risks are high.
Cocaine also reduces blood flow by constricting blood vessels throughout the body, which can result in ischemic injury to various organ systems such as in the gastrointestinal tract. Malnutrition from failing to eat healthy meals is also a risk.
Quitting cocaine is not easy, so it can be helpful to find support for withdrawal and addiction at a drug rehabilitation program in Florida, like River Oaks, that provides evidence-based therapy to change behaviors around drugs or alcohol. Call to start treatment today or to speak with an admissions navigator about ways to pay for rehab and how to use insurance to pay for addiction treatment. You can also verify your insurance coverage using the confidential .
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