Medically Reviewed by Dr. Francine Mends, MD on August 4, 2020
When you withdraw from cocaine, you’ll experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can derail your recovery with powerful cravings. It can be very hard to withdraw from cocaine alone, which is why so many people choose detox programs.
The signs of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Agitated or hostile behavior
- Cravings for cocaine
- Mood changes, including anxiety and depression
- Trouble sleeping
Cocaine withdrawal is very uncomfortable, but it’s not as dangerous as other types of withdrawal associated with certain drugs.
You will probably get through withdrawal more easily using a detox program, where you’ll be monitored and receive medication to manage the symptoms.
It’s always best to seek the help of a quality treatment center to help you detox safely.
Wondering how to manage cocaine withdrawal and detox?
When you’re addicted to coke, experiencing withdrawal is a given. Cocaine use rates have grown recently, and every person who develops a cocaine addiction experiences withdrawal.
Withdrawing from coke isn’t easy. The symptoms can feel like severe depression. Many people relapse on cocaine when they’re going through withdrawal. It can be impossible to manage cravings without help.
Detox programs give you support and care during withdrawal from cocaine. Most treatment programs will require that you go to detox before you start treatment. Even if it isn’t a requirement, detox is a valuable tool in early recovery.
Withdrawal is a scary part of cocaine addiction, but it doesn’t have to prevent your recovery. Medical detox programs can help you survive withdrawal without relapsing on cocaine.
What is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Cocaine withdrawal is your body’s response when you stop using cocaine after developing an addiction. It can begin within hours of your last cocaine use.
When you use cocaine, it boosts your dopamine levels. Dopamine is a chemical in your body that affects:
After long-term cocaine use, your body becomes used to the high dopamine levels. When you stop using cocaine, your body experiences a sudden crash in dopamine.
This crash is a cocaine withdrawal. You’ll feel a strong need to use more cocaine, in addition to unpleasant symptoms caused by low dopamine. Many people describe withdrawal as feeling like a very bad depressive episode.
Cocaine withdrawal doesn’t last forever, but many people avoid recovery because they fear withdrawing. Medical detox while you stop using cocaine can help reduce the discomfort of withdrawing.
Is Cocaine Withdrawal Dangerous?
Cocaine withdrawal is not dangerous in the sense that you’ll die from it. There aren’t any reports of death from cocaine withdrawal as of 2020.
Unlike alcohol or benzo withdrawal, you don’t experience seizures or significant issues when withdrawing from coke.
The biggest danger during cocaine withdrawal is an increased risk of relapse or overdose.
When you’re withdrawing from cocaine, you’re more likely to relapse. This is due to the strong cravings and desire to stop the depressive symptoms.
You’re also more likely to overdose right after withdrawal. This can lead to death. It’s important to go to detox to manage cocaine withdrawal and avoid relapse or overdose.
What Are the Signs of Cocaine Withdrawal?
Withdrawing from cocaine causes a sudden drop in dopamine levels in your body. This causes effects on your mood and more.
The signs of cocaine withdrawal include:
- Dysphoria, or a general feeling of unease
- Intense need to sleep
- Intense hunger
- Night terrors
- Slowed movements
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?
Cocaine withdrawal happens in 2 stages. The acute symptoms of cocaine withdrawal start within 24 hours of your last dose and last around 3 days.
After acute withdrawal ends, you’ll experience milder symptoms for 7 to 10 days.
Most people find that withdrawal is complete within 2 weeks. A few people develop post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
When you develop PAWS, your long-term withdrawal symptoms don’t end after 2 weeks. People with PAWS may have cocaine withdrawal symptoms for 3 to 6 months after their last use. Some people have symptoms for a year or longer.
You’re at higher risk for PAWS if you:
- Have a history of heavy cocaine use
- Have a long-term history of cocaine use
- Have a history of relapse
- Have a history of other mental health disorders
What is Cocaine Detox?
Cocaine detox programs give you access to care during withdrawal. This can reduce your risk of relapse and prepare you for inpatient or outpatient treatment. Many inpatient facilities require that you attend detox first.
A detox program keeps you away from triggers and temptations to lessen your chance of relapse. Constant monitoring means your care team can help if you get too uncomfortable.
What Happens in Cocaine Detox?
In cocaine detox, you’ll focus on getting through withdrawal and preparing for inpatient or outpatient treatment.
You’ll receive 24/7 monitoring and support to keep you comfortable. This can include:
- Comfort care — medications to manage your symptoms, such as blood pressure changes or mood changes
- Intravenous fluids — combat dehydration
- Nutritional support — fight malnutrition
At the same time, your care team will prepare you to start inpatient care. It’s important to follow up detox with treatment for cocaine addiction.
How Long Does Cocaine Detox Last?
Cocaine detox usually lasts 5 to 7 days. Withdrawal is different for everyone, so some people may need a longer detox program. In some cases, medical detox programs can last 10 to 14 days or longer.
Talk to your care team if you think a longer detox program is right for you. You may need extended detox care if you:
- Have a history of long-term or heavy cocaine use
- Have a history of poly-drug abuse, or using multiple drugs at once
- Have a strong history of relapse
- Have co-existing mental health problems, like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Have health problems that could affect detox, like liver or heart problems
What Are the Signs You Need Cocaine Detox?
You need cocaine detox if you are living with cocaine addiction.
Anyone can benefit from a medical detox program. Withdrawing from cocaine is difficult and uncomfortable alone. Medical detox helps keep you focused on recovery instead of the temptation to relapse. You don’t need to have a complicated drug abuse history to need cocaine detox.
You may need cocaine detox if you have any of these signs:
- An inability to stop using cocaine
- A history of relapsing on cocaine
- Problems with your social, financial, and work life due to cocaine
- Spending too much time using cocaine
- Neglecting health, hygiene, and self-care to use cocaine
- Withdrawal when you try to stop using cocaine
Don’t wait until you have all of these signs to stop using cocaine. You can benefit from cocaine detox programs even if you don’t have all the classic signs of addiction. Cocaine is hard to stop using without medical help.
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