Cocaine is a widely used and potent stimulant. It can be extremely addictive, and in 2015, more than 896,000 (or 0.3% of the population) suffered from a past-year cocaine use disorder.1
Cocaine withdrawal occurs when a heavy user cuts down or quits using the drug. Although withdrawal from cocaine rarely presents any immediate danger, a person may experience several uncomfortable signs and symptoms including depression, fatigue, and unpleasant dreams.
The timeline for withdrawal begins within a few hours to a few days after last use, and the effects can last for several weeks or even months.
In the most extreme cases, there is a risk of suicide or overdose during cocaine withdrawal. Because of this, medical detox is the safest method to detox and recover from a cocaine addiction.
Signs, Symptoms, and Effects
Symptoms can include cravings, depression, fatigue, and increased appetite.
Drug Withdrawal Treatment
Alcohol/drug withdrawal treatment centers include hospitals as well as residential rehabilitation centers.
Signs and symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can include:2
- Increased appetite.
- Vivid and unpleasant dreams.
The severity of cocaine withdrawal effects will depend on:
- Length of cocaine use.
- Amount used.
- Abuse of other drugs, such as alcohol or heroin.
- Co-occurring mental health or medical conditions.
Substance use often co-occurs with mental health disorders such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In 2015, an estimated 8.1 million adults had a mental illness and a substance use disorder in the past year. 4, 1
The cocaine withdrawal timeline can be broken out into 3 distinct phases.
When you stop using cocaine, you will likely experience an almost immediate crash. Cocaine has a short half-life, which means that after your last dose, withdrawal signs can take effect quickly.
Below is a breakdown of the withdrawal timeline.
|Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline|
|Phase 1||The “crash” may begin within a few hours to a few days. Symptoms may include exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, and increased appetite.|
|Phase 2||The second stage is referred to as the proper “withdrawal” period, with symptoms lasting up to 10 weeks. Symptoms include lethargy, persistent anxiety, persistent irritability, erratic sleep, strong cravings, depression, and poor concentration.|
|Phase 3||Also referred to as “extinction,” this phase may last up to 28 weeks and include sporadic cravings and dysphoria.5|
Although cocaine withdrawal’s effects as rarely as severe as the withdrawal syndromes of heroin, prescription opioids, or alcohol (like vomiting and shaking), it does carry risks. One of the biggest risks is relapse to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal.
Other serious complications of cocaine withdrawal include:6
- Suicidal ideation.
Overdose can occur because withdrawal lowers a person’s tolerance. If the person relapses and uses the same dose they are accustomed to, it can overwhelm their system and lead to death.
In some cases, cocaine withdrawal is associated with suicidal thoughts. If you are withdrawing from cocaine and you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call your doctor or a mental health professional immediately.
If you abused other drugs or alcohol in addition to cocaine, you may greatly benefit from a program where professionals can monitor your condition as you move through treatment. Give us a call today at 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? to speak to a treatment support specialist, who can help you find the best program to fit your needs.
Read next: Cocaine Withdrawal Medications and Help
. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.
. The New York Times. (2013). Cocaine Withdrawal.
. UCLA Dual Diagnosis Program. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).
. Brady, K. T., & Sinha, R. (2005). Co-occurring mental and substance use disorders: the neurobiological effects of chronic stress. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162(8), 1483-1493.
. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). The cocaine withdrawal syndrome.
. National Institutes of Health. (2017). Cocaine Withdrawal.