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Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

Suddenly stopping cocaine after using the drug for several months or years can cause withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, nightmares, and irritation that can last for 7-10 days or more. Even though the cocaine withdrawal timeline is shorter than that of some other drugs – like opioids or alcohol – it can be difficult to endure without professional help.

Drug cravings can easily overwhelm a detoxing brain and mood swings can make it difficult to think clearly. Fortunately, cocaine detox programs in North Carolina can help people begin the recovery process the right way.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Some substances, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, produce potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. While cocaine withdrawal is painful and aggravating, the symptoms are usually not life-threatening. Still, it can be difficult to overcome these symptoms without professional help.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:[1]

  • Slowed thinking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed physical activity
  • Exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Restlessness
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Increased appetite
  • Cravings for cocaine
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Muscle aches
  • Nerve pain

After a person uses cocaine, the high may last 15-30 minutes. Then, the user may crash in the hours after their cocaine binge. Shortly after the crash sets in, withdrawal symptoms will occur, too.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

While there are several different factors that affect the timeline and severity of a person’s withdrawal symptoms. Some of these include:

  • Frequency of cocaine use
  • Duration of cocaine dependency
  • Liver and kidney function
  • Age, weight, and BMI
  • Underlying health conditions
  • Method of cocaine administration (snorting, shooting, smoking, etc)

Cocaine has a half-life of approximately 1.5 hours, so a person’s body can process cocaine in just 7.5 hours.[2] As a fast-acting drug, the withdrawal timeline is also fairly rapid, as well.

The cocaine withdrawal timeline can be broken down into three phases:

  1. Crash – This is the first phase that occurs quickly after stopping cocaine use. Within 2-3 hours after the last dose, people may begin to feel anxious, irritable, fatigued, and dysphoric. They may also experience cravings. These symptoms may continue for several weeks.
  2. Withdrawal – After 6-12 hours, full-blown withdrawal symptoms will set in. These include insomnia, chills, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and more. These symptoms may become more severe and peak after 2-3 days. Then, after one week, most symptoms should subside.
  3. Recovery/Extinction – This phase consists of mood swings and cravings and may last for up to 10 weeks. These symptoms can be managed with the help of a comprehensive treatment program.

Overall, the most serious symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will resolve after 7-10 days. Lingering symptoms of mood swings and cravings are normal and can be successfully managed.

Dangers of Quitting Cocaine Alone

Cocaine withdrawal can be completed on an inpatient or outpatient basis, but medical detox is almost always recommended. Even though many of the withdrawal symptoms themselves aren’t life-threatening, they can turn severe in the blink of an eye.

One common concern when it comes to stimulant withdrawal is the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. People who stop using cocaine after chronic addiction may experience severe mood swings, suicidal thoughts, and depression. On top of this, they may also experience terribly powerful cravings that make it difficult to endure the entirety of the cocaine withdrawal timeline.

People with a history of chronic cocaine use, depression, or suicidal thoughts should seek help from an inpatient detox program. These programs provide 24/7 monitoring and supervision as well as life-saving medical services.

While there are no FDA-approved medications that treat cocaine withdrawal, there are some medications that can be used off-label to treat the symptoms of withdrawal. These medications may include propranolol, antidepressants, or anti-anxiety drugs.

Remedies for Cocaine Withdrawal

There are many home remedies that can help people get through the entire cocaine withdrawal timeline with ease. While it is always recommended to seek help from a professional drug detox center, some ways to help reduce the severity of cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
  • Exercise regularly throughout the week
  • Incorporate healthy habits into the day like yoga, meditation, and support groups
  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Keep a regular schedule
  • Find a sober support group to connect with
  • Participate in counseling
  • Take any medications as prescribed
  • Drink plenty of water

Those who attend a North Carolina detox program can expect mental, physical, and nutritional support as they complete the detox process. During detox, patients may also be screened for diseases or underlying health conditions that could potentially complicate detox. After detox is complete, patients will work with a drug and alcohol counselor to receive a custom treatment plan that meets their individual needs.

Cocaine Detox in North Carolina

Long-term cocaine abuse can lead to intense cravings and painful psychological withdrawal symptoms that complicate the recovery process. People who attempt to detox alone may have a harder time coping with these symptoms.

Medical detox services in North Carolina can provide support and medication management for cravings and other cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Detox programs also offer a slew of additional therapeutic services that aid in the healing process.

If you or a loved one are struggling with cocaine addiction and need help getting through withdrawal, our team at Carolina Center for Recovery can help. Call now to get started.

References:

  1. https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11043648/

Medically Reviewed: April 13, 2021

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

About

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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