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Cocaine Withdrawal & Detox: What to Expect When Quitting Coke

Withdrawing from cocaine can be an intense process that should be done under professional supervision. However, the difficult withdrawal symptoms are still worth it to overcome a cocaine addiction. 

Withdrawal symptoms don’t last forever. Eventually it will get easier, and you will be able to live your life to the fullest. 

Are you or a loved one struggling with a cocaine addiction and want to know what to expect from the withdrawal? We’ll go over the stages of withdrawal, common symptoms, and how to conquer the detox and recovery process.

How Addictive is Cocaine?

Cocaine is an illegal Schedule II controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and addiction. According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2018, almost 212,000 adults aged 18-25 were diagnosed with cocaine use disorder within the past year. For the ages of 26 and older, about 760,000 were diagnosed with cocaine use disorder.

Cocaine is a stimulant that makes people feel a rush of euphoria, high energy, alertness, and hypersensitivity to sound, sight, and touch. When someone gets high on cocaine, their brain releases massive amounts of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps you to feel pleasure. Those intense feelings are what tends to keep them coming back for more cocaine.

That may sound harmless, but long-term cocaine use can cause serious health problems and side effects, including death.

The good news is that there are professional treatment options for cocaine addiction that can help people recover. With compassionate support, structure, and clinical care, the professional team at SOBA can help patients heal their addiction and any underlying issues contributing to their drug use. 

What Does Cocaine Withdrawal Feel Like?

Various factors influence the timeline, but generally the stages of cocaine withdrawal are as follows.

The Crash 

A cocaine high is relatively short-lived. Those that smoke it feel the effects almost immediately, but the high only lasts for about 5 to 10 minutes. While cocaine users that snort it usually feel the effects within a few minutes, with the high lasting about 15 to 30 minutes. Those that inject it feel effects usually within about 15 to 30 minutes, with the high lasting about the same time.

When a person starts to come down or “ crash”, they may begin to feel some uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can appear as quickly as 90 minutes after the last time they used cocaine. In the first 24 hours, they will likely have a major crash. 

Acute Withdrawal

The crash leads you right into an acute withdrawal and detox stage which can last around a week to ten days. Symptoms are often at their worst between days three and five and then start to decrease in intensity.

​​Unlike other substances, cocaine withdrawal symptoms are more likely to be psychological instead of physical. For instance, you may feel like your thinking has slowed down or you can’t concentrate. You may feel restless, anxious, depressed, or have vivid nightmares.

Some people also experience physical withdrawal symptoms. You may feel like you have a bad case of the flu. Symptoms can include body aches, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and insomnia. It’s also possible that you won’t be able to experience sexual pleasure while you withdraw from cocaine.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone stops using, cocaine withdrawal symptoms can set in quickly. Those that have been using cocaine for long periods of time or have taken strong doses may experience harsher symptoms during detox.

Your withdrawal symptoms will depend on various factors, such as:

  • Age and weight
  • Your average dose
  • How long you have been using cocaine
  • How often you use cocaine
  • Whether or not you have other drug dependencies
  • Environmental factors such as a bad home or work life
  • Any medical issues you may suffer from
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders

Typical cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Body aches
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Stomachache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Low libido
  • Increased anxiety
  • Nightmares or intense, vivid dreams
  • Strong cravings for more cocaine
  • Appetite increase

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The timeframe for withdrawal symptoms depends on the factors mentioned earlier, but the physical symptoms tend to last one to two weeks depending on the severity of the addiction. 

Between weeks two and four, you may experience more psychological withdrawal symptoms. Possible complications may include severe depression, suicidal ideation or attempts, and intense cravings that could lead to relapse.

The next stage of withdrawal is the extinction phase. It can last for around six months after the last time you use cocaine. Most of your symptoms will be minor by this point; however, you may still have cravings and feel exhausted. 

Having a solid support network – and counseling, if necessary – can help reduce the overall withdrawal time.

Medical Detox for Cocaine Addiction

The safest and most effective way to detox from cocaine is under the supervision of addiction experts and medical professionals. Support from a detox center can help manage your withdrawal symptoms and reduce the chance of relapse with a long-term recovery strategy based on your needs.

Cocaine detoxes can be done at home, but you need to be aware of the fact that you could experience extremely intense depression and anxiety during the process. If you have struggled with mental health disorders before, it’s a good idea to be supervised during your withdrawal period. Additionally, If you have done a cocaine detox on your own before and relapsed, seeking medical supervision may be more effective. 

The Importance of Treatment After Cocaine Detox

Detox is an important step toward recovery from cocaine addiction, but you can’t just stop there. The next step after detox is undergoing addiction recovery treatment. 

Typically, once someone finishes detoxing, they commit to either an inpatient (residential) or outpatient treatment program. Inpatient treatment is for those who would like to leave home and attend rehab for a designated period. The usual time for residential treatment is around 28 days, but you can stay longer if you desire.

Outpatient treatment is for those who would like to live at home and attend treatment at a center in the community. Typically, they attend three to five sessions or a certain number of hours per week. 

During treatment, you will be able to learn about the addiction recovery process, the disease of addiction, relapse prevention skills, and the psychological aspects of addiction. You’ll also receive individual and group counseling with others who are on the road of recovery. And at SOBA, we encourage our drug abuse clients to find a sponsor and join a 12-step recovery program outside of treatment.

How to Handle Cravings After Cocaine Withdrawal

Even in sobriety, you may still crave cocaine for a long time. Cravings can even show up suddenly years after your detox. When these cravings do occur, it’s important to know how to respond to them. 

The first thing you should do when you’re newly sober is to develop healthy habits. You should have these in place when your cravings are not bad so that you can use them to help you through when it gets more intense. 

Habits to focus on include:

  • Getting proper sleep
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting into an exercise routine
  • Self-care practices like journaling and meditation

All of these habits will create structure in your life, which is a strong defense against drug cravings. 

You should surround yourself with positive people who will support you when your cravings are intense. Distance yourself from anyone who would try to drag you back into your cocaine addiction. 

You should also avoid using other types of substances to self-medicate. This will put you at risk of replacing your cocaine dependency with another substance.

Finally, regular therapy will help you unpack your addiction. It will also help you maintain a healthy perspective on drug abuse. In therapy, you will learn how to get to the roots of your issues instead of trying to medicate yourself. 

If you do have a relapse because your cravings were too strong, try to go easy on yourself. Remember that relapses happen and you can get back on track with your sobriety. 

Get Help for Cocaine Addiction

Are you or someone you love struggling with an addiction to cocaine? If so, know that personalized, effective treatment options are available. 

You do not have to try to stop using cocaine on your own. Here at SOBA, we provide specific levels of clinical care and case management that will help you recover successfully and go on to build the kind of life you truly desire.

Take your first step and reach out today. Our compassionate, friendly professionals are happy to get you started on your recovery path.

Start Cocaine Detox Today

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