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Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms + Timeline

Quitting cocaine is tough, but the risks of continuing to use it are dangerous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 23% of overdose deaths in 2021 involved cocaine. However, the fear of cocaine withdrawal symptoms prevents many people from quitting—especially when they don’t get professional help.

Buckhead Behavioral Health offers outpatient detox programs for cocaine and other substances. Visit our admissions page today to verify your insurance and get started.

What is Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal is the period of time after you quit or cut back on regular cocaine use. During withdrawal, you will have unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms. This is because regular cocaine use leads to dependency.

Simply put, cocaine dependency means that your body and mind cannot function normally without cocaine. Your system now expects cocaine regularly—and will struggle without it. And so, you will have cocaine withdrawal symptoms soon after you stop using cocaine.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are the physical and psychological responses you experience as you adjust to no longer using cocaine. These symptoms can range in intensity from mild to severe. However, symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are rarely dangerous or life-threatening.

Still, it’s important to seek professional cocaine detox services to safely manage withdrawal. Oftentimes, people who try to quit without help relapse once withdrawal begins. To complicate matters, psychological distress during withdrawal can lead to depression or suicidal thoughts.

The symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include the following:

  • Low or depressed mood
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Poor concentration
  • Impaired memory
  • Irritability
  • Increased appetite
  • Slow movements and speech
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Paranoia

In addition to the above, you could have strong cravings and urges to use cocaine. This is because your body wants what it has become accustomed to. However, with professional help, you can get through withdrawal and on the pathway to long-term recovery.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Cocaine withdrawal can last at least one week during the acute phase. This is the time when your symptoms will be their most intense. Furthermore, cocaine withdrawal symptoms tend to be more physical than psychological during the acute phase.

However, other symptoms, like depression, anxiety, energy levels, and cravings can persist for months afterward. 

The Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline 

Below is an estimation of what you can expect through the cocaine withdrawal timeline:

  • First 24 hours: The effects of cocaine cause an intense high that quickly wears off. Once the high wears off, your brain is depleted of any chemicals that help you feel good. During the first 24 hours of withdrawal, you can expect the usual feelings that accompany the “crash” after cocaine use.
  • One to three days: Withdrawal symptoms continue to worsen as your body expects cocaine and doesn’t get it. Your symptoms will peak in intensity during the first 72 hours. After that, they will gradually dissipate over the next few days.
  • One week to 10 days: Acute cocaine withdrawal symptoms can linger as they wane in intensity. However, you should be through the acute phase of withdrawal within 7 to 10 days. Next, you need to continue with long-term cocaine addiction treatment to prevent relapse and engage in recovery.
  • One month: Although your withdrawal symptoms should be manageable by this point, you could still have cravings and a low mood during the first month after you quit cocaine. As you learn more about the underlying causes of your addiction—and how to cope with them—during rehab, these symptoms start to resolve.

Most people will experience something like the timeline above. Still, others could have post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). If you have PAWS, symptoms like fatigue, depression, anxiety, and lethargy can persist for several months after detox.

Is Cocaine Withdrawal the Same for Everyone?

Cocaine withdrawal isn’t the same for everyone. There are factors unique to each person and their addiction that influence the severity and duration of withdrawal. Generally speaking, if you use cocaine heavily for months or years, your withdrawal symptoms will be worse than those who’ve used it less often.

Factors That Influence Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms and Timelines

The following factors influence your experience during cocaine withdrawal:

  • How much cocaine you use and how often: Everyone’s habits are different when it comes to substance abuse. You might only use cocaine on weekends, whereas other people use it daily. In addition, the amount that you typically use each time impacts your withdrawal.
  • How long you’ve been addicted to cocaine: Long-time, regular users of cocaine usually have a worse experience during withdrawal than people in the early stages of addiction. The longer you’ve used cocaine, the more dependent you will be on it—resulting in intense withdrawal
  • Underlying mental health conditions: It’s common for people who abuse cocaine to have an underlying mental health disorder. On the other hand, long-term cocaine use can alter how your brain works—and you develop a mental health disorder as a result. Underlying mental health conditions or a dual-diagnosis disorder increase the likelihood of psychological symptoms during withdrawal.
  • Overall state of physical health: Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be taxing on your body. So, if you have medical conditions or are in poor health, your symptoms could be worse than for those who are relatively healthy.
  • Mixing other drugs with cocaine: You might engage in polysubstance abuse—using more than one drug at a time. Polysubstance abuse can complicate withdrawal because you will have symptoms from all substances. After all, you can’t only quit one drug at a time—you’ll have to stop using all substances to enter a detox program.
  • Type of cocaine and how you use it: The way that you use cocaine—and the type—impacts your withdrawal. For instance, smoking crack cocaine could lead to a more rapid withdrawal than snorting cocaine powder.
infographic: what factors influence cocaine withdrawal?

How Do Cocaine Detox Programs Help?

Cocaine detox programs can help you during cocaine withdrawal in several ways:

  • Prevent cocaine access: Inpatient detox programs will prevent you from gaining access to cocaine while you stay within the facility.
  • Hold you accountable: If you choose outpatient detox, they might drug test you to ensure that you aren’t using cocaine. 
  • Relapse prevention: Detox programs provide you with the support you need to prevent relapse when cocaine withdrawal symptoms are at their worst.
  • Medical monitoring: Cocaine causes your heart rate to elevate and your blood pressure to rise. Therefore, monitoring of your cardiovascular system and overall physical health during withdrawal is vital to ensure your health and safety.
  • Psychological support: Withdrawal symptoms can significantly impact your emotional and mental well-being. If you have a severe addiction, you are at risk of psychotic symptoms and paranoia. In addition, if you have underlying depression, you could be at risk of suicide.
  • Transition to long-term treatment: Detox is the first step to overcoming cocaine addiction. But, it’s not the last. During detox, your treatment team can help you create an aftercare plan to continue addiction treatment.

What Happens After Cocaine Detox?

After cocaine detox, it’s important to continue addiction treatment. While each person has different needs in recovery, you can expect the following steps after detox:

  • Residential treatment: During residential treatment, also called inpatient rehab, you get 24/7 support and supervision. This is because you will live in the same facility as you get treatment. Most residential treatment programs last 30 to 90 days.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): After leaving inpatient rehab, you can step down to outpatient care. A PHP program, also called day treatment, offers a high level of care without the restrictions of a residential program.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): IOP programs offer programming five days per week for about three to four hours per session. That way, you can resume some of your everyday responsibilities, like work, school, or caring for family, while still getting treatment.
  • Outpatient program (OP): In a regular outpatient program, you can continue your treatment with weekly therapy sessions. This can help you manage ongoing symptoms and find new coping strategies for everyday stressors.

At Buckhead Behavioral Health, we offer a 90-day rehab program through several levels of outpatient care. That way, you get long-term care through progressive steps as you build the skills you need to recover from cocaine addiction.

Start Cocaine Detox in Atlanta Today

Cocaine is a highly addictive substance that can negatively impact your life. When you quit, cocaine withdrawal symptoms begin, which puts you at risk of relapsing due to strong cravings and unpleasant symptoms. However, our professional drug and alcohol detox programs in Atlanta can help you quit cocaine safely—and for good.

Contact Buckhead Behavioral Health to start cocaine detox today.

author review

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Rahul Gupta, MD

Written by: Erika Dalton, LMSW
Updated on April 30, 2024
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