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Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

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Further Information
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Updated on 17/09/2021
Medically reviewed by
Dr Alexander Lapa (Psychiatrist)

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug. It increases the level of dopamine in the brain and creates a euphoric high that makes users want to take more.

Eventually, cocaine abuse causes the brain and body to adjust to the chemical changes caused by cocaine and needs it to function normally.

This is a physical addiction to cocaine; psychological addiction can also occur when users feel they need to take cocaine in a particular situation. Cocaine withdrawal occurs when a user stops taking the drug after they have become dependent on it.

Cocaine addiction is physically and mentally damaging.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse list of possible short term health effects includes paranoia, psychosis, heart rhythm problems, heart attack and stroke. In contrast, possible long term effects can include loss of sense of smell, nasal damage and infection and death of bowel tissue.

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Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal

Withdrawal symptoms can appear as soon as 30 minutes after the drug is used for the last time. Common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:

Addiction symptoms of cocaine

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Anger/irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Restlessness
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite
  • Cravings for cocaine

Withdrawal Symptom timeline

A cocaine user can experience withdrawal symptoms from half an hour after their last dose of the drug, and withdrawal symptoms can last up to ten weeks.

The duration and severity of withdrawal can vary depending on the individual. Factors that can influence it include the length of use and quantity, co-occurring mental health or medical issues, home environment and addiction to other substances.

A cocaine user experiencing withdrawal can expect to experience:

 

Week one

Symptoms will be most intense during this initial period of cocaine withdrawal, including irritability, trouble sleeping and a strong desire to use the drug.

 

Weeks 2-9

Withdrawal symptoms should become less intense, but difficulty concentrating or keeping a stable mood is expected.

 

Week 10 onwards

Symptoms should begin to disappear at this point, but a person may continue to experience cravings.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment

Quitting cocaine requires a detox process for the cocaine to leave the body and treatment to help with withdrawal symptoms. Medications are available to help with the anxiety and depression that many people suffer with.Ketamine Addiction Treatment & Rehab

Support groups and therapy are also helpful in combatting the cravings and temptation to begin using the drug again after it has left the body.

Treatment for cocaine addiction doesn’t end once there is no trace of the drug left in the body, cravings for the drug can reappear years later, and strategies to counter these are needed for long term success.

When is Medical Detox needed?

Not everyone needs a medical detox. Some people may be successful in detoxing at home, but detoxing at home presents extra challenges. Withdrawal symptoms are more challenging to face alone, and there’s no separation from the home environment, which may trigger relapse or use.

Medical detox is especially recommended for those who have previously relapsed or suffer from mental health disorders. The controlled, professional environment of a treatment centre offers the best chance of success.

The Detox Process at a Drug Rehab Clinic

At a drug rehab clinic, every care is taken to ensure that patients are supported through the detox process and have a plan in place for recovery afterwards.

Completing the detox process at a drug rehab clinic is the safest method to detox. There are professionals on hand to make the process as straightforward as possible. The environment is supportive and drug-free, avoiding the temptations or stresses of home that may make the temptation to relapse more challenging to resist.

As well as help with the initial detox phase, a range of psychological exercises and counselling are also laid out to ensure that those undergoing treatments have the best chance of long term success.

Aftercare at the Cocaine Addiction Rehab

Detox is the first step in addiction treatment, but it’s not the end of the road. Patients need to ensure they have the right mindset and support to resist relapsing.

Addiction Therapy

Aftercare at a treatment centre includes therapy and counselling to help maintain a positive, resilient mindset that will help those in recovery to continue their life free from addiction. This might include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Support groups
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Motivational therapy
  • Coping mechanisms

The team of experienced medical professionals at the treatment centre will create a suitable programme to provide them with the tools they need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the long term effects of cocaine addiction?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse [link] the long term effects of cocaine addiction are losing your sense of smell, nosebleeds, nasal damage and trouble swallowing, infection and death of bowel tissue, poor nutrition and weight loss, and lung damage from smoking.
Causes of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine abuse is the recreational use of cocaine, this can develop into addiction when a user continues to take the drug despite negative consequences. Cocaine addiction can be physical, as the body becomes dependent on the chemical changes that cocaine causes, and psychological, when a user feels compelled to take cocaine in certain situations.
Can I withdraw on my own at home?
It is possible to withdraw at home as long as you’re not suffering from a mental health or medical issue for which cocaine withdrawal may be dangerous. Before starting the process seek advice from your GP and ensure you follow a healthy diet and lifestyle during withdrawal.
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Seth is an author, addiction recovery expert and fully accredited member of the national counselling society. He has experience working with a wide range of addictions and mental illnesses using a number of evidence-based therapies and programmes such as the SMART models of addiction recovery.

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