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Apex Recovery Blog

Cocaine Withdrawal

A man in the throes of cocaine withdrawal

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant that presents many dangers to users. If you or someone you know is addicted to cocaine, they will most likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. Cocaine withdrawal can be a difficult process, not only due to the strong chemical dependence and addiction that the drug itself causes, but also because of the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Gaining a better understanding of both the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal and the dangers of cocaine withdrawal is important for individuals that are currently using cocaine. Many individuals who use cocaine regularly and would like to stop have powerful feelings of anxiety associated with the prospect of quitting. This is understandable given the fact that navigating cocaine withdrawal can be a difficult process. In fact, many people who are addicted to cocaine have quit and relapsed once or more times in the past.

The symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal, and the intensity of those symptoms, is an important contributing factor in the prevalence of relapsing. There are both physical and mental symptoms that individuals experience when going through cocaine withdrawal.

While some individuals may experience all of the signs and symptoms we outline, others may only experience some of them. There is also a variation in the intensity of cocaine withdrawal symptoms someone may experience. Due to these variations, understand that we will be providing an overview that may differ from the subjective experience of going through withdrawal and cocaine addiction treatment.

What are the Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal follows three main phases: a crash shortly after cessation, a longer period of withdrawal where more mild symptoms manifest, and finally a third phase where cravings for the drug continue to persist. Throughout each of these three phases, relapse remains a persistent problem. Relapsing holds a special danger for recovering addicts, as the user typically returns to the same dose they had been taking when they stopped the use of the drug. However, due to the fact that they had stopped taking the drug for a period of time their tolerance becomes lower, which ultimately increases the risk associated with overdosing.

Early Withdrawal Symptoms

This is often referred to as the “crash” phase of cocaine withdrawal. This is most obvious after a period of repeated, high doses of cocaine within a short period of time which is known as a “binge.” Early withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine will begin to occur within hours of the last dose, and will include:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Lack of hunger
  • Strong desire to use again, craving

Within a short period of time, these symptoms will begin to transition to a different set of equally intense symptoms. These include:

  • Profound fatigue
  • Depression
  • No craving, little desire to use cocaine again
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Restlessness

Late during the crash stage, symptoms will continue to change. Common symptoms many individuals experience towards the end of the first stage of cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Excessive hunger
  • Low desire to use again

Advanced Withdrawal Symptoms

After about a week, individuals who have transitioned away from using cocaine often experience different symptoms than they experienced during the initial days after cessation. These symptoms are characterized by an increased level of anxiety. Like the early stages of cocaine withdrawal, many individuals experience periods of intense craving followed by periods of a complete lack of craving to use the drug again. These advanced withdrawal symptoms can last up to 10 weeks, although the length of time you may experience withdrawal symptoms may be shorter than this. Early on, many users experience:

  • A return to a normal sleep pattern
  • Mental clarity and a more relaxed mental state
  • Low desire to use

As more time progresses from the last dose of cocaine, users may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Decreased ability to feel pleasure
  • Lack of energy
  • Intense anxiety
  • Strong cravings

Key Things to Note About Cocaine Withdrawal

Looking at the symptoms, it is quickly apparent that withdrawal from cocaine doesn’t track closely to withdrawal from many other drugs. Cocaine withdrawal is different from withdrawal from opiates, alcohol, and even other stimulants such as methamphetamine. Withdrawal from these drugs often produces profound physiological symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, or excessive sweating. While cocaine withdrawal syndrome isn’t typically associated with these symptoms, this doesn’t mean that cocaine withdrawal is easy or less dangerous for the person’s health.

While withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine are often not physiological, the psychological symptoms can be very intense. Many users experience periods of intense anxiety. Some users experience insomnia, depression, and loss of appetite. In rare cases, individuals can experience intense paranoia. Each of these psychological symptoms can be debilitating in their own way. In fact, they’re a key reason why treatment for cocaine withdrawal should be conducted under medical supervision.

A second thing to note about cocaine withdrawal is that many individuals experience intense periods of craving followed by a complete lack of desire to use the drug. This presents unique challenges for individuals that are pursuing sobriety, as it can seem like the most difficult period is behind them when they are suddenly hit with a strong desire to use again. As we mentioned, relapse is a persistent risk with cocaine withdrawal and can be dangerous. Relapsing has a higher likelihood of resulting in an overdose. Therefore, mitigating the opportunity to relapse is essential when dealing with cocaine withdrawal.

Cocaine Treatment Options

There are many treatments for cocaine addiction. Just as your addiction is unique, each individual has unique needs when it comes to overcoming cocaine addiction and recovery. Although it is possible to cease cocaine use on your own, often referred to as quitting “cold-turkey”, the reality is that undergoing detox in a treatment facility will give you the best chance for a successful recovery. This is important because it provides the foundation for moving forward with your recovery.

If you undergo detox in a treatment facility, you will be less likely to relapse due to the fact that drugs aren’t available. While cocaine detox is important, it is only one step on the road to life-long sobriety. There are many components to a recovery program. Important among these are different therapy modalities, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Through these therapy sessions, recovering addicts can work to uncover the underlying issues that gave rise to their addiction. Treatment modalities such as cognitive-behavioral therapy have been demonstrated to be an effective method for treating cocaine addiction.

Get the Help You Need From Apex Recovery San Diego

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to cocaine, getting the help you need to pursue lifelong sobriety should be a top priority. Cocaine withdrawal can be very challenging for many habitual users of cocaine. The good news is that with the right treatment plan in place, successful recovery and lifelong sobriety is achievable.

Through the use of evidence-based treatment, individuals can address the underlying issues that gave rise to their addiction in the first place. Call Apex Recovery San Diego today at 619.458.3435 and get started on your journey to recovery.

Call Our Toll-Free Hotline 24/7 at 877.881.2689