Updated on March 18, 2024
4 min read

What Are Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms?

Cocaine withdrawal happens when someone heavily using cocaine stops or significantly reduces their use. It can be a rough experience with both emotional and physical effects.

Here are some of the common experiences during withdrawal:

  • Agitation and restlessness: You might get irritable or struggle to sit still during withdrawal
  • Depression: A common feeling that can last for months after stopping cocaine use
  • Fatigue: People often feel very tired and uncomfortable during the withdrawal process 
  • Increased appetite: You might feel hungry all the time and gain weight
  • Unpleasant dreams: Withdrawal can often cause intense, vivid, and unpleasant dreams
  • Sluggishness or lethargy: Your thinking and movements might be slower 
  • Strong urges or cravings: When you stop taking cocaine, you’ll experience strong urges that can last for several weeks
  • Anxiety: Although the intensity of your anxiety may vary, you’ll generally feel anxious and uneasy during the process
  • Sleep problems: You may experience disturbances or changes in your sleep patterns, like insomnia followed by hypersomnia
  • Physical symptoms: Muscle aches, nerve pain, tremors, chills, or seizures in severe cases

What Is the Timeline of Cocaine Withdrawal?

Withdrawal is a long and tiring process, but it’s possible to overcome it. During the first phase of withdrawal, you’ll experience tiredness, anxiety, and dysphoria. This typically starts within the first few hours after your last dose.

After 3 to 10 days, you’ll start to experience acute withdrawal, which will suddenly peak and fade over time. These symptoms include depression, increased appetite, lethargy, and strong cravings for cocaine.

The final withdrawal stage can last 2 to 3 weeks or even months. During this time, you may feel anxiety, mood changes, erratic sleep patterns, and cravings.

What are Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)?

Unfortunately, even after weeks of detoxing, you might not still be in the clear. PAWS is a condition that some people may experience after the initial acute withdrawal phase. 

It carries a series of symptoms that can persist for weeks, months, or even years. This makes addiction recovery particularly challenging. 

However, the symptoms you experience during PAWS are typically psychological and emotional. These symptoms include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure) 
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability, aggression, hostility
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Concentration problems
  • Low enthusiasm or motivation
  • Mood swings
  • Apathy
  • Brain fog or poor memory
  • Sensitivity to stress
  • Poor impulse control
  • Cocaine cravings

Factors Influencing Withdrawal Duration and Severity

Although withdrawal is a common experience among heavy cocaine users, your experience may vary. Some people will have more intense withdrawal symptoms than others.

In some cases, the withdrawal process might even take longer. The factors that can influence the severity and duration of withdrawal include:

  • Frequency and dosage: If you take higher doses of cocaine more frequently, you’re more likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • How you take cocaine: Smoking crack cocaine has a more rapid onset of withdrawal compared to snorting powdered cocaine.
  • Polydrug use: Mixing cocaine with other substances can complicate the withdrawal process and increase the risk of severe symptoms.
  • Overall physical and mental health: Your overall physical health, history of drug use, and potential co-occurring mental health disorders can influence the withdrawal process.
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Coping with Cocaine Withdrawal

Going through a medical detox can be especially helpful during cocaine withdrawal. This program offers a safe space that minimizes harmful side effects and provides medical care and support.

However, a detox is just the first step to coping with withdrawal. A rehab facility can help you understand why you started using cocaine and teach you healthy ways to cope with cravings.

Here are some other ways to help you cope with withdrawal:

  • Therapy and counseling: Programs like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you understand thought patterns related to addiction and how to change them.
  • Lifestyle changes: Developing healthy habits can help you manage symptoms and cravings; some changes include exercising, healthy eating, and meditation.
  • Support network: You can receive support from your loved ones or a peer support group to hold you accountable.

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Key Takeaways

Cocaine withdrawal is complex and difficult. Your symptoms may vary, but you’ll still need proper support and treatment.

The withdrawal process can take weeks and even months to recover from. You’ll typically experience intense physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms during this time.

You might even experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can persist for months or years. Fortunately, there are various ways to cope with cocaine withdrawal.

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Updated on March 18, 2024

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