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Cocaine Withdrawal

Learn the challenges and symptoms you may experience on the pathway to recovery.

Although symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may not be as intense as what one feels when quitting other drugs and alcohol, they can be severe, even leading to fatal conditions if not properly treated. Whether you have only recently begun using this stimulant, or you’ve used cocaine over many years, recovery is possible.

Common withdrawal symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Exhaustion
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Increased appetite
  • Increased cravings for cocaine
  • Muscle aches and nerve pain
  • Restlessness
  • Slowed activity or physical fatigue after activity
  • Slowed thinking
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Tremors
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares

Severity of symptoms.

The severity of symptoms, including how long they last, is affected by factors such as the length of time someone has used, dosage size, living environment, and other mental health and medical conditions.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Seeking treatment

For those who are first attempting to quit using cocaine, outpatient therapies can provide the resources needed to successfully manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce craving. For people who have attempted to quit without finding success, or who have a history of depression, supervised use of medication should be considered, along with inpatient treatment. Furthermore, a sudden stop can increase the risk of intense mood swings and severe depression, which can lead to thoughts of suicide. Because of this, supervised medical detoxification can reduce potentially fatal risks by providing a safe environment during withdrawal.

Medications:

While there isn’t an FDA-approved medication to treat cocaine withdrawal, some medications show promising results, including buprenorphine and naltrexone. Propranolol, which is approved to treat hypertension and angina, can provide relief for those experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, antidepressants can help those with higher risk of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, especially if symptoms last longer than 10 days. Work with a health care professional to determine the best medications for your treatment plan and to ensure all side effects are closely monitored.

Life after withdrawal

While withdrawal symptoms from cocaine tend to last only seven to 10 days, cravings can persist for years. These cravings can develop suddenly and may catch you off guard, making them difficult to manage. But should a relapse occur, it does not mean you failed. Knowing what to expect and how to manage these cravings will prepare you if a relapse does occur.

Work with a medical professional to diagnose your level of dependency to cocaine and create a safe treatment plan that works for you. Recovery is a lifelong process, but there are many resources and communities available to help you stay on that path.