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Cocaine Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant drug that can be snorted, inhaled, or injected. It has been a favorite drug for years for professionals and partygoers alike. When cocaine is ingested, users will feel an overwhelming sensation of euphoria and alertness, typically within seconds to minutes. They also will be energetic and experience feelings of competence and increased sexuality. The sensation should last anywhere from 30 minutes to more than an hour, depending on the individual and how they used the drug. 

Cocaine is known for producing a short high followed by an immediate desire to do more to make the euphoric sensation last. It is a highly addictive substance no matter what the preferred method of use is, although those who abuse the drug via injection seem to develop a dependence sooner.

Cocaine has no real medical uses in modern medicine. In the past, it was used as an agent to treat depression and fatigue. It wasn’t until several decades later that doctors recognized the highly addictive nature of cocaine. Cocaine also used to be one of the main ingredients in the popular drink Coca Cola until 1903. Before its removal, however, a fairly significant amount was used in the drink: 5-ounce per gallon of syrup. 

Today, cocaine is primarily just for recreational purposes. The statistics are startling. About 35.3 million Americans have reported using cocaine, with 6.9 percent of those aged 18 to 25 stating they had used the drug within the past year. Cocaine abuse is clearly a large problem in the United States, as is getting off the drug.

What Are the Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms?

withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal is when the cessation of regular cocaine use causes physical symptoms to appear. Over time, as a result of using cocaine, the body develops a dependence on the drug and the brain’s chemical makeup ultimately becomes altered. Using cocaine disrupts the natural production and flow of neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, within the brain, and the brain becomes reliant upon the presence of cocaine to function “properly.”

When the supply of cocaine is abruptly stopped, the brain recoils and subsequently withdrawal symptoms will appear. Cocaine, unlike alcohol and some other illicit substances, does not have any outward physical withdrawal symptoms such as nausea or shaking, but rather more mood-related symptoms. Some of these cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation and restless behavior
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Depression, dysphoria
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowing of activity, low energy
  • General feeling of discomfort
  • Nightmares
  • Severe cravings for cocaine
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Paranoia

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What Are the Stages of the Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline?

When someone using cocaine regularly decides to stop using, typically the initial throes of the withdrawal symptoms are felt within 24 hours after the final use of the substance. This stage is known as the “crash.” This is where the initial withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, depression, low energy, motivation, and the inability to think straight can be experienced.

The next stage involves full withdrawals. This stage can occur for up to 10 weeks after cocaine use is stopped of cocaine use. During this part of the withdrawal process, symptoms such as dissatisfaction with life, depression, paranoia, anxiety, low energy, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and cravings occur.

Lastly, the user experiences the extinction phase. This period of withdrawal symptoms can be experienced for up to six months after the last dose of cocaine. The symptoms will decrease throughout this time and include low mood and cravings. 

Essentially, the timeline for cocaine withdrawals is 24 hours to six months for symptoms to begin and end. Of course, this timeline is contingent on the remaining cessation of cocaine use. Continued use will start the cycle over again from Day 1. 

Why Should I Detox?

Quitting drugs cold turkey may sound like a good idea, but it can be difficult, painful, and dangerous. In some cases, it can be dangerous and even deadly.

Given the difficult physical symptoms, withdrawing on your own without professional medical help can be very challenging. It’s important to find a professional, medically assisted detox program to support you during the process of cocaine withdrawal.

Doing this will ensure that you are carefully monitored in a safe environment while your body goes through the difficult detoxification process. Participating in an addiction treatment program also gives you a better chance at lasting recovery as a result of the structured medical and emotional support you will receive. 

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

continuum of treatment

A full continuum of treatment ensures the best opportunity for a successful recovery. Following a full continuum of treatment means starting with the medical detox process and then progressing gradually from an inpatient status to outpatient treatment. You will then have the opportunity to participate in an alumni program after the formal treatment program is completed. The stages of addiction treatment include:

Detox

The primary goal is medical stabilization during the first stage of withdrawal treatment, which is known as detox. Expect the detox stage to last from a few days up to a week. When you arrive, your medical team—which will include doctors, nurses, and support staff— will complete your comprehensive medical assessment, which will help determine your level of addiction and additional medical needs you may have. The assessment includes a medical exam plus a urine screening for drugs.

Your medical team will monitor you 24/7 to help manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and prevent dangerous cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

Many people also experience anxiety, depression, and other emotional and psychological challenges during the detox period. Your treatment plan will also include comprehensive support to help you with these symptoms. A longer-term treatment plan will be put into place for you once you are medically stabilized.

Residential Treatment

If you and the treatment team determine that you need further medical treatment, you may continue the next stage of treatment on an inpatient basis, which might be because of co-occurring medical conditions or post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient treatment is intensive and includes 24/7 clinical monitoring. At this stage, you will start seeing a therapist regularly to help you process the emotional and psychological aspects of addiction and recovery.

Alumni

You will have the opportunity to meet other treatment center alumni during weekly support groups and social events after you complete the formal treatment program. These aftercare opportunities spent with other alumni members can help you develop new friendships and build social support with others who understand the recovery process.

Being a part of this supportive network can help you grow while focusing on your recovery and adjusting to life after the treatment program. It can also be a safe space to share relapse prevention strategies, new experiences, and techniques for stress management. Most of all, it can be a way to enjoy time with new friends.

Start Your Journey to Recovery Today

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction, Ocean Breeze Recovery can help. You can call us 24/7 at 844-554-9279 or reach us online. When you contact us, you will be connected with an addiction specialist who can work with you to help you find the right program for your needs. Call us now and start your journey to recovery today.

Sources

(n,d). Coca-Cola. Wikipedia. from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca-Cola#Coca_.E2.80.93_cocaine

(n,d). Pharmaceutical Use of Cocaine. Narcanon. from https://www.narconon.org/drug-information/cocaine-circa-1860-1900.html

(n,d). The Truth About Cocaine. Foundation for a Drug Free World. from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/cocaine/international-statistics.html

(n,d). Cocaine Withdrawal. Medline Plus. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm

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