Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is originally derived from a coco plant that is native to South America. It is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it is an extremely addictive substance that has a high potential for abuse. Someone who engages in excessive and frequent cocaine use can build a tolerance and will need more of the drug in order to feel the desired effects. It is likely that this will lead to the development of a dependence on the substance.
If they attempt to stop their cocaine abuse or reduce the amount they are taking, they will experience cocaine withdrawal, a series of psychological and physical symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal can be an uncomfortable experience. However, with the right help and support, these symptoms can be controlled and managed, easing them into the first stage of cocaine addiction treatment. This page will explore what cocaine withdrawal is, different cocaine withdrawal symptoms, and treatments available for cocaine addiction.
What is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Cocaine withdrawal is often experienced by individuals who have developed a physical dependence on the substance. Dependence on cocaine develops when a person regularly abuses cocaine over a long period of time, this often means that they have to rely on the drug to feel ‘normal’ and to function in their day-to-day lives. This develops for different people at different rates due to individual factors, such as genetics.
Cocaine use increases the activity of the natural chemical dopamine within specific brain circuits that are associated with motivation and reward. These increases in dopamine reinforce the continued use of cocaine and, over time, the brain adapts to having excess dopamine within the system and becomes less sensitive to the substance, resulting in users having to take more in a bid to avoid the onset of withdrawal symptoms.
As a result of a build-up of tolerance and the need to use the substance to feel ‘normal’, users often experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms when they make the decision to stop taking the substance. Some people continue their cocaine abuse to avoid any withdrawal symptoms from quitting. It is important to note that with the right help and support you can learn to effectively manage and control the negative side effects that cocaine users typically experience when they stop taking the substance.
What Are Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms?
There is a range of psychological and physical symptoms that a person may experience as part of their cocaine withdrawal syndrome. While withdrawal from a stimulant addiction may not present itself as severe as other types of acute withdrawal syndromes, such as alcohol withdrawal, cocaine withdrawal symptoms are still an uncomfortable experience. Some withdrawal symptoms that a person may experience include:
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Increased anxiety
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Memory problems
- Cocaine cravings
- Increased appetite
- Disrupted sleep, periods of hypersomnia or insomnia
- Suicidal thoughts
Some physical health complications can arise during the process of substance withdrawal. These symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Nerve pain
The severity of the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will vary depending on the individual. Factors such as general health, age, the amount of cocaine used, and how long they have been abusing cocaine, all influence these symptoms of withdrawal. Other factors influencing the severity include how the drug was administered and whether the person used other substances alongside cocaine.
Related: Dangers of snorting cocaine
Is Cocaine Withdrawal Dangerous?
Compared to the moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms that are often associated with substances such as opioids, alcohol, or benzodiazepines, withdrawing from stimulants does not include symptoms that are deemed medically dangerous. However, most individuals experience withdrawal differently, and the various factors that we have discussed can cause a person to experience more severe symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.
Some psychological symptoms that may be dangerous are what doctors call ‘dysphoria’, some individuals may experience depressive symptoms that are accompanied by negative feelings and thoughts, including suicidal thoughts, increasing the risk of suicide.
Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline
The withdrawal process from cocaine typically begins as soon as a few hours after stopping the use of the substance. However, the most intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms are present throughout the first month of quitting cocaine. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can last for months after someone’s last dose. The typical withdrawal process follows a timeline:
One to Three Hours After the Last Dose
Symptoms can present themselves as soon as cocaine use is stopped. Within this period, users can feel anxious, irritable, and exhausted. They may also experience an increased appetite.
Intense cocaine cravings are typically experienced within the first week of quitting the substance. Moreover, although an individual may be feeling exhausted, they will probably have issues with falling asleep and sleeping. It is common to experience unpleasant and vivid dreams alongside depressive mood swings.
Weeks Two to Four
Intense cocaine cravings continue into these weeks as well as depression symptoms. Individuals in this stage of their cocaine detox also experience poor concentration, agitation, and irritability.
Weeks Five to Ten
Any symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will slowly start to diminish within this period as the body and mind begin to heal. However, it is possible to still experience slight cocaine cravings within this period. General anxiety may also be experienced at certain points.
Treatment for Cocaine Addiction
If left untreated, drug abuse can worsen over time, increasing the adverse side effects and the risk of experiencing an overdose. However, the addiction treatment process can support and guide you into living a happy and healthy future.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, treatment should encompass both mental health and medical services with follow-up options being a crucial part of treatment for success.
Detox programs are the first stage of any ‘substance abuse’ disorder treatment. Within the detox period, the body is able to rid itself of the substance and any remaining toxins. Medical detox allows for this process to be carried out with the supervision of medical professionals who are able to help patients manage the symptoms of their cocaine withdrawal.
Within a medically supervised detox, you will be provided with a set of interventions to help effectively manage and control cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals can watch over you and respond to any health complications that occur.
For some people, the most difficult cocaine withdrawal symptoms that they will encounter during their cocaine detox are intense cravings or symptoms of depression and anxiety. Within a medical detox, you may be prescribed certain medications to help alleviate these symptoms.
Once a detox has been completed, you will begin your course of treatment. The most effective form of treatment is an individualized treatment plan that caters to your personal needs and goals. Treatment centers utilize a range of evidence-based behavioral therapies that help tackle the root cause of addiction. Therapies that are used include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Support groups
- Family therapy
- Inpatient treatment
These forms of therapy help individuals change their thoughts, attitudes, feelings, and behaviors around ‘substance abuse’ and cocaine, they aim to teach healthy and effective coping skills which can then be utilized in everyday life once treatment has ended.
Depending on personal factors, treatment providers may opt for a medication-assisted treatment process which is a combination of addiction medicine and therapy. Although medications can be used to treat certain substance use disorders and can be administered for individuals who are living with a co-occurring mental health disorder, there are currently no FDA-approved medications used to specifically treat a stimulant use disorder. However, various medications may be administered as a relief for specific issues, such as insomnia, to help a patient feel comfortable in the early stages of their recovery.
Drug Abuse Treatment at Brookdale
Brookdale offers an array of addiction treatment options for clients who are wanting to begin their journey to lifelong recovery. We understand that addiction treatment is not a one size fits all approach so ensure that a personalized treatment plan is in place for your experience in a safe and comfortable retreat-like setting that typically mirrors your usual living standards and caters to your needs for convenience and privacy.
We offer discrete and sophisticated executive-level care carried out by our team of exceptional experts in a luxury setting. Our detox programs prepare our clients for the next stage in their recovery. Our goal is to provide each of our clients with quality, compassionate care that ensures safety and comfort, specifically throughout the withdrawal process. Alongside 24-hour nursing and medical supervision, each client will be seen by liaison personnel throughout their detox experience.
Following a detox, our residential treatment program utilizes a comprehensive and humanistic approach to care that is tailored to meet individuals’ needs. We incorporate a number of therapeutic techniques into our addiction treatment, such as 12-step integration and evidence-based treatment, as part of the healing process.
If you believe you or a loved one is living with a ‘substance abuse’ disorder, then contact us today to discuss our addiction treatment options and find out how we can help you on your recovery journey.