Drug and Alcohol

Cocaine Withdrawal: The Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment for Withdrawing From Cocaine

What is Cocaine Withdrawal Like?

Cocaine withdrawal is a tough (but necessary) part of recovery. It's also easier when done with the right help. Learn more in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

October 2, 2023

Withdrawal. If you’ve ever been through it, you know.

Getting drugs out of a person’s system is critical for rehab to even have a chance of working. Unfortunately, when drugs like cocaine leave a person’s system, it throws their body into shock as it tries to rebalance itself without drugs.

Cocaine is no different. While not as bad or as dangerous as alcohol, opioid, or benzo withdrawal, cocaine withdrawal is still a difficult and uncomfortable process. Granted, going through cocaine withdrawal with professional help makes the process easier to bear (and a lot more likely to be successful).

Knowing what to expect from cocaine withdrawal also helps. Here’s a guide to what to expect from cocaine withdrawal.

What Is Cocaine?

Cocaine is a widely used substance that comes in various forms. It is a central nervous system stimulant in the tropane alkaloid class. It is a drug made from the leaves of two kinds of coca plant species native to South America. These two species are known as Erythroxylum coca and E. novogranatense.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that nearly 15 percent of people in our country have tried cocaine in their lifetime.

Cocaine is a recreational drug that has a restriction on its use. Most people who use cocaine obtain it from illegal sources and traffickers. It is known by many street names like Snow, blow, coke, C, and Flake. 

What Is Cocaine Withdrawal Like?

Cocaine withdrawal can be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. People who are addicted to cocaine typically experience strong cravings, intense psychological distress, anxiety, and depression. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, changes in appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, irritability or agitation, restlessness or extreme agitation (AKA “the shakes”).

Additionally, people who were previously addicted to cocaine may also experience powerful cravings for the drug that can be difficult to ignore. Cocaine withdrawal can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months depending on the severity of addiction and how long it has been going on for. During this time, it is important for people in recovery to have access to emotional and medical support to help them cope with the difficult symptoms of cocaine withdrawal and manage their cravings.

In extreme cases, people going through cocaine withdrawal may experience hallucinations or seizures caused by the changes in the brain chemistry that occur during withdrawal. It is important that they receive professional medical attention immediately if these types of symptoms occur.

Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments and therapies available to help people in recovery from cocaine addiction. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, support groups, and medications for managing cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

By committing to a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction, individuals can make progress toward lasting sobriety and a healthy life free from the grips of cocaine addiction.

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The 3 Phases of Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal is different for everybody, but most people pass through three distinct phases of cocaine withdrawal:

The Crash (Aka Cocaine Comedown)

This first phase of cocaine withdrawal happens very quickly. Known as a cocaine comedown, the crash is when a cocaine user feels tired, exhausted, anxious, and irritable.

Cocaine Withdrawal

This is the phase when a person undergoes cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Professional medical detox makes this phase easier.


During this stage of cocaine withdrawal, a person deals with occasional cravings for cocaine. For a person in drug rehab, they've learned some of the positive coping skills and strategies that will serve them during a long, happy life in recovery.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Take?

Cocaine withdrawal can be an incredibly difficult process. Many people experience intense cravings, depression, anxiety, and other uncomfortable symptoms as their body attempts to adjust to the lack of cocaine in their system. So how long does it typically take for these symptoms to pass?

The duration of cocaine withdrawal is highly variable depending on a number of factors such as the severity of addiction, individual physiology, and nature of use. Generally, cocaine withdrawal will start to ease within one to two weeks after the last use. However, it is not uncommon for psychological cravings to linger much longer than that, sometimes up to several months or even years.

Therefore, the best way to cope with cocaine withdrawal is by seeking help from a qualified healthcare professional. With proper guidance and support, you can manage the symptoms of withdrawal and create a plan for long-term recovery from addiction.

It’s also important to note that cocaine is considered one of the most difficult drugs to successfully quit due to its highly addictive nature. In addition to dealing with potentially intense cravings, some users may also experience depression or anxiety during withdrawal, so it is important to have the right support in place before attempting to quit.

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Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

The timeline of cocaine withdrawal can vary greatly from person to person, but here are some of the most common stages:

Day 1: Cravings typically begin to peak and can last over a week.

Days 2-7: Withdrawal symptoms such as depression, anxiety, irritability, fatigue, and disturbed sleep patterns may appear at this stage.

Week 2-4: Cravings may start to ease and psychological symptoms can begin to subside.

Month 1 and longer: Psychological cravings may still be present, but should become more manageable with time.

It is important to remember that everyone’s experience with cocaine withdrawal will be different and it might take longer than a month for some people to fully recover.

Coping with Cocaine Withdrawal

When it comes to cocaine withdrawal, the best way to cope is by seeking professional help from a qualified healthcare provider. A doctor or therapist can provide you with guidance and support throughout the process of recovery. They may also prescribe medications to help alleviate some of the physical symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, and depression.

In addition to seeking professional help, there are also some lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your withdrawal symptoms. Exercise, healthy eating, and engaging in enjoyable activities such as reading or watching movies can all be beneficial in reducing cravings and improving your overall mood.

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How Does Cocaine Addiction Develop?

Cocaine is a powerful stimulant whose consumption leads to a rapid increase in energy and alertness. It improves both the mood and energy of the user. This is the precise reason behind the high addiction rates.

The heightened feeling achieved by using cocaine can be very addictive. After using it for the first time, many people start regularly using cocaine. Unfortunately, this leads to tolerance, where their systems become so used to cocaine, that they have to take higher doses to achieve the same effect. This repetitive behavior quickly turns into addiction.

Even though there is no single reason for the development of cocaine addiction, certain factors can increase its chances. These factors influence an individual's chances of getting affected by it. First, those with a family history of abuse and addiction. Genes are a big factor that can be passed down the generation. Secondly, mental health illness can be a big cause and can increase the risk of addiction.

Lastly, people who are already addicted to alcohol or any other form of drugs are vulnerable to becoming addicted to cocaine. 

What Does Cocaine Do?

The stimulating effect of cocaine results from dopamine, a naturally occurring substance in our brains. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for emotions like euphoria, reward processing and cues, and movement regulation. Cocaine increases the concentration of dopamine levels. This increases the feeling of euphoria and satisfaction.

This happens because cocaine blocks the neurotransmitter from being consumed by the nerve cells. It allows them to accumulate around the nerve cell instead. This leads to euphoria. 

However, this feeling does not remain the same way. Soon the user can experience unpleasant side effects and reactions like agitation, irritability, confusion, and anxiety. If a person tries to stop its use, they may experience cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

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Are There Different Types of Cocaine?

Yes, there are different forms of cocaine. The main types of cocaine are powder cocaine (also known as “coke”) and crack cocaine. Both forms produce a powerful high but have very different effects on the body.

Powder cocaine is usually snorted or injected and produces a short-acting euphoric rush that lasts for minutes before gradually wearing off. Crack cocaine is smoked and produces a more intense but shorter-lasting high.

No matter what type of cocaine someone is using, they are still at risk for experiencing withdrawal symptoms once they stop using and should seek professional help if needed.

What Are the Symptoms of Cocaine Abuse?

Cocaine’s danger is it can appear harmless during its initial use. A harmless experimentation or curiosity can lead to a lifelong dependency on it. Cocaine addiction is one of the most serious forms of substance abuse, leading to thousands of deaths over several years. There are many potentially life-threatening side effects of using cocaine. This is barring the financial, legal, and personal troubles one might face during the addiction. 

Cocaine abuse has signs and symptoms that can help a person escape the clutches. Common signs of cocaine abuse may include dilated pupils, paranoia, white powder around the nose, over-excitement, lower appetite, wakefulness, overconfidence, sniffles, legal issues, irritability, missing work or late, depression, financial troubles, and mood swings.

Apart from the signs, there are symptoms of cocaine addiction. These are:

  • Disappearing from social events.

  • Inability to stop cocaine usage.

  • Tolerance building and consuming large amounts of cocaine.

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

  • Drastically negative impact on work, family, and friends. 

  • Sending time and money on procuring cocaine.

  • Experiencing psychosis or hallucinations.

  • Continue the use even after having adverse side effects.

What Are Some Cocaine Side Effects?

The biggest reason behind cocaine being a dangerous drug is its harmful side effects. Addiction can cause long- and short-term health complications that affect the brain and body of the user. These side effects can range from overdosing on the substance to organ failure.

There are many dangers associated with cocaine abuse. For instance, cocaine use leads to high blood pressure because it constricts the blood vessels. Its use can also damage a person's septum and nasal cavity. The onset of cocaine effects can set in as quickly as it wears off, only around thirty minutes. Most users consume cocaine in small doses to achieve short-term happiness, increased concentration levels, and lowered sleep needs.

A few side effects of using cocaine are as follows:

Psychological Effects of Cocaine

Psychological effects may include panic, hallucination, irritability, paranoia, anxiety, depression, impaired judgment, and abnormal behavior. 

Physical Effects of Cocaine

Physical effects may include weight loss, chest pain, increased heart rate, headaches, abdominal pain, heart arrhythmia, seizure, heart attack, and stroke. 

Medical Complications Cocaine Causes

Cocaine is also associated with medical conditions like hepatitis, weakened immune systems, respiratory diseases, and gangrene of the bowels. 

Cocaine Addiction Treatment & Recovery

Cocaine addiction is a severe and complex disease that is difficult to overcome. It affects a person's mental, physical, and behavioral faculties and can be hard to overcome. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available for this.

With proper and effective treatment, it becomes easier to quit the drug altogether. Every patient has varying needs and health conditions. This is why it is essential that you know the below-mentioned queries before selecting any treatment center.

  • The length of the program

  • Methods of funding treatment

  • Insurance eligibility to cover treatment

  • Addressing any special needs or underlying conditions.

Cocaine addiction is a complicated disorder that requires a variety of treatment methods. These methods cover and address all the components of addiction.

These are:

Treatment Facilities

There are two kinds of treatment facilities. The first type is inpatient, where a patient resides in the rehab to receive treatment. The other type is outpatient, where the patient does not reside in the facility. They come to the drug rehab to receive treatment.

Drug Treatment

Behavioral counseling and treatment are essential to recovery. It addresses the psychological part of our health that has been damaged because of cocaine addiction. It is best to receive this service through a residential program. Behavioral treatment includes meeting goals, managing triggers, learning coping skills, cognitive behavioral therapy, and educational sessions on addiction as a disease.  

Prescription Medications

There are no FDA-approved medications to treat or cure a condition like cocaine disorder. However, some medications can help a person manage their underlying mental or physical health condition. These include antidepressants and more. 

Alternative Therapies

Some people prefer alternative therapies instead of normal therapies. These include exercising regime, equine therapy, hypnosis, acupuncture, and herbs. There are still questions and debates regarding the effectiveness of these therapies, but some people still prefer them. 

Don't Let Cocaine Take Over Your Life. Get Through Cocaine Withdrawal with The Edge Treatment Center

Cocaine addiction can be incredibly difficult to overcome, but with help, it is possible. At The Edge Treatment Center, we understand the unique needs of people struggling with cocaine addiction and have created a comprehensive treatment program that meets those needs.

Our program includes evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing as well as individual counseling sessions, group therapy, and holistic therapies such as yoga and mindfulness. We also provide 24-hour medical supervision to ensure that our clients have a safe and comfortable experience.

If you or someone you know is struggling with cocaine addiction, we encourage you to reach out for help. Our compassionate team of professionals at The Edge Treatment Center can provide the support and guidance needed to begin your journey toward a healthier, happier life in recovery. Contact us today to get started.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.