Cocaine Withdrawal and Detox Treatment

Cocaine is a powerful and significantly addictive stimulant. Its effects on the central nervous system cause the drug’s powerful short-lived high, which can motivate individuals to use cocaine continuously or for a long period. Long-term cocaine use is associated with several dangerous long-term side effects, which underscores the importance of quitting. However, discontinuing or cutting back cocaine use can result in uncomfortable symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.

Cocaine’s effects on the body

Understanding cocaine withdrawal first requires understanding what the drug does to the body. As a potent stimulant, cocaine speeds up the activity of the brain and nervous system. This results in higher alertness, agitation, and elevated heart rate and breathing among other physical symptoms.

More importantly, cocaine also causes a surge in dopamine, which is associated with pleasure. Cocaine blocks the reuptake of dopamine, which would normally absorb and break down dopamine, leading to increased availability of it in the brain and a subsequent pleasurable sensation. Since this rush of dopamine is so rewarding, cocaine use is reinforced.

Over a long period of continuous cocaine use, the body may develop tolerance, so the same amount of cocaine no longer has the same effects. A person may start taking larger or more frequent doses to achieve the same effect. Tolerance is one of the cornerstones of addiction along with physical dependence.

What causes cocaine withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the body’s response to the absence of cocaine. It typically occurs when a person has become physically dependent on cocaine, meaning their body has grown accustomed to the use of the substance. Over time, a person might feel like they need cocaine to function normally.

When cocaine use is suddenly stopped or dramatically reduced, the body experiences a series of symptoms in response to the change. The reduced activity of the central nervous system might make an individual feel tired or fatigued and the reduction in dopamine might lead to a crash, wherein a person may experience depression because the pleasurable dopamine is no longer available.

Withdrawal increases the likelihood of relapse. The more severe the withdrawal symptoms, the more likely a person is to use cocaine to alleviate the symptoms. Severe withdrawal is associated with heavier and longer cocaine use.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal can have several unpleasant physiological and psychological effects. These include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Depressed mood
  • Sleep disturbances including insomnia, excessive sleepiness, or nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach aches
  • Increased appetite
  • Slowed reaction time

How long does cocaine withdrawal last?

Withdrawal may be different for everyone and its duration and severity depend on several factors. These include your history of cocaine use, your metabolism, age, other drugs used, method of use, and genetic factors. Generally, cocaine withdrawal goes through three discrete phases.

The crash

The crash is typically felt quickly after initially stopping cocaine use. During the crash, or comedown, a person might feel irritable, tired, and uneasy or sad. The crash can begin as quickly as 90 minutes after last cocaine use and may last up to 72 hours.


Most of the withdrawal symptoms will be felt at this stage, which typically lasts longer than the other stages, up to several weeks. Withdrawal may begin around 24 hours after last use and peaks in severity after a couple of days. During withdrawal, a person will begin to feel cravings, and the typical symptoms of reduced nervous system activity.

The extinction

The extinction phase of cocaine withdrawal can last up to four weeks or longer depending on the severity of addiction. During this phase, acute withdrawal symptoms have mostly resolved but sporadic cravings are common.
Is cocaine withdrawal lethal?
Cocaine withdrawal may be uncomfortable, but it is not often deadly. However, indirect effects of withdrawal may pose a serious health threat. For instance, a person going through withdrawal may experience persistent depressive symptoms, leading to suicidal ideation or self-harming behaviors. Withdrawal may also be complicated by cardiac issues that may require immediate medical help. The best way to avoid potentially dangerous withdrawal effects is to undergo medically supervised cocaine detox.
Cocaine detox

During medical detox, individuals undergoing withdrawal are supervised around the clock by a team of medical and addiction professionals. This can help stem or treat any potential complications. Doctors can also alleviate withdrawal symptoms using medication or other treatments, which can make it easier to safely eliminate cocaine from the body. Though there are no medications approved for cocaine withdrawal, pain, depression, or sleeplessness can be treated safely as needed with medical intervention. This reduces the chance of relapse and is typically the first step in a comprehensive addiction rehabilitation program.

Cocaine addiction can be successfully treated using a variety of cognitive and behavioral interventions. These include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): Therapy that helps a person change maladaptive ways of thinking and behaving that reinforces cocaine use.
  • Peer group therapy: Supportive group therapy, including 12-Step programs, which can foster mutual encouragement and support when quitting.
  • Contingency management: Therapy that provides incentives or rewards for continued abstinence.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): Therapy that focuses on blending principles of acceptance and change as a way to address cocaine use.
Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment at Riverwalk Ranch
A Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area Addiction Treatment Center

At Riverwalk Ranch, we treat cocaine withdrawal and addiction as part of our extensive addiction treatment services. Our center is located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where professionals use only empirically-supported treatments to help you safely and comfortably begin your journey toward recovery. Our facilities provide a comfortable safe haven to detox, surrounded by medical professionals, addiction specialists, and other like-minded individuals all working toward a healthier drug-free life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from cocaine withdrawal and addiction, don’t hesitate to contact our addiction treatment center today at (877) 863-3869. Whether Texas is your home or you’re looking for a fresh start in new surroundings, Riverwalk Ranch can provide a therapeutic and supportive home for you. Everyone deserves a happy and healthy life free from addiction, and we are committed to helping you overcome cocaine withdrawal in order to get you there.

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