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Cocaine Withdrawal | Psychological & Physiological Symptoms

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Cocaine addiction is a serious issue that affects thousands of people each year. When someone decides to quit using cocaine, they may experience a range of psychological and physiological symptoms as the body adjusts to being without the drug. 

It is important for cocaine users to have an understanding of these withdrawal symptoms so that they can make informed decisions and be prepared for any challenges they may face during their recovery process. 

Let’s take a look at the psychological and physiological signs of cocaine withdrawal. 

What is Cocaine used for?

Cocaine, otherwise known as benzoylmethylecgonine, is a naturally occurring stimulant derived from the coca plant. Though it is most commonly thought of as a recreational drug due to its ability to act as a powerful mood enhancer and increase energy, it is used in the medical field for several purposes.

For instance, cocaine is used as an anesthetic prior to surgery. During labor and childbirth, it helps reduce pain and strain by numbing the cervix and, in some cases, decreasing the chance of hemorrhage during delivery of the placenta. 

Sadly, despite being medically useful in these limited contexts, cocaine is highly addictive and can cause health issues such as hypertension and increased stress levels if taken on a regular basis. 

Its application in medicine therefore should be carefully regulated by qualified healthcare professionals to prevent any harm that could result from misuse such as withdrawal and overdose.

What is Cocaine withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occur when a person who has been using cocaine for an extended period of time suddenly stops taking the drug. Cocaine dependence occurs over time and leads to a variety of physical and psychological symptoms that take place when the user quits taking the drug. 

Is it common to have Cocaine withdrawal? 

It is very common to experience some degree of cocaine withdrawal when discontinuing its use. As cocaine is a highly addictive substance that often alters brain chemistry in case of prolonged exposure.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms can depend on several factors such as the duration and amount of time a person has been using the drug, their method of administration (whether snorting it or injecting it), their mental health history and any pre-existing medical conditions they may have. 

For example, those who have used a high dose of cocaine over an extended period of time may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms than those who have only recently stopped using it. 

Cocaine use also carries a high risk of overdose if too much of the drug is taken at once; symptoms of a cocaine overdose include chest pain, difficulty breathing and seizures that could potentially result in death without medical intervention. 

Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal:

While there is no single set of symptoms experienced by all cocaine users, some of the most common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are:

Psychological symptoms

Cocaine being a powerful stimulant is known to significantly affect the human brain. Psychological symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can manifest in the following form:


One of the most common psychological symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal is depression. This can manifest in different ways, such as feelings of sadness or hopelessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep patterns. These feelings can be intense and can last for several weeks after quitting cocaine use. 


Cravings are also a common symptom of cocaine withdrawal—and one that can be particularly difficult to overcome. Cravings are caused by changes in brain chemistry due to the absence of the drug, but they can also be triggered by environmental cues such as seeing or smelling something that reminds you of taking cocaine. 

Having an understanding and awareness of your triggers is key to managing cravings during withdrawal from cocaine use. 


People who are withdrawing from cocaine may experience intense agitation and restlessness, which can manifest as an inability to sit still, a feeling of being rushed or hurried, difficulty completing tasks that require concentration, speaking quickly and in a pressured way, and experiencing mood swings.


Additionally, anxiety is another common symptom associated with cocaine withdrawal. This can manifest in different ways such as feeling nervous or on edge, having difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, or experiencing racing thoughts or panic attacks. 

It’s also not uncommon for those going through cocaine withdrawal to suffer from paranoia, vivid dreams, or hallucinations due to their altered mental state during this time. 


People going through cocaine withdrawal are at an increased risk for experiencing psychosis related symptoms such as paranoia, auditory hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking patterns as a result of changes in neurotransmitter activity associated with quitting cocaine use . 

Physiological symptoms

The physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can be difficult to deal with, as the human body reacts to the sudden removal of this drug in potentially harmful ways. Most commonly, people experience:

  • Muscle aches especially in neck, shoulders, and lower back
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Weight loss
  • Increased heart and blood pressure rates
  • Dilated pupils
  • Seizures 
  • Increased risk of stroke 
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

In some individuals who are heavy users or even addicted to cocaine over longer periods of time the physical effects can manifest themselves in more extreme forms depending on their individual chemistry. No matter what state one may find themselves in while going through this process it is advisable to seek out professional medical advice before moving forward with cocaine withdrawal as there could be risks involved that only a doctor would know about.

How to manage Cocaine withdrawal? 

Cocaine withdrawal is a difficult process to manage and it can be physically and emotionally taxing. Managing cocaine withdrawal starts with identifying any co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety that may contribute to the cravings experienced when getting off cocaine.

It is important to build a strong support system that includes family members and friends who can provide encouragement throughout the process. Professional therapy can also help individuals learn coping strategies and develop healthier approaches to managing their stress levels in the future. 

In addition to therapy there are a few other methods that can help manage cocaine withdrawal symptoms such as exercise, nutrition therapy and relaxation techniques like mindfulness meditation or yoga. 

Exercise helps reduce tension and improve sleep patterns which in turn can reduce cravings for cocaine or other substances. Eating a healthy diet consisting of low glycemic index foods plus an adequate intake of proteins and micronutrients is also important for helping promote healthy brain functioning which reduces cravings related to cocaine abuse. 

Regular relaxation sessions using mindfulness based approaches have been proven helpful in reducing cravings in those struggling with substance use disorder by reducing anxiety levels that often accompany craving episodes. 

Finally, it is essential to identify triggers associated with drug use (e.g., people or places) so individuals can seek alternate activities when they feel tempted to return to abusing cocaine while going through the withdrawal process. 

Withdrawal from drugs in general takes time and patience so it’s important not to be discouraged if progress seems slow at first; every little step counts towards recovery!

How long can Cocaine withdrawal symptoms last? 

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can range from uncomfortable to debilitating depending on the user’s history of usage. Over time, heavy cocaine users develop an intense physical and psychological dependence that requires professional medical help for recovery. 

The duration of cocaine withdrawal symptoms and their intensity vary from user to user, but generally last around seven days after the last dose, with significant cravings lasting up to four to five weeks. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Cocaine withdrawal is the process a person undergoes when they stop taking cocaine after periods of regular use. It is usually marked by a variety of physical and psychological symptoms as the body adjusts to being without the drug. 

The timeline for cocaine withdrawal varies from person to person, but typically lasts 2-4 weeks with the most acute symptoms occurring during the first 5-7 days. 

Day 1

Immediately after stopping or reducing cocaine use, people may experience extreme cravings for the drug as well as fatigue. They may also feel agitated, restless, and irritable. During this time, users are likely to experience strong cravings and an increased urge to use cocaine again in order to escape these uncomfortable feelings. 

Week 1

Over the course of week one, users may begin to experience depression, anxiety and mood swings as well as an increase in mental fog and confusion. Physical symptoms may include restlessness, aches and pains throughout their body, insomnia, nausea and chronic headaches. 

Week 2-3

During this time users are likely to experience cravings that come in waves while also feeling fatigued and drained of energy. Appetite changes can occur at this point with some individuals losing their appetite almost entirely or having intense cravings for certain foods or drinks such as sugar-rich beverages or high-fat junk food. 

Anxiety levels can remain elevated during this period with some experiencing panic attacks or other extreme fear responses in certain situations that weren’t previously experienced before quitting cocaine. 

Week 4

By now most of the physical symptoms should have subsided but psychological side effects such as depression can remain for weeks afterwards with some people struggling for months or even years afterwards due to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). 

At this stage people may also struggle with sleep disturbances such as vivid dreams or nightmares which can keep them up at night even if they are physically exhausted from lack of sleep during earlier stages of withdrawal. 

It is important to note that during any phase of withdrawal it is essential that users seek out medical help if they feel overwhelmed by any emotional side effects or physical pain/discomfort since these symptoms have been known to lead to suicidal ideation among some people who attempt quitting on their own without professional guidance and support.

Cocaine Detoxification  

Cocaine detoxification is the process of enabling abusers to break free from their drug addiction and regain control of their lives. The key elements to be successful in cocaine detox are a strong sense of commitment, healthy lifestyle changes, and an appropriate recovery plan. Patients require close monitoring during the rehabilitation process, as it can sometimes be difficult and uncomfortable.

It’s important for those considering getting help for their drug use to understand the importance of seeking assistance through a professional facility. Specialized facilities offer detox programs supervised by health professionals equipped with the knowledge, discipline, and experience needed to assist individuals during this complex detox process. 

Not only do they supervise the initial withdrawal period, but they also provide support throughout treatment in order to aid in sustained abstinence and ensure these individuals are able to maintain healthy lifestyles afterwards.

What is safe to ingest during Cocaine detox?

When going through a cocaine detox, it is safe to ingest heavily nutritious food and drink as much fluids as you can. Eating a balanced diet will help nourish the body and give it much-needed energy while allowing it to recover from the effects of cocaine use. 

Generally speaking, the safest and most beneficial thing for someone going through a cocaine detox is to focus on eating healthy nutrient-dense foods and drinking plenty of water. A variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates, nuts, seeds and healthy fats can all aid in an effective detoxification process. 

In addition to eating nutrient-rich foods, other supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and magnesium may be taken to support recovery. 

What you should avoid during Cocaine detox?

Generally it is advised that you should avoid certain substances during a cocaine detox, such as stimulants like caffeine or nicotine should be avoided due to their ability to increase alertness and agitation. 

Additionally, alcohol and other drugs should be avoided as they can put the user at risk for further substance abuse issues. Some substances may interact negatively with medications used during detox, so it’s best to check with your doctor before taking any other medication. 

Caffeinated drinks should also be avoided as they can increase heart rate and blood pressure which could be dangerous when coming off certain drugs like cocaine. Sugary drinks should also be avoided as they can cause spikes in energy that can result in increased cravings for the drug being detoxed from. 

Lastly, any street drugs should be strictly avoided as these can contain toxic chemicals that could worsen withdrawal symptoms or lead to an overdose.

Bottom Line: Managing Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal can be an emotionally tumultuous experience as well as a physically draining one if not managed correctly. It’s important for anyone considering stopping their use of the drug to research the potential psychological and physiological effects beforehand so that they know what they might be facing when they begin their path toward recovery from addiction. 

Having a support system in place is essential during this process in order to ensure that users remain on track and don’t relapse back into old habits out of frustration at the intensity of these effects—or worse—out of fear that they won’t ever return back to normal again without their drug of choice. 

Ultimately however, by understanding what lies ahead before beginning your journey towards sobriety you will put yourself in a much better position mentally and physically throughout this entire process!


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.