A highly addictive stimulant, cocaine produces potent withdrawal symptoms that may be hard to recognize. Withdrawal from cocaine doesn’t present the physical, life-threatening symptoms that people can suffer when they withdraw from other addictive drugs like heroin. Cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms are primarily behavioral and psychological, but they can still lead to lasting damage if they’re not addressed. A cocaine addiction treatment program helps users go through the process of detox in a safe environment before they begin recovery.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms to Watch For
Cocaine causes the brain to release dopamine and other “feel-good” chemicals that elevate mood and cause a temporary “high” or euphoria. After a long period of cocaine use, the body and brain adjust to the substance and may require a certain amount of cocaine to function properly. This is known as dependence. Withdrawal happens when someone who is dependent on cocaine stops or drastically reduces their use.
For most people, cocaine withdrawal symptoms will begin quickly and go through three phases.
Phase 1, known as the “crash,” can start as soon as 90 minutes after the person’s last dose. Symptoms may include:
- Depression after the removal of dopamine
- Increased appetite
- Strong cravings
These symptoms may lessen after about seven to 10 days.
Phase 2 is the extended withdrawal period, which can last up to 10 weeks. Symptoms are similar to the cocaine withdrawal symptoms present in the “crash” period but may be more persistent and include:
- Erratic sleep and unpleasant dreams
- Mood swings
- Inability to experience pleasure or sexual arousal
- Extreme depression and suicidal thoughts
Phase 3, or the “extinction” phase, can last up to six months. In this period, cocaine withdrawal symptoms and cravings will gradually decrease.
Some users will have more severe cocaine addiction withdrawal than others. The strength of withdrawal symptoms varies depending on:
- The length and frequency of cocaine use
- The amount of cocaine used
- Other substances the person used, like heroin or alcohol
- Any co-occurring physical or mental health conditions
Risks of Cocaine Addiction Withdrawal
While cocaine addiction withdrawal doesn’t usually endanger a person’s life, it can present complications that vary from person to person. Here are the most dangerous risks to watch out for:
- Cardiac issues like arrhythmias, especially if the person was using cocaine and alcohol together
- Suicidal thoughts, intentions, and actions—especially with co-occurring depression or when detoxing from multiple substances
- Paranoia, violence, and aggression
Treatment centers can monitor clients for these symptom escalations, and medical professionals are aware of the increased risk of suicidal actions. They’ll make sure the client is safe and secure during withdrawal. Depression can last for months after cocaine use stops, so early intervention and treatment are crucial.
How Does Cocaine Addiction Treatment Work?
Many people recovering from cocaine addictions can find effective treatment in outpatient programs. Clients live at home while receiving treatment in a day or evening program that’s less restrictive than inpatient rehab.
Motivational incentives, or rewards for periods of sobriety, may be used in cocaine addiction treatment programs to give clients extra encouragement. For clients with lingering symptoms of depression, antidepressant medications can work alongside therapy and counseling to help them return to a more normal baseline.
Doctors can prescribe other medications to help lessen the pain of some cocaine withdrawal symptoms like insomnia or narcolepsy. There are no specific medications approved for cocaine detox, but behavioral treatment is usually highly effective.
Start Recovery at Greater Boston Addiction Centers
Whether clients are experiencing withdrawal for the first time or have tried to stop using cocaine before, the expert medical staff at Greater Boston Addiction Centers will put them on the right treatment path. Withdrawal can last for months, and our extended treatment programs help clients build coping skills and techniques to manage cravings in healthy ways. Learn more about our outpatient and partial hospitalization programs by contacting 877.920.6583 to begin the recovery process for yourself or someone you love.