Cocaine Withdrawal Explained

Cocaine is a drug that is used recreationally. But some who use it don’t experience withdrawal symptoms because they do not use it often enough to exhibit signs of dependence. Heavy cocaine users, on the other hand, will often experience a range of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms when they stop using cocaine.

Withdrawal is an innate part of the first step of healing: detox. Though its focus is often the physical adjustment of the body to the absence of cocaine, it is also a time when many patients begin laying the foundation for the therapeutic growth to come during treatment.

Man snorting cocaine

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal can be uncomfortable because of the symptoms associated with it. By detoxing in a medically-supervised environment, under the watchful care of an experienced, compassionate staff, withdrawal symptoms become more manageable. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Altered eating habits
  • Altered sleep habits
  • Intense dreams and/or nightmares
  • Lowered activity levels and focus ability
  • Cravings for cocaine
  • Suicidal thoughts or tendencies1

The timeline for withdrawal symptoms varies depending on the person, the length of time he has been using and how much cocaine is his system. A cocaine high only lasts between five and 30 minutes depending on whether is it snorted or smoked;so cravings for more cocaine can begin quite quickly.2

Other Drugs of Abuse

Cocaine may be the primary drug of abuse, but it may also be one of multiple substances of abuse for the patient. In this case, the experience of cocaine withdrawal symptoms and detox may be altered due to the effect of the other drugs.

For example, many people addicted to cocaine use the drug in social contexts and drink alcohol simultaneously. As a result, many patients enter drug rehab with a dual drug dependence on both cocaine and alcohol. For them, the experience of detox will be slightly different than for patients who are dependent solely on alcohol or cocaine. They may experience some of the withdrawal symptoms listed above more acutely and/or they may also experience additional withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol detox.

Other Disorders

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may also be impacted by the existence of co-occurring mental health disorders. For example, if someone is living with depression as well as cocaine dependence, when she attempts to stop using cocaine, the commonly experienced withdrawal symptom of depression may be much more prevalent as compared to other patients in cocaine detox who are not diagnosed with depression.

Because the symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders are often intertwined with the issues related to addiction, it is recommended that patients with a co-occurring disorders undergo treatment in a specialized facility that is equipped to treat both diagnoses simultaneously. That is, if the patient is attempting cocaine detox but also experiences extreme mental health symptoms that predate or are worsened by drug use, then a specialized treatment program is recommended in order to give the patient the best chance at true healing. By treating both disorders together, patients can learn how one affects or triggers the other and better understand themselves as well as how to move forward in their own wellness.

Treatment Is Key

It can be difficult to navigate the withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine detox without the professional medical and psychotherapeutic support of substance abuse treatment specialists. Around-the-clock support is often necessary to assure adherence to the program in the first weeks. After physical withdrawal symptoms fade, ongoing therapy and treatment are the most effective path to long-term sobriety.

If you, or your loved one, are living with cocaine dependence, don’t wait to seek treatment. Callus at Michael’s House today at our 24 hour, toll-free helpline. We want to help youlearn more about how we approach cocaine rehab and how we can help your family start the healing process.


1Cocaine withdrawal.” Medline Plus. 3 October 32017. Accessed 27 October 2017.

1What is cocaine?” National Institute on Drug Abuse. June 2016. Accessed 27 October 2017.