Cocaine Withdrawal Signs, Symptoms & Detox Timeline

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that comes with various methods of consumption. A person who is using cocaine, can smoke it, snort it, and even inject – or vary rarely, ingest – it. With the high potential for addiction, cocaine withdrawal may occur. Cocaine withdrawal is the physical and mental obstacle that any user may experience when trying to cut down on, or quit using cocaine. Cocaine detox is the process the human body goes through, often aided by medical professionals, to purge toxins from the system.

Causes of Cocaine Withdrawal

Causes of cocaine withdrawal are limited, occurring as a result of one out of two potential inciting factors. Cocaine withdrawal can be caused by either using a large dose of cocaine and then cutting down quickly. Or withdrawal can be caused by the sudden stop of all cocaine usage – which is typically done in an effort to stop using the drug altogether. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can occur as a result of either intentional or unintentional cutback.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Many people who use cocaine are unable to stop on their own. Most withdrawal symptoms induced are the result(s) of the toxic chemicals affecting the body. And the use of cocaine comes with its own set of long and short term symptoms, signs, and side effects. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can at times mimic some of these known side effects, or intensify them. So, what are the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal?

Although symptoms of cocaine use and withdrawal can be similar, cocaine withdrawal symptoms are normally associated with psychological disturbances, rather than physical one. Symptoms such as vomiting and extreme shaking or sweating are not commonly associated with cocaine withdrawal, but some more minor physical symptoms may occur.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased cocaine use cravings
  • Restlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Slowed Thinking
  • Physical Fatigue or lack of physical activity
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Vivid nightmares or unpleasant dreams
  • Inability to experience sexual arousal
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Anhedonia or the inability to feel pleasure

Physical cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Nerve pain
  • Chills
  • Slight tremors

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

Within the cluster of cocaine withdrawal symptoms, there also emerges PAWS or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Withdrawal symptoms typically are most severe or intense, or acute, within the first days, or potentially weeks, upon initiation. Some symptoms can be more severe or long-lasting than others, dependent on the individual user.

PAWS is a reference name given to any acute withdrawal symptom that persists after the initial acute withdrawal time period has “resolved”. PAWS is often sighted to feel like a roller coaster, as symptoms may spike unexpectedly, and last for a few days at random. PAWS typically makes appearances on and off throughout the cycle of one year. People who suffer from this syndrome may also experience heightened difficulty with the following.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) symptoms can include:

  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Low Energy
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Inexplicable chronic pain
  • Decreased libido
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty thinking

Conditions that may exaggerate PAWS symptoms can include:

  • The drug itself, or drugs used in conjunction with
  • Frequency of abused substance(s) use
  • Co-occurring physical or mental health conditions
  • Acute emotional issues/instability (occuring in the first year)

In addition to these symptoms, cocaine users in recovery – who suffered from PAWS – typically struggled with impulse control as well, even after weeks of sobriety. PAWS is complex, with no apparent specific causes. Some past users can experience none of these symptoms at all, others can experience every single one. There is no one specific timeline in which PAWS directly follows.

Protracted Withdrawal

Protracted withdrawal is a term used to reference specific signs and symptoms common to acute withdrawal. These signs can be substance-specific, and generally as those that persist beyond the expected timeframes of acute withdrawal. Protracted withdrawal develops as the substance abused chemicals in the brain trying to adapt to their new normal over an extended period of time, following that of acute withdrawal symptoms. Not all past users will experience protracted withdrawal, others may experience some or all symptoms (at varying intensity and frequency), it is dependent on the individual person. Protracted withdrawal symptoms are not the same for each drug, but can be similar.

Cocaine protracted withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Emotional regulation issues
  • Impulse control issues

Protracted withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Decreased libido
  • Unexplained physical pain (or complaints)
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria
  • Anhedonia
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Impaired executive control
  • Alcohol or drug cravings
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia (or sleeping difficulties)
  • Short-term memory issues

Synonyms for protracted withdrawal can include:

  • Chronic withdrawal
  • Extended withdrawal
  • Late withdrawal
  • Long-term withdrawal
  • Persistent post-use symptoms
  • Post-acute withdrawal syndrome
  • Post use syndrome
  • Protracted abstinence
  • Sobriety-based symptoms
  • Subacute withdrawal

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms vary, depending on each individual user. The cocaine withdrawal timeline cites symptoms occurring as early as 90 minutes after each individual dose, or last dose, and how dependent the individual user is. Sometimes acute withdrawal symptoms can resolve 7 to 10 days after the last dose, but cravings and other symptoms are likely to persist suddenly, and infrequently, even after a year. The coke withdrawal timeline claims the most intense symptoms typically occur immediately after the last dose. But, the standard cocaine withdrawal timeline can be broken down into stages.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms timeline:

Stage 1:

Week 1 – “The Crash”: It is during this time that the most severe, or acute symptoms of withdrawal commonly occur. Intense cravings and the potential for relapse are high during this time. Other withdrawal symptoms that can occur include (but are not limited to):

  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Dysphoria
  • Restlessness
  • Increased Appetite
  • Exhaustion
  • Cravings
  • Intense Cocaine Cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Lethargy

Stage 2:

Week(s) 1 – 10 “The Withdrawal”: During this period of recovery, individuals often begin to notice that the initial symptoms of their withdrawal have begun to tamper down in intensity, becoming a little easier to manage. During this stage though, individuals may still experience:

  • Heightened Cocaine Cravings (intermittently)
  • Mood Swings
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal Sleep Schedule
  • Irritability

Stage 3:

Week(s) 10+ “Recovery”: At this point of the process, individuals normally see complete dissipation of all other symptoms related to the cocaine withdrawal timeline. Of course, depending on external causes or cues now, people in recovery may still experience intermittent cravings to use cocaine.

Factors that may influence the cocaine withdrawal timeline to deviate can include:

  • Length of cocaine use
  • Average cocaine dose used
  • Polysubstance dependence
  • Environment
  • Co-occurring mental of physical health issues

But, after all of this data on the stages at which different symptoms occur, how long does cocaine withdrawal last? Commonly, the average cocaine withdrawal symptoms length is nearly ten weeks, after the last dose of coke has been taken. Cocaine withdrawal duration can be subject to change though, depending on the individual, previously existing factors, and if the individual is in fact, able to refrain from using crack.

Diagnosing Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome

It has been determined that diagnosing cocaine withdrawal syndrome can come with some difficulties. Patients should be very thoroughly accessed, in order for there to be a distinction made between cocaine withdrawal symptoms, current use complications, or other medically or mentally induced issues that can occur with similar warning signs (the use of other types of drugs included). Otherwise, making a cocaine withdrawal diagnosis relates back to testing, and having a set scale of symptoms present.

Most commonly a physical examination, with note of the individual’s prior cocaine use, is made. Followed by routine testing such as:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X-Ray
  • ECG (Electrocardiogram, measuring electrical activity if the heart)
  • Cardiac Enzymes (looking for evidence of heart attack or damage)
  • Urine tests
  • Toxicology screening(s)

Symptoms looked for in diagnosing cocaine withdrawal syndrome can include (but are not limited to):

  • Agitation and restless behavior
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue
  • A general feeling of discomfort
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Slowing of activity

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear as early as 90 minutes after last use. But, just like other types of drugs, the lengthen at which withdrawal symptoms continue, depends on the individual. The symptoms include both physical and psychological effects, but tend to dominate the mind over the body when it comes to cocaine. The cocaine withdrawal duration normally lasts up to 10 weeks after the last dose. Side effects tend to come and go within the later stages of cocaine detox, varying per individual.

Cocaine Detox for Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment

Medical Detox

St. John’s Recovery Place provides safe, cocaine withdrawal treatment in our medical detox center. Clients receive around the clock care, nursing support, and medical intervention to ensure they are comfortable throughout the duration of the cocaine detoxification process.

Outpatient Detox

Some clients can safely detox from cocaine at home. While St. John’s Recovery Place does not currently offer any home or outpatient detox support services, some healthcare providers will. We recommend you speak with a treatment specialist before making any decision to detox outpatient or without medical supervision as potential side effects could arise that require specialized care. To learn more about our recovery programs and the medical detox for cocaine withdrawal at SJRP, give us a call at 833-397-3422.

Finding a Cocaine Detox Center

Your decision to get help for cocaine withdrawal is likely based on a fear that you will relapse or will not be able to sustain the entire withdrawal phase. We’re here to help you. Finding a cocaine detox center in Florida begins with a typical internet search and phone calls. When you call each center, make sure you ask important questions about their recovery program and their services. At SJRP, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about cocaine addiction treatment services. Give us a call at 833-397-3422.

References

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Medline Plus: Trusted Health Information For You. Cocaine Withdrawal.