Cocaine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Cocaine is an addictive stimulant drug with a variety of negative short- and long-term effects.1 When a person uses cocaine regularly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop, which can add to the challenges of quitting.1 However, treatment for cocaine addiction is available and recovery is possible.

This article will discuss the effects of cocaine and the symptoms, timeline, and treatment options for cocaine withdrawal.

How Cocaine Affects the Brain and Body

Cocaine use leads to a surge in activity of dopamine, a brain chemical involved with feelings of pleasure and reward. Cocaine does this by inhibiting dopamine reuptake into the brain cells that release it as a chemical signaler. In this manner, dopamine is blocked from being recycled as it normally would, and this leads to a buildup of dopamine in the brain.1

As a result of dopamine flooding the brain’s reward circuit, the use of cocaine is reinforced, increasing the likelihood that a person will keep using cocaine to continue having these sensations.1

What Causes Cocaine Withdrawal?

Cocaine withdrawal results from the brain’s response to the absence of cocaine. As a person becomes used to the effect of cocaine, the brain adapts to its presence and needs the substance to feel normal.3

When cocaine is stopped, the brain responds in a maladaptive way that results in a characteristic set of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.3 The severity of symptoms and length of time a person experiences cocaine withdrawal depend on numerous factors, including how much and how long cocaine is used.4

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Though people may experience cocaine withdrawal somewhat differently, several characteristic symptoms of stimulant withdrawal include:1,2,3,5

  • Anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Depressed mood.
  • Insomnia, excessive sleepiness, or nightmares.
  • Fatigue.
  • Problems with concentration and thinking.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Slow body movements.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Cravings for cocaine.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin within 24 hours after the substance was last used, with the most troublesome symptoms persisting for several days.4,5

Some people experience longer-term symptoms of withdrawal, known as protracted withdrawal, where certain symptoms can continue beyond the acute withdrawal period, lasting for several weeks to months after stopping the use of cocaine.4,5 These symptoms can include:4,5

  • Lethargy.
  • Anxiety.
  • Emotional instability.
  • Persistent depression.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Intense cravings for cocaine.

Is Cocaine Withdrawal Deadly?

Cocaine withdrawal seldom presents immediate medical risks or intense physical discomfort. However, there are some cocaine-associated withdrawal complications that could warrant closer clinical supervision or medical supervision throughout the withdrawal management period.3

One of the most significant risks of stimulant withdrawal is that some people experience a profound dysphoria depression, which may include suicidal thoughts.3

Occasionally, some people also experience cardiac issues that need urgent medical intervention.3

There is no need to go through cocaine withdrawal alone and risk having such complications. Medical detox programs can help by reducing a person’s discomfort and increasing safety during the cocaine withdrawal process.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment at Greenhouse

Some form of detox often takes place at the start of treatment for cocaine addiction, especially if other drugs that may complicate withdrawal are also being used. Detox can help a person safely withdraw from substances in a manner that is as comfortable as possible.3

There are no medications specifically approved to manage cocaine withdrawal or to treat cocaine addiction. However, some limited studies show some promise for various drugs that may help with various symptoms of withdrawal. More research is needed at this time.

When clinically significant, antidepressants can be helpful to manage the depression that sometimes develops during cocaine withdrawal.3

Behavioral therapy is a useful approach for treating cocaine addiction. Some of the therapies employed during cocaine addiction treatment include:1

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): A commonly used form of behavioral therapy for substance use disorders. CBT helps a person alter maladaptive thoughts and behavioral patterns involving drug use, as well as to develop the skills they need to avoid drug use.
  • Contingency management (CM): Provides incentives for abstinence from stimulants.
  • Therapeutic communities (TC): These offer a drug-free living environment where community members can help each other change their behaviors and better understand addiction.
  • 12-Step recovery groups: Cocaine Anonymous provides peer support and encouragement to maintain abstinence.

If you are seeking a drug rehab near Dallas, Greenhouse Treatment Center can offer you numerous options. At Greenhouse, several levels of care are available to help you address a substance use disorder. These include:

  • Inpatient rehab, where you will stay 24/7 at our facility. An average day in inpatient rehab will consist of various treatment groups and structured activities.
  • Outpatient rehab programs, in which you attend treatment for a few hours several times per week for up to 20 hours per week but go home on nights and weekends.

At Greenhouse, we also offer specialized programs, such as:

Paying for Rehab at Greenhouse Treatment Center in Texas

If you are interested in inpatient rehab or outpatient rehab at Greenhouse but are not sure how to pay for rehab, know that you have several options that include payment plans as well as using insurance to pay for rehab.

To start the admissions process, call today to speak to one of our caring admissions navigators. They can answer your addiction treatment questions and help verify your insurance. You can also .

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.

You aren't alone. You deserve to get help.
We are here to help you get clean and learn how to stay that way. Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.