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Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal can be very difficult for a person to go through. Because the symptoms are not as obvious or physical as the symptoms that come from something like alcohol withdrawal, many people do not believe that cocaine withdrawal is very dangerous. But the experience can be very difficult for someone and possibly even life-threatening. If you believe someone you know is experiencing withdrawal from cocaine, it is important to look for the symptoms.

What is Cocaine Withdrawal?

When a person experiences withdrawal from a drug, it means that he or she was likely taking large amounts of it, was physically dependent on it, and has suddenly stopped taking the drug. Cocaine withdrawal happens to heavy cocaine users who are dependent on the drug after they stop taking it. Because the symptoms are not obvious, many people suffer through cocaine withdrawal without others knowing exactly what they are going through.

The NLM states that “in the past, people underestimated… how addictive cocaine can be.” Now we know that cocaine addiction is serious and its withdrawal symptoms require treatment.

Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal

drug cravings for cocaine

Cravings are a common part of cocaine withdrawal.

As stated by the NLM, here are the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal:

  • “Slowing of activity”
  • Nightmares, “vivid and unpleasant dreams”
  • Dysphoric mood
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Malaise
  • Increase in appetite
  • Cravings
  • Depression

Withdrawal symptoms like nightmares, agitation, and appetite increase may last for a week or so. The strongest symptoms will be the cravings and the depression. These symptoms “can last for months following cessation of long-term heavy use (particularly daily).”

The AGDH breaks cocaine withdrawal into three phases. They are:

  • Phase one: “the crash”
    • This includes most of the symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine including the fatigue, exhaustion, increase in appetite, and depression.
  • Phase two: “withdrawal”
    • This stage is usually the time where the person feels strong cravings and depression for “up to 10 weeks.”
  • Phase three: “extinction”
    • Here, users may still feel cravings but they are less intense and usually caused by something external to the individual.

Dangers of Cocaine Withdrawal

When a person goes through withdrawal from cocaine, he or she may become severely depressed. According to the NLM, “withdrawal symptoms may also be associated with suicidal thoughts in some people.” This is usually where cocaine withdrawal can become life-threatening.

Also cravings continue for months after the initial withdrawal symptoms subside. This could lead an individual back to the drug, causing relapse. If the person takes the drug during this time though, “the ‘high’ associated with ongoing use becomes less and less pleasant.” The person may experience paranoia or terror instead of the euphoria he or she is used to. Even still, the cravings will remain which can lead a person to relapse and possible overdose, as he or she will not be as tolerant of the drug’s effects as before.

Cocaine withdrawal and addiction does require treatment just as that from any drug does. People who go into treatment, either at an inpatient or outpatient facility, experience a better chance of recovery than those who do not. Treatment will help a patient learn how to fight cocaine addiction as well as help him or her through the more intense symptoms of cocaine withdrawal.