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Cocaine Withdrawal & Detox

Written by Erica Weiman

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.

Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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When a person uses cocaine regularly, they can become physically dependent on the drug, with the body feeling ill without it. Cocaine withdrawal occurs when someone who has been using the drug cuts down on their use or stops taking it.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine produces an extreme mood elevation by causing the brain to release higher  amounts of chemicals than usual. However, cocaine’s effects on other parts of the body can be severe and even deadly. When a person stops using cocaine, a “crash” follows almost right away. Many experience strong cravings for more cocaine during the cocaine detox, in addition to the following symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Increased appetite
  • Aching muscles

Cocaine detox usually doesn’t have visible physical symptoms, such as the vomiting and shaking that accompany withdrawal from other substances like heroin or alcohol.

Co-occurring mental health disorders may also affect the withdrawal process. Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and personality disorders can make the detox process more complicated.

Cocaine Detox Timeline

The timeline for cocaine withdrawal symptoms varies depending on several factors:

  • The person’s height and weight
  • The length of cocaine use
  • The amount of cocaine used
  • How often cocaine was used
  • Presence of a co-occurring mental disorder
  • The person’s environment

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can last for one to two weeks. Although the specific timeline will vary based on the person, these are the expected withdrawal symptoms by the hour:

  • Within the first few hours of the last dose: A person may start to “crash” and show withdrawal symptoms.
  • Within the first week: Withdrawal symptoms peak during this time. Cravings also occur during this timeframe, making it difficult to avoid relapse without support.
  • Within the first 1–2 weeks: Symptoms will begin to diminish. People who have used cocaine for years may continue to experience lingering withdrawal symptoms for weeks.
  • Within the first month: Protracted withdrawal symptoms like improved emotional state will begin to improve, but impulse control may continue to be a problem.
  • Within the first 1–2 months: Lethargy, anxiety, erratic sleep and strong cravings may continue.

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?

The length of time that cocaine stays in your system depends on the way you consumed the drug. If you snort the drug, it lasts longer in your system than if you ingest or inject it. Cocaine’s half-life, or the length of time it takes for your body to remove half a dose of cocaine from your system, ranges from 0.7–1.5 hours.

However, cocaine also contains breakdown products like benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester, which have half-lives ranging from 3.5–8 hours.

Because it generally takes five half-lives to totally remove a drug from your body, cocaine itself may be out of your system within eight hours, while its breakdown products may remain in your system for up to two days. During this 2-day period, cocaine can show up in urine tests and saliva tests. The drug may also show up in hair tests for up to 90 days.

Cocaine Detox in Orlando

Any addiction recovery plan begins with detox and withdrawal. Cocaine detox focuses on stabilizing physical health while working through psychological withdrawal symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to help balance symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, but this is not the only approach to cocaine addiction treatment. Therapy, support groups, nutritional support and more are also typically offered.

After detox, it is easier for the patient to focus on the next step in their recovery. Rehab, which can take place in an inpatient or outpatient setting, is recommended.

It is possible to experience only minor effects of withdrawal, but many people face extreme discomfort during detox, and their symptoms can become severe quickly. For this reason, cocaine detox should be completed under medical supervision. Treatment specialists at Orlando Recovery Center help patients manage cocaine detox and withdrawal symptoms in a medically supervised setting. Medication management plans allow patients to feel more at ease so that they can focus on their recovery.

If someone you know is currently using cocaine and needs help, the Orlando Recovery Center is here. To learn more about our wide range of treatments for cocaine addictiongive us a call today to speak with one of our skilled, compassionate representatives.

Sources

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, August 23, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-repor[…]isk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed November 11, 2021.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” October 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” Accessed December 11, 2021.

World Health Organization. “Withdrawal Management.” Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings 2009. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Protracted Withdrawal.” Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory, July 2010. Accessed December 12, 2021.

PsychDB. “Stimulant Withdrawal.”  March 29, 2021. Accessed December 12, 2021.

National Library of Medicine. “Cocaine (Compound).” PubChem, Accessed December 12, 2021.

Kosten, Thomas R. “Pathophysiology and Treatment of Cocaine Dependence.” Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress, 2002. Accessed December 12, 2021.

View Sources

Hallare, Jericho; Gerriets, Valerie. “Half Life.” StatPearls, August 23, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Gryczynski, Jan; Schwartz, Robert P; Mitchell, Shannon D; et al. “Hair Drug Testing Results and Self-repor[…]isk Illicit Drug Use.” Drug and Alcohol Dependence, May 17, 2014. Accessed November 11, 2021.

ARUP Laboratories. “Drug Plasma Half-Life and Urine Detection Window.” October 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Cansford Laboratories. “Oral Fluid (Saliva) Testing.” Accessed December 11, 2021.

World Health Organization. “Withdrawal Management.” Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings 2009. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “Protracted Withdrawal.” Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory, July 2010. Accessed December 12, 2021.

PsychDB. “Stimulant Withdrawal.”  March 29, 2021. Accessed December 12, 2021.

National Library of Medicine. “Cocaine (Compound).” PubChem, Accessed December 12, 2021.

Kosten, Thomas R. “Pathophysiology and Treatment of Cocaine Dependence.” Neuropsychopharmacology: The Fifth Generation of Progress, 2002. Accessed December 12, 2021.

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