Cocaine Withdrawal – Symptoms, Timeline & Treatment

Posted on :  February 25th, 2015  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When heavy drug users try to cut back on drug use, drug users feel the extreme sensations relating to withdrawal. Some drugs have more painful withdrawal symptoms than others, but cocaine is one the few drugs that can causes withdrawal symptoms after the very first use. Those who use cocaine call the withdrawal symptoms a crash and for several good reasons.

How Cocaine Causes Addiction

Cocaine works similarly to heroin, by affecting the cells in the brain. While heroin works by attaching to the morphine receptors in the brain, cocaine triggers the dopamine to be released. The morphine receptors reduce the sensation of pain and the dopamine release causes a feeling of euphoria. Once the dopamine is released, cocaine blocks the brain from receiving dopamine back into the neurons. This causes the dopamine to fill the spaces between the neurons in the brain. While this is occurring, the body continues to feel euphoria – the high that causes the user to feel energetic and talkative. It also causes the heart rate to increase which also increases blood pressure. These bodily changes can be quite dangerous.

The High with Fall

Just like the laws of gravity, the high will eventually fall. Cocaine users experience a crash that is just as painful as the high is euphoric. The crash usually comes with the desire for more cocaine to get back to the energetic state of euphoria. During the fall from the high, cocaine users experience many symptoms that can interfere with daily activities. They include problems like insomnia, despite serious fatigue and sleepiness. Once users fall asleep during withdrawal, they can experience vividly troubling dreams. When they are not trying to fall asleep, users can also experience slow psychomotor actions as well as irritability and anxiety. It is common to experience depression along with paranoia and suspicion. It is also common to experience cravings and a strong appetite, but the food often does not offer the joy that users expect it to give.

Physical Symptoms Relating to Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal has several other painful symptoms that affect the body physically. The effects are different from the shaking and vomiting that come with withdrawal from alcohol and heroin. Cocaine withdrawal causes problems with mood and energy. During withdrawal, users can experience fatigue, depression, malaise, agitation, and lack of energy. While these may not sound like a horrible experience, the effects of withdrawal can create problems at work and at home. The tired and irritable feelings are also accompanied by serious cravings, because the users know they will experience bouts of energy by using again. Once users realize how fleeting the high really is, they can also become suicidal – which is a very serious withdrawal symptom.

Time Period for Withdrawal

Withdrawal from cocaine can take several weeks, or it can be as short as one week. During the period of withdrawal symptoms, the cravings will spike and fall several times, anxiety will also increase and decrease, too. It is common to see varying states of paranoia, disorientation, bradycardia (slow heart rate), as well as hunger and apathy. While heroin users can use methadone and other prescription medications to control their withdrawal symptoms, cocaine withdrawal cannot be treated with any medication. It is important for users who are working on quitting, to work closely with a physician or psychotherapist.

Dual Diagnosis

Some of the withdrawal symptoms are similar to psychiatric symptoms and users with dual diagnoses of drug abuse and psychological disorders can exacerbate the symptoms. The way that cocaine is put into the body can also affect any pre-existing psychiatric disorders, especially if cocaine is taken intravenously or by freebasing. It is wise to work closely with a team of physicians if you are working through drug abuse and with psychiatric symptoms.

If you have any questions about cocaine addiction or any other drug addiction, please contact our professional staff at Towards Recovery Clinics at 905-527-2042.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.