Addiction has serious consequences for people’s health, relationships, work and life. Cocaine is one of the harder drugs to quit, with a very challenging detox experience for those who choose to stop using the drug. Learn more about the side effects of detoxification from cocaine and what can be done to help mitigate the symptoms.



Cocaine is powerfully addictive and tolerance can begin as an individual seeks the euphoric high associated with use. Psychologically and physically addictive, cocaine has a short duration of effects which one person which may compel an individual to use over and over again to achieve the same, albeit short, high. Detox symptoms occur after a period of regular use or pattern of high dose binge use of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms last anywhere from 1-3 weeks and may include the following symptoms:

  • Agitation and restless behavior
  • Depressed mood
  • Fatigue
  • Generalized malaise
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Slowing of activity

Cravings for cocaine and depressive symptoms can last for months following cessation of long-term heavy use. Symptoms are triggered by low levels of serotonin and dopamine in the system which are sometimes treated with short term antidepressants. As the ‘high’ associated with ongoing use becomes less and less pleasant, fear and suspicion of others may begin. Time is the greatest factor in  helping restore balance and healing to the body.


Detox Side Effects

Withdrawal from cocaine can have serious side effects but are mostly unpleasant as opposed to dangerous (in most cases). Cocaine withdrawal symptoms generally only last a week or two and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Body aches
  • Challenges in concentration
  • Chills
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Intense craving for cocaine
  • Pain
  • Tremors or shaking


Length of Detox

When a person binges on cocaine, the ‘crash’ which follows may last anywhere from nine (9) hours to four (4) days. Acute cocaine detox after a period of physical dependence may last approximately a week. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) for cocaine may last for months or even a year after last use depending on frequency and dosing of cocaine. PAWS symptoms may include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Depressive feelings or thoughts
  • Cravings

The binge and crash cycle can be broken after 3-4 days following an intense crash. Abstinence from cocaine is more possible if a person can sustain through this challenging period. Psychological treatments are most helpful for cocaine detox including emotional, psychological and group support through the detox period. Most symptoms resolve over time. Medicine which may be helpful to individuals in detox include:

  • Euphoria blocker for prevention of relapse
  • Propranolol for cases of severe addiction
  • Relapse prevention medication including baclofen, tiagabine and topiramate
  • Vaccine capable of stimulating production of cocaine-specific antibodies which showed promise in preliminary studies in cocaine relapse prevention


Cocaine is a difficult drug to quit, but the first step is admitting a problem exists. If you or a loved one use cocaine and want to quit, call Hired Power to find out how we can support your journey to finding help with detox, treatment and recovery options.

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