What causes cocaine withdrawal?

A withdrawal syndrome is a set of signs and symptoms that occur in discontinuation or dosage reduction of a drug. Withdrawal syndrome is usually a combination of physical dependence and psychological dependence. Abrupt cessation, even after a weekend binge, is commonly followed by depression, anxiety, drug craving, and extreme fatigue (“crash”).

It has been theorized that stimulants such as cocaine compensate for a deficiency in three neurotransmitters—dopamine, norepinephrine, which acts with epinephrine (adrenaline), and serotonin—that can otherwise result in apathy and depression, bolstering the theory of drug use as being self-medication. Cocaine increases serotonin transmission, a neurotransmitter that influences essential behaviors such sleep, eating, mood, and cognitive processes.

Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal

A withdrawal syndrome is a set of signs and symptoms that occur in discontinuation or dosage reduction of a drug and is also considered to be a consequence of the physical/psychological dependence.

The main symptoms of cocaine withdrawal may include:

• Agitation
• Depression
• Anxiety
• Craving
• Fatigue
• General feeling of discomfort
• Increased appetite
• Vivid and unpleasant dreams

Duration of cocaine withdrawal

With the proper medication, the withdrawal symptoms from cocaine are typically treated after about 7 to 10 days. It is important to mention that the craving, depression and the suicidal thoughts (in some people) can last for weeks and even months after stopping the long-term use. Craving and depression are the two major symptoms that occur during the withdrawal stage. The treatment for cocaine addiction is considered effective when these two major symptoms start to fade.

Addiction therapy can help patients (experiencing a withdrawal syndrome) with cocaine addiction problems. With the support of an addiction therapist, a well-structured system of pharmacological and psychological treatment to treat the cocaine addiction.


Cocaine withdrawal timeline

The withdrawal symptoms can first appear 90 minutes after the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms from cocaine typically can be treated after about 7 to 10 days. Like with many other drugs, the cravings can persist for a very extended period of time (weeks – months), even after the user have purged cocaine from their body. It is important to emphasize that the withdrawal timeline can be different from one user to another.

Factors that may influence the withdrawal timeline:

• Duration of use: The withdrawal symptoms are more likely to be shorter in length for people who abused cocaine for a short period of time. This timeline can last for a much longer period of time in people that used the drug for extended periods of time (months, years).
• The size of dose: Individuals that used large amounts of cocaine will suffer withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time.
• Drug purity: When the drug is not pure, the person actually takes in less of the drug. For the people that used pure cocaine, withdrawal symptoms may last longer.
• Environment: If the drug was used as a mean of escape from a stressful environment, stress might trigger the urge to use again.
• The presence of a psychiatric disorder: If an individual suffers from any mental disorder, like anxiety or depression, the withdrawal timeline will be complicated and may last longer.