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Cocaine Detox: What You Can Expect

By Jacqueline Hensler
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming, but a healthier life lies on the other side of detox.

When undergoing a cocaine detox, the effects can be mild to severe based on the amount taken and the duration of abuse. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can bring about a range of different physiological and mental health side effects due to cocaine being such a potent and fast-acting drug. 

According to a 2016 review published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a cocaine high appears immediately and disappears within a few minutes to an hour. When the high is gone you are left wanting more which is why there are many psychological symptoms associated with the withdrawal and detox process. These include comedowns, anxiety, and depression.

“There is a wide variation on how someone gets addicted to cocaine and it really depends on the route of administration and potency of the drug,” Gerald Opthof, PsyD, LPC, CSW, a psychotherapist and director of Opthof Center for Psychotherapy tells WebMD Connect to Care. “Someone who smokes crack cocaine feels the effects much faster than someone injecting it, and may end up taking more to keep the high,” Opthof says. 

According to American Addiction Centers, cocaine withdrawal symptoms can start within 90 minutes from the last use of the drug and continue up to 10 days or even longer. The cocaine detox period can be affected by how long you have been using and the amount you have used. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not as physically intense as a withdrawal from other drugs, according to American Addiction Centers. Cocaine detox involves psychological withdrawal symptoms which include: 

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slowed activity or slowed thinking
  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Paranoia 
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Increased cocaine craving

Cocaine detox is often done on an outpatient basis to manage withdrawal symptoms but there are some instances where an inpatient treatment program may be recommended. “Individuals who would be better served in an inpatient setting are those with health, family, or job issues,” Opthof says. 

Treatments That Work 

  • Medications: There are no FDA-approved medications to overcome cocaine addiction. Some medications for other purposes may help, such as antidepressants to stabilize mood and reduce depression. 
  • Behavioral Therapy: Treatments that focus on changing behavior can be done on an outpatient basis or as part of an inpatient treatment program. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) teaches ways to help you avoid using cocaine. 
  • Reward: Receiving a reward for not using drugs is a simple method that teaches you how to develop skills to avoid cocaine and deal with what triggers drug use. 
  • Sauna Detoxification: According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of International Medical Research, the positive effects of sauna therapy improved physical and emotional symptoms for people suffering from withdrawal symptoms long after stopping drugs. This can be due to the body being full of toxins from ongoing drug use.

Don’t Wait. Get Help Now. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, WebMD Connect to Care Advisors are standing by to help.