Cocaine Detox


Cocaine detox does have some challenge despite the fact cocaine detox and withdrawal is not as intense as detoxing from other drugs. Cocaine withdrawal brings mostly psychological withdrawal symptoms during detox where other drugs can cause more severe physical symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts or actions of suicide
  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • The inability to feel pleasure or experience sexual arousal (anhedonia)
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms such as tremors, chills, nerve pain and muscle aches

Is a Medical Detox Necessary?

A state certified detoxification program is recommended for most cocaine detox cases. Cocaine detox is typically safe in an outpatient situation, but if a person has previously relapsed, it is recommended they go through a cocaine detox where 24-hour supervision is provided. If the person also suffers from co-occurring mental health issues, an inpatient addiction treatment program is recommended after detox.

The brain becomes used to the constant flood of “feel good” neurotransmitters during regular cocaine use. Cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed, and therefore it floods the brain resulting in the high associated with the use of cocaine according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Depression can begin once the brain is no longer experiencing that high, making an increased risk of suicide one of the most problematic and serious withdrawal symptoms of cocaine use.

Mood swings and intense depression can occur when an addicted person stops using cocaine. If there is already a history of suicidal thoughts or depression, a medically monitored cocaine detox is recommended to ensure safety.

Withdrawal symptoms are likely to disappear after 7-10 days, although cravings can occur suddenly, even years after people have quit using the drug. The timeline for withdrawal caries from person to person, but because there is a very short half-life for cocaine, withdrawal can begin as soon as 90 minutes after the last dose.
Some of the factors are as follows:

Amount: People who have used large amounts of cocaine will suffer withdrawal symptoms for much longer because their brains have become accustomed to the floods of dopamine.

Duration: Short term usage is likely to cause a shorter period of withdrawal, where people who have used cocaine for an extended period of time may have withdrawal symptoms for weeks.

Environment: When someone uses a drug for means of escaping reality or a stressful environment, stresses can likely trigger the desire to use again. Environmental factors that lead to stress, can lead to intense cravings for the drug and complicates the psychological withdrawal process.

Mental health issues: If there are any co-occurring mental health problems, the withdrawal process can be complicated. Some of these issues are anxiety, depression, personality or eating disorders.

Purity of the drug: People who use very pure cocaine will have longer lasting withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes the drug is cut with fillers, thereby causing less absorption of the drug.

Cocaine Detox, Treatment, and Medications

As of now, there are no FDA approved medications for cocaine detox and withdrawal symptoms. However, medical research has shown that there are some promising medications that may help with addiction and withdrawal from Cocaine. Both Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, which are approved to help treat other addictions, have shown in studies that they may provide some assistance for cocaine withdrawal.

There is also a study that suggested that the Beta blocker, Propranolol, may have some benefit for those going through cocaine withdrawal. This medication is often used to treat psychological problems and anxiety. Since some of the main issues with cocaine withdrawal can be serious depression and anxiety (which can lead to suicidal thoughts) it is felt that psychological medications designed to reduce these symptoms could be useful for cocaine withdrawal. A medical professional should consider these options carefully and monitor patients for negative side effects.

During cocaine detox and withdrawal, Resolutions Behavioral Health will provide a supportive and comprehensive medical environment throughout all stages of detoxification to ensure a successful recovery. If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members today for a free and confidential assessment.