Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine might kill someone after just one use and is very addictive.1 To keep staying high, cocaine-using individuals frequently use via using multiple times, bigger and bigger amounts, in a small span of time.1,2 Someone might use via ways including via smoking, via injecting, or via snorting.1,3 There are various possible consequences of individuals using cocaine, yet unfortunately stopping might not be easy for individuals.1,4,5

If an individual ceases using cocaine or decreases how much is used, then the individual might experience withdrawal.4 An individual experiencing withdrawal could have significant cravings and thus the individual might resume using cocaine, thereby possibly bringing about fatal or otherwise harmful repercussions.1,4

It may help someone in withdrawal stop using for sufficient time for symptoms to go away if that individual participates in treatment.5 There are over 14,500 facilities in America alone with drug treatment as their specialty.6

Cocaine and the Brain

The National Institute on Drug Abuse conveys that brain alterations able to arise from recurrent cocaine use might prompt addiction.1

Cocaine is able to induce an accumulation of a lot of the neurotransmitter dopamine in between neurons, yet acclimation to these greater amounts and lowered sensitivity can occur.1

An individual might become tolerant, thus deriving from cocaine the previously felt withdrawal alleviation and pleasure amount could consequently require using more often and/or bigger doses.1,2,3 However, an individual is able to become sensitized simultaneously, where an individual is able to suffer negative effects at smaller cocaine doses than previously required to cause them; hence this as well as the aforementioned tolerance can heighten an individual’s overdose risk.2

An individual might experience a progressively less enjoyable high (cocaine might make an individual feel suspicious and afraid), yet nevertheless the individual might still suffer significant cravings.4 An individual might use because the individual is trying to alleviate withdrawal.1

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

When withdrawal occurs, symptoms include, normally, opposites to that substance’s impacts when used.5 For instance, from cocaine individuals could get lots of energy, then when individuals experience cocaine withdrawal, individuals could feel fatigued.1,4

During cocaine withdrawal, individuals might experience various symptoms, including:1,4

  • Being irritable
  • Cravings
  • Activity slowing down
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being depressed
  • Having nightmares
  • Being uncomfortable
  • Being agitated
  • Larger appetite
  • Being restless
  • Being fatigued

Is withdrawal from cocaine hazardous? Withdrawal from cocaine, a stimulant, might normally not bring about major harm: normally there aren’t medical complications connected to withdrawal from stimulants.1,5 Nevertheless, an individual suffering withdrawal from cocaine might become suicidal.4,5 An individual experiencing withdrawal from cocaine might overdose.Individuals who overdose could suffer harm; furthermore, overdosing might kill an individual.1

Call 911 or a suicide hotline immediately if you or another individual is suicidal. Call 911 immediately if you or another individual might have overdosed.

What is the duration of withdrawal? Following several days without using any stimulants, frequently symptoms of withdrawal go away; however, they may continue for 4 weeks.5 Moreover, for months individuals might continue experiencing depression as well as cravings.4 After not using for a long while, there is still unfortunately a high risk of returning to cocaine use among individuals who previously used cocaine.2,4

Treatment

It might aid someone experiencing withdrawal stop using for adequate time for symptoms to end if that individual engages in treatment.5

If you may have an addiction to a substance, do not ignore it: consult a healthcare provider.7

Someone addicted to cocaine could participate in behavioral therapies; unfortunately, there are not any available medication options that have received governmental approval for treating this addiction.1 Settings where someone’s treatment might take place include inpatient, residential, and/or outpatient.6

 

Sources:

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2018). DrugFacts: Cocaine: What is cocaine?.
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Cocaine: What are the long-term effects of cocaine use?.
  3. Drug Enforcement Administration; U.S. Department of Justice. (2017). Drugs of abuse: A DEA resource guide: 2017 edition.
  4. A.D.A.M., Inc. (2019). Cocaine withdrawal. In A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia.
  5. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2015). Detoxification and substance abuse treatment: A treatment improvement protocol: TIP 45.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Principles of drug addiction treatment: A research-based guide (third edition): Drug addiction treatment in the United States.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2019). Step by step guides to finding treatment for drug use disorders.
About The Contributor
Sophie Stein, MSN
Clinical Editor
Sophie Stein received her master’s of science in nursing from Vanderbilt University School of Nursing. She previously worked as an advanced practice registered nurse at an outpatient psychiatric practice providing mental health care for children,... Read More
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