Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
There is a common misconception that cocaine withdrawal has no symptoms. This misconception is not only false; it is dangerous. Although cocaine withdrawal doesn’t cause the intense physical symptoms associated with the withdrawal of alcohol or other drugs, the psychological effects are real and significant. Cocaine is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms are immediate and, in many cases, long-lasting.
As a stimulant, cocaine gives users feelings of intense euphoria and confidence. As the high fades, those feelings dissipate and users must return to cocaine again and again to maintain that high. Addiction quickly follows as the drug rewires the brain, making it impossible to experience pleasure without a large dose of the chemical.
If cocaine users do not continue to feed their growing need, a crash will soon follow. Where the presence of cocaine provided feelings of euphoria and pleasure, a sudden absence will result in an overwhelm of fatigue, increased anxiety, and intense irritability and restlessness. Withdrawal can also frequently incite larger mental health struggles with paranoia, depression, and suicidal tendencies. Once one’s brain is wired to depend on cocaine to feel pleasure, he or she may find it impossible to experience pleasure naturally while in withdrawal.
Within hours of stopping cocaine use, individuals can experience immediate symptoms of withdrawal which may linger for weeks, months, or even years, depending on the level of drug use and dependency. While acute symptoms may fade within a few weeks, the psychological effects such as depression, paranoia, and anxiety can take much longer to overcome. In addition, heavy cocaine users may experience post acute withdrawal symptom, also known as PAWS, three to six months after stopping their cocaine use.
While the exact timeline is unique to each individual, withdrawal symptoms will not fade until the brain has time to overcome its dependency on cocaine in order to feel confidence or joy. Feelings of exhaustion, irritability, agitation, paranoia, suspicion, depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies are not the physical illnesses many associate with drug withdrawal, but they are very real challenges that users must overcome.
The intense cravings and psychological challenges of withdrawal are extremely difficult to conquer alone, and users in withdrawal will benefit greatly from the holistic support of a professional recovery program.