The most important thing to do during this time is to get support from people who understand what you are going through, whether that includes loved ones or medical professionals.
Drugs like cocaine produce physical dependence, where the body becomes increasingly tolerant of the drug. But the body also becomes increasingly sensitive to the symptoms of withdrawal. For example, cocaine produces an intense, euphoric feeling and gives the user an incredible amount of energy. Once the person stops taking cocaine, they risk developing clinical depression during the withdrawal timeline.
The drug sends high levels of dopamine, a natural chemical messenger in your body, into the parts of your brain that control pleasure. This buildup causes intense feelings of energy and alertness called a high.
This part of the withdrawal timeline can last as long as ten weeks. During phase two, people will experience continued strong cravings for cocaine, irritability, fatigue, and lethargy, and some issues with concentration and memory. Problems with mood and any physical symptoms will usually start to subside during this phase.
Eventually the cocaine user’s brain needs the drug to produce any dopamine or even to feel “normal.” As a result, withdrawal symptoms emerge when someone stops using cocaine.
During the withdrawal process, individuals can experience powerful and intense cravings for cocaine. Even if during their long-term abuse, when some individuals become sensitized (reverse tolerance) to cocaine, there can still be intense cravings for the drug. Someone who abused cocaine intravenously (IV), or by injection, is more likely to experience psychiatric withdrawal symptoms compared to those who abuse it by snorting or smoking.
The severity of your cocaine withdrawal comes down to multiple factors. These factors include the length of your cocaine use, how frequently you abused cocaine, purity of your drug, how you used it, your health, and your mental condition.
Despite the relative persistence of the clinical application of the phasal model to cocaine withdrawal (and to some extent amphetamine withdrawal), results from several other studies have not supported this model, but rather have found a gradual return to normative functioning over time (Coffey, Dansky, Carrigan & Brady, 2000; Miller et al., 1993; Satel, Price, Palumbo, McDougle et al., 1991; Weddington, Brown, Haertzen, Come et al., 1990). Top of page For example, Miller and colleagues (1993) reported self-described and clinically observed withdrawal symptoms among a group of 150 cocaine-dependent (DSM-III-R criteria) in-patients of an alcohol and drug treatment facility in Florida. The age range was 18–55 years (mean 26 years). Males comprised 64% of the sample. Half of all participants smoked crack cocaine and 29% snorted powder. The investigators reported that following rapid cessation of cocaine use, withdrawal symptoms consisted of 'craving, hyperactivity, slight tremor, insomnia and apprehension' (p. 30), which decreased in a linear fashion. No participants required medication during the withdrawal and no significant psychological problems emerged. Unfortunately, no specific time periods associated with the symptoms were presented, although only 12 patients (8% of the sample) left the 28-day treatment program prior to completion.