Cocaine withdrawal takes place when a cocaine addict stops using cocaine. Withdrawal from cocaine often has no visible physical symptoms like the vomiting and shaking that accompanies the withdrawal from heroin or alcohol. They will experience strong cravings for more cocaine, fatigue, lack of pleasure, anxiety, irritability, sleepiness, and sometimes agitation or extreme suspicion.
The beginning of the cocaine withdrawal process is the hardest since the user's body automatically wants more of the drug. This desire is known as a "craving" and is possibly the hardest part of cocaine withdrawal a person has to experience. During the craving period the body tells the mind that it needs more cocaine. When this physiological connection is opened, the obsession to use becomes very powerful.
Instead of giving into their obsession with using cocaine, a cocaine addict undergoing withdrawing must occupy his/her mind with new, unrelated thoughts. This stage of cocaine withdrawal usually only lasts for about a week and after this period the body will no longer have a physical craving for cocaine. Although getting rid of the physical craving is essential in remaining free of addiction, the mental obsession will still exist. If an ex-cocaine addict does not know how to effectively manage these mental cravings, he/she will return to old habits and will eventually relapse.
In the past, people underestimated the addictive properties of cocaine because the lack of physical withdrawal symptoms addicts experienced. This past misconception has been proven false. Cocaine creates a strong psychological dependence in those who abuse the drug. They will continue to take cocaine despite negative consequences to their school or job performance, their health, and their relationships with loved ones. The level of craving, lack of pleasure, and depression produced by cocaine withdrawal rivals or exceeds those felt from other drugs of abuse.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms include but are not limited to:
- angry outbursts
- disturbed sleep
- extreme fatigue
- intense craving for the drug
- lack of motivation
- muscle pain
Withdrawal from cocaine may not be as physically challenging as other drugs. However, withdrawal from any drug addiction is a very serious issue and should be treated that way. There is a risk of suicide or compensatory overdose while one is going though cocaine withdrawal. People experiencing cocaine withdrawal often attempt to self-medicate with alcohol, sedatives, hypnotics, or anti-anxiety agents such as diazepam (Valium). Self medicating or replacing cocaine use with a different drug, even if it is prescribed by a doctor, can be very dangerous. Cocaine addicts who substitute a different drug in place of using cocaine are only transferring their addiction. A complete recovery from cocaine addiction requires learning how to live day to day life without the crutch of drugs and alcohol.