For those who are abusing cocaine, or are addicted to it, it is crucial that they are supported through a detox period in order to be able to recover. Unfortunately, cocaine is very addictive, meaning cravings can become very intense and almost too hard to resist once people stop using it. Added to that, withdrawal symptoms have been widely described in popular culture, and this has led to people believing that they simply cannot do it. This is why it is important to gain a true picture of what to expect during detox and coming down, and how long things take.

How Long Does Cocaine Detox Take?

When someone stops using cocaine suddenly, that person will generally experience withdrawal symptoms for between one and three weeks. The body itself will rid itself of the last bits of cocaine within 72 hours. For that period of time, it will remain visible in urine samples. That said, if someone is a habitual user, traces can be found for as long as 12 weeks.

How long someone has been using cocaine, and how much of it, will determine to a great extent how long it will take for cocaine to completely leave the system. Those who are truly addicted, and have an extreme dependence, for instance after having used the substance for many years, will generally experience far more intense symptoms of withdrawal than those who have gone on an occasional binge. For instance, after going on a binge, people usually experience what is known as a “crash”, which lasts between nine hours and four days. However, in a habitual, long term users, protracted withdrawal symptoms can occur, and these can take many weeks or even months to resolve completely.

Time Line of Cocaine Detox and Coming Down

First 24 to 72 Hours

During the first 24 to 72 hours after patients stop the use of cocaine, they usually start to feel very depressed and remorseful. They often suffer from insomnia and, when they do sleep, they wake up feeling bad both physically and psychologically. It is also common to feel very hungry, as well as extremely irritable, sometimes leading to aggression. Heavy users may also feel confused and disorientated.

Days 4 to 7
Between days four and seven, it is common for people to experiencing drug cravings, ranging from mild to very strong. The really extreme cravings usually stop after 72 hours, but some remain in place. Most people sleep a lot during this time period, and they also require increased water consumption and food. When awake, they often experience apathy, anxiety, dysphoria (a general feeling of malaise), depression, paranoia, and irritability.

After 1 Week
After one week, most people start to feel a lot better. At this point, they often become confident, which can lead to rose tinted glasses. Many people, after one week, think that they can easily manage their addiction. Unfortunately, the problems associated with withdrawal are often cyclical. This means that, after feeling really good for a few days or hours, they may suddenly start to feel depressed again, experiencing mood disorders, and having insomnia again. Similarly, they must suddenly experience cravings again, even though they had disappeared for a while by then. Other symptoms also remain common, including increased appetite, nightmares, and agitation.

After 2 Weeks
In the two weeks that follow cocaine detox and withdrawal, cravings often start to return quite strongly. People also continue to feel very hungry, depressed, and angry. In week two, people often still have very vivid dreams and nightmares, and they often start to think about returning to their cocaine habit. These symptoms often remain for around two more weeks.

After 1 Month
After around the first month of withdrawal, people often experience very sudden and inexplicable mood changes. People often still feel depressed and continue to have sleep problems. This is best addressed through proper nutrition, counseling, and exercise. Many people who have been addicted to or who have abused cocaine find it very difficult to deal with any type of stress. Most detox and rehab facilities treat patients for around 30 days, which means it is also at this particular point that people tend to return to the “real world”. Perhaps unsurprisingly, relapse rates are very high at this point as well. Unfortunately, there is no one single treatment method that has been proven to be 100% effective in a cocaine addiction. This is why it is important that, after that first month, people are able to access resources such as psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, counselors, and support groups where they can discuss their problems. In some cases, some pharmacological intervention may also be required, for instance by prescribing antidepressants.

How Long Does Cocaine Detox Take?

Detox itself only takes around one week. Unfortunately, even after cocaine has completely left the system, they are not cured yet. That said, breaking the cycle of binging and crashing is generally the hardest element of the entire rehab process. After about three or four days, the really intense cravings for cocaine start to subside and become more manageable. Hence, those who are able to get through those first few days, and who are motivated and properly supported to then continue, have a good chance of recovering and staying abstinent for life.

The best practice available for people with a cocaine abuse or addiction problem is talking therapy. They are usually offered individual, group, and family therapy in order help them recover. Those who are committed to this process have the greatest chance to truly make it and return to society living a healthy, happy life.

Unfortunately, there are currently no FDA-approved drugs that can help with the withdrawal of cocaine. Some do exist for opiate addictions, and researchers are looking into developing similar substances for cocaine addiction. Until they have found one, however, the only option available for those addicted to cocaine is to effectively quit “cold turkey”. What is important, however, is that this is done in a supported environment, which not only increases the chances of someone to be successful through this process, but to be safe and as comfortable as possible as well.