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How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Typically Last?


The cocaine withdrawal syndrome itself can last a very long time, from six months to two years. This can be incredibly difficult on the user; however, treatment does not necessarily need to last this long. Its main purpose is to minimize the symptoms associated with cocaine dependence and reduce the chance of relapse.

Treating Acute Cocaine Withdrawal

According to the National Library of Medicine, “The level of craving, irritability, delayed depression, and other symptoms produced by cocaine withdrawal rivals or exceeds that felt with other withdrawal syndromes.” This fact, coupled with the length of cocaine withdrawal and the way symptoms often tend to linger, causes an individual to require professional treatment for cocaine withdrawal, either through a doctor’s office, rehab center, or detox clinic.

On the first day of treatment, the individual will often be given a physical examination and certain tests, including blood chemistries, CBC, EKG, and urinalysis. Depending on the severity of the individual’s state, they may be sedated, but this is usually only necessary if the person is experiencing extreme effects caused by stimulant-induced psychosis.

The first few hours and days are spent stabilizing the patient. Depending on the symptoms that are most severe, the individual may require treatment with anticraving agents or neuroleptics. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, “Following binge use, individuals may initially experience a ‘crash’ period, which is characterized by symptoms of depression, anxiety, agitation and intense drug craving.” The individual must begin the intermediate stage of withdrawal before more progress can be made.

Treating Intermediate Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine withdrawal can cause depression.

Cocaine withdrawal can cause depression.

Usually, further recovery can begin after the first few days to a week of treatment. Often, the individual will begin to feel that they are on an upswing at this point and that dealing with their addiction has become easier. However, this feeling usually diminishes around the second week of recovery. This is why patients then require behavioral therapy that helps with their cocaine cravings and feelings of depression.

The NLM states, “At least half of all people addicted to cocaine also have a mental disorder.” By having the patient begin a therapy regimen, likely cognitive-behavioral therapy, they can be treated for these disorders as well as their cocaine withdrawal symptoms and also be prepared for full addiction treatment.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Treatment Last?

Generally, a person may still be receiving treatment for their withdrawal symptoms, specifically those associated with cravings and depression, while they are in addiction rehab. Because the withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine abuse can last such a long time, treatment for withdrawal itself may need to last several weeks to a month and possibly continue into addiction treatment. Typically, the minimum treatment length for drug addiction is 90 days, according to the NIDA, and cocaine withdrawal may ebb and flow during this time. It is very important, therefore, for a cocaine-addicted individual to attend treatment for an adequate length of time, sometimes longer than the regular 90 days, in order to fully get a handle on their withdrawal symptoms and their addiction.

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