Cocaine Withdrawal Stages

Understanding the cocaine withdrawal stages is important for a successful recovery.

Understanding the cocaine withdrawal stages is important for a successful recovery.

What are the stages of cocaine withdrawal and how long will this misery last? Those are some of the most common questions that arise when cocaine withdrawal is a factor in an individual’s life. According the medical staff, treatment professionals and therapists, there are at least three definitive cocaine withdrawal stages that each recovering cocaine addict will go through before he or she makes it past the detoxification process and into a life of recovery.

The Crash

Cocaine abuse increases alertness, energy and the euphoria that an individual feels but these feelings can’t last forever. The first of the three distinct cocaine withdrawal stages is the crash. Users who are initially coming down from a binge of cocaine abuse will crash and burn. They will feel intense fatigue and tiredness and may have little to no energy at all. This stage will last about four days.

The crash that comes following a cocaine binge may also include irritability and an overall bad mood. The user would likely feel better if he or she used more cocaine but these feelings would be short-lived. Additional feelings that come during the first of the three stages of cocaine withdrawal may include depression, fear, confusion and self-pity or shame.

Users who are in the early days of cocaine withdrawal will have an inability to feel pleasure. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing symptom of cocaine withdrawal that will not likely go away very quickly. The chemical imbalance that occurs in the brain when cocaine is regularly abused is the reason for the lack of pleasure when cocaine withdrawal takes place and during the subsequent months following the cocaine addiction recovery.

 Intense Withdrawal

The second stage of cocaine withdrawal is characterized by intense withdrawal that includes a continued lack of pleasure. The recovering addict will have a lack of motivation to do much of anything and they will be plagued by continued cravings to use more cocaine. The cravings during this stage of cocaine withdrawal can become so intense that many users will relapse during this period and fall back into the perils of cocaine abuse and addiction.

This stage of cocaine withdrawal usually lasts about two and a half months but could last longer or be shorter. Each case is different and will have different outcomes. Most addicts will eventually hit a wall during this stage of withdrawal due to a lack of energy, lack of happiness, extreme cravings and the pitfalls of the withdrawal taking place. Because of the intensity of this stage of cocaine withdrawal, it is during stage two that many users relapse.


The third stage of cocaine withdrawal is called the ending or extinction phase or stage. Of the three distinct cocaine withdrawal stages, extinction is one of the stages that researchers know the least about. This phase can last anywhere from a few weeks to many years and though it is not as prominent as other stages of cocaine withdrawal there are still many distinct symptoms that can be seen during this time including:

  • continued, but less frequent, cravings to use cocaine
  • mood swings on occasion but far less than before
  • boredom
  • feelings of depression and loneliness

Risk of relapse during this stage of cocaine withdrawal varies. For some users, making it to this stage of cocaine withdrawal will lead to a lifetime of sobriety but for others there will be a risk of relapse as high as 80% or more. Continued support and treatment from a professional can help to reduce this risk but will not eliminate it all together.

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