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Cocaine is one of the most commonly used illegal drugs in the United States of America. Millions of people use cocaine each year, and over a million people suffer from addictions due to cocaine usage in the U.S. in 2020. It is one of the most highly addictive drugs available and can have serious long-term side effects even after a person has quit using the drug.

Because of its addictive qualities, quitting cocaine can be extremely difficult.  When a person is addicted to a drug, their body becomes reliant on the substance. Once the substance is no longer in the body, the user will experience withdrawal and detoxification.

The withdrawal and detoxification process from cocaine is quite intense. Withdrawal is when the body is no longer getting doses of the drug, so the levels of the drug in the bloodstream begin to lower. Along with withdrawal comes the detox stage, where the body begins to flush out the drugs in the bloodstream, which are considered toxins to the body. The detoxification process is physical and similar to being violently ill.

Because there are so many side effects of cocaine usage and since cocaine withdrawal and detoxification symptoms are so intense, it is important to understand everything you can about these three topics before going through detox and withdrawal yourself or helping someone else through it.

With all that being said, please read on to learn more about how long cocaine lasts in the body, the side effects of cocaine usage, withdrawal symptoms of cocaine, detox symptoms of cocaine, and how to prepare yourself to go through withdrawal and detox to minimize the symptoms.

How Long Does Cocaine Last & What Are The Side Effects of Use?

Cocaine is a powder drug typically ingested intrinsically, which means snorting the powder up the nose. However, there are other ways of ingesting cocaine as well. The different consumption methods will give the high a different intensity and either increase or decrease the impact speed.

If a person smokes cocaine, the effects are nearly immediate. Once the smoke from the cocaine is in the lungs, it is immediately transferred into the bloodstream, where it travels to the brain within a few heartbeats. Likewise, if a user injects cocaine dissolved in a liquid into their body (intravenous), the effects are almost immediate. Like smoking cocaine, the effects will hit after only a few heartbeats.

Those who take cocaine orally will feel their effects in about 10 minutes. The most common method of ingesting cocaine is snorting, which takes about 3 to 5 minutes to kick in.

Smoking cocaine will give the user a high for about 15 to 20 minutes. The high will be incredibly euphoric and intense and then quickly end. Injecting cocaine has a high of about 15 to 20 minutes, with a similar crash at the end.

The effects of snorting cocaine will last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Cocaine that is consumed orally will last about an hour and a half. 

There are a variety of side effects of cocaine usage, no matter what the method of consumption is. Some side effects are short-term, while others are long-term or permanent.

The short-term effects of cocaine include:

  • Sensory sensitivity (sensitive to touch, visuals, and sounds)
  • Moodiness, irritability, or anger
  • Intense feelings of euphoria or happiness
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Paranoia
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Some of the long-term effects of cocaine usage are more serious and can cause dangerous health complications.

Long-term side effects include:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Seizures/convulsions
  • Bowel decay (only for continued oral consumption)
  • Sexual troubles
  • Mood issues
  • Lung problems or damage
  • Headaches
  • HIV or Hepatitis (only for injections)
  • Decreased sense of smell (only for continued snorting)
  • Nosebleeds (only for snorting)
  • Difficulty swallowing (only for snorting)
  • Runny nose (only for snorting)

The long-term side effects of cocaine usage are very severe. Not only can prolonged cocaine usage create issues with addiction, but it can lead to heart failure and heart disease, which are often fatal. In addition, there are also specific side effects that can occur based on the method of consumption.

There are also side effects that do not relate to a person’s physical health. Mental health issues and financial issues can occur from cocaine usage. These are exacerbated by continued or extended cocaine usage.

Mental health can become a factor in addiction very quickly. As a person becomes more addicted to cocaine, they will often increase their dosage. As a result, the dosages will become stronger and more frequent. The increased presence of cocaine in the body can change the chemistry in the brain, resulting in issues regarding behavior, mood, mental health, and addiction.

As the chemistry in the brain changes, normal day-to-day functions and cognitive abilities will begin to shift. Memory and mental clarity are the first to go. Many people who abuse cocaine will find that they have blackouts or gaps in their memory. They may also struggle to think as clearly as they once did.

Another side effect of prolonged cocaine usage is poor sleep. Once the brain chemistry has been thrown off, it affects the body’s natural rhythm. This will disrupt the sleep schedule and can keep a user to stay awake for days on end. This is exacerbated by the fact that cocaine is a stimulant, which increases blood flow throughout the body and keeps the brain active. Lack of sleep and a chemical imbalance in the brain can also cause a delayed reaction time, which can have a huge impact on a person’s ability to stay physically safe.

Over time, the body’s natural defenses and immunities to common illnesses will fade away, and the user will become more prone to illness. The user will also be at risk for lung problems, stomach and digestive problems, and heart issues.

How Long Does Withdrawal From Cocaine Last? Symptoms & Timeline

The symptoms and signs of cocaine withdrawal can include a wide variety of different physical ailments. The symptoms include extreme anxiety or moodiness, paranoia, exhaustion and fatigue, increased appetite, night terrors, cravings for cocaine, restlessness, depression, and general antsiness.

Cocaine is a unique drug because it does not have any physical withdrawal symptoms that are observable like other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Almost all of the symptoms are internal or emotional. Because withdrawal symptoms are not physical, the withdrawal process is not typically considered as dangerous as withdrawal from some other drugs.

There are three phases of cocaine withdrawal. To understand the full withdrawal timeline, we must walk through each one.

The first stage is the crash. The crash starts quickly after a heavy cocaine binge ends, generally within a few hours or days after the last dosage. During the crash, the user will begin to feel symptoms such as moodiness, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, depression, and unhappiness. Physically, their appetite often returns, and they are exhausted.

After the crash is the withdrawal stage. During the withdrawal stage, the user will begin to feel extreme cravings for cocaine. The user will feel lethargic, irritable, moody, and have difficulty concentrating on simple tasks. They will feel depressed and tired as they fight off the cocaine cravings. The withdrawal phase is usually no longer than 10 weeks.

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The final phase of cocaine withdrawal is the extinction phase. In this final phase, the user may get cocaine cravings from being in certain environments or other triggers that can cause their brain to think cocaine is coming. Triggers can also include stressful situations or prolonged times of anxiety.

Certain people can also become triggers if those people were drug buddies of the former user. Environments where a former user used to use cocaine are almost always very intense triggers. The extinction phase typically lasts around 28 weeks.

Some scientists do not believe in the phase system to organize the timeline of cocaine withdrawal, but it is easy for normal people to understand what is coming and when by having phases.

How to Mitigate Withdrawal Symptoms From Cocaine So You Can Recover Safely and Have a Sobriety That Lasts

One of the best ways to mitigate withdrawal symptoms from cocaine and have long-lasting sobriety is to rely on professional help. Many people do not want to reach out to a facility or group because they feel embarrassed about their addiction.

However, having a strong team of professionals and therapists on your side is always helpful. Often, a support system makes the difference between a person living a drug-free life and someone who relapses.

If you or a loved one is looking for a way to get the help and care that you deserve and need, please get in touch with us immediately so that you can start walking on the path to happiness and freedom starting right now

Source:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. What is the scope of cocaine use in the United States? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Accessed July 3, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-scope-cocaine-use-in-united-states
Amanda Stevens, BS

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, BS

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Ascendant NY, The Heights Treatment, Epiphany Wellness, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed July 3, 2022

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