Cocaine Detox & Withdrawal

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back
Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

What Is Cocaine?

After Cannabis, the next most commonly used drug in the UK is powder cocaine (otherwise known as Blow, Charlie, Dust, Flake, Sniff, Snow or White).

Cocaine is a Class A illegal drug which means it is a drug that can cause the most harm to either the user or society when it is misused.

Despite its dangers, cocaine addiction among the UK population continues to increase with an increasing number of overdoses being treated in hospital. Some people use the drug in a misguided attempt to enhance performance or meet an end goal. Since it temporarily decreases the need for sleep, other people will misuse cocaine in order to stay awake or alert for long periods such as studying or completing strenuous tasks.

This drug is a stimulant and is usually snorted or rubbed into the gums. Less frequently it is combined with heroin and injected, or crystallised cocaine is heated and it’s vapours inhaled as crack cocaine.

Negative Side Effects & Symptoms Of Cocaine Misuse

Cocaine abuse has multiple side-effects:

  • You may feel faint or sick
  • It can make you sleepy and lethargic
  • It can affect your memory
  • It can make you feel confused, anxious or paranoid
  • You may experience hallucinations or panic attacks
  • It can make you hypersensitive to sight, sounds and touch

Risks of Cocaine Use

  • People who use this drug are increasing the risk of a heart condition, hypertension, respiratory problems and infectious diseases
  • People who choose to misuse this drug are more prone to cardiovascular, stomach and lung problems
  • Heavy cocaine abuse will often result in loss of smell, nosebleeds, respiratory ailments like asthma, or pneumonia; bowel issues, and higher risk of blood disease, if injecting.
  • Those abusing cocaine are highly likely to suffer from co-occurring substance abuse disorders, and complex mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and generalised anxiety disorder.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine Withdrawal & The Brain

Cocaine’s shelf life is very short, meaning it can leave the user’s body after as little as 1-2 hours following last usage.

Cocaine affects levels of the hormone dopamine, and other areas of the brain responsible for movement and reward mechanisms, increasing them beyond normal amounts.

It is for this reason addicts often experience more motivation, creativity, pleasure and can feel high.

Cocaine can act as an antagonist in receptors which recycle this hormone back in to the brain, and thus the overall amount is increased. However, over time, habituation occurs.

This means, the dopamine cycle reacts to accommodate high levels of the hormone, by down-regulating the subsequent reactions that depend on it.

This leaves peoples to search out more of the stimulant, to achieve the same euphoria and high. Later, when resistance has developed, this increased search and desire for the drug is for the purpose of reducing withdrawal symptoms, as opposed to finding a new high.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

When ceasing intake,  users may also experience a severe and intense “crash” – and the associated withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal phase can begin as soon as a few hours since the last dose, and can last up to few weeks.

Physical cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Fatigue, tiredness, insomnia, lethargy
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Agitation, restlessness
  • More hunger, or a return of appetite which was absent during usage
  • Disturbances in motor activity such as unconscious twitching, disturbed reflexes, and difficulty controlling movement

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal also manifests in cognitive symptoms, including:

  • Cocaine cravings and a heightened desire to return to cocaine misuse
  • More anger, irritability, irascibility, aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Nightmares, and less often, night terrors
  • Reduced focus, concentration, or cognitive ability, depending on the cocaine intake over time.

In more severe cases, pre-existing conditions can combine with withdrawal symptoms resulting in suicidal ideation.

Again, in some cases, excess cocaine intake may itself lead to secondary disorders as it becomes increasingly difficult to separate what emotional issues precede the addiction, as opposed to those that occurred secondary to the addiction itself.

Cravings can last for 10 weeks or longer in some cases, although this is often mediated by environmental causes as opposed to somatic or chemical withdrawal symptoms. It is at this stage of detox, when psychological withdrawal symptoms become difficult and those in recovery are most likely to return to substance abuse.

Cocaine Treatment: Detox > Rehab > Aftercare

How To Treat Cocaine Misuse?

Where misuse has become habitual over time, or it is being used as a coping mechanism, while other aspects of life get out of control – addiction usually responds best to structured help via a system. A menu of specialist drug addiction recovery programmes at Abbeycare clinics can assist in detoxing and understanding the drivers lying underneath the use of cocaine as a coping mechanism.

A full addiction treatment programme for cocaine abuse should also include appropriate reasonable supports for down the line, beyond detox, that help to reinforce constructive recovery wins for individuals across all parts of life.

Cocaine Detox

What Are The Cocaine Detox Options?

Withdrawal symptoms generally are highly dangerous and intense, and the severity of symptoms experienced will differ depending on a number of aspects:

  • Present and earlier cocaine intake levels
  • Quantity of cocaine abuse over time
  • The typical purity of the cocaine ingested
  • Previous overdoses
  • Pre-existing physical and mental health 
  • Co-occurring usage with other substances or alcohol intake

Therefore, for reasons of safety, self-detoxing to stop misuse is specifically NOT recommended as you may end up in hospital.

Additionally, there are no specific medications designed exclusively for the purpose of detox.

Therefore, the safest and most comfortable way to start the detox process is in a residential setting, where withdrawal and detox symptoms are monitored and managed as they arise, according to the person.

Importantly, starting a detox in a residential clinic allows the individual to simultaneously remove him(her)self from environmental triggers towards usage such as social peers, stressors in employment or in relationships, to maximise the likelihood of successful detox completion, and later, the phase of rehabilitation.

Detox Length

Each person’s detox timeline will fluctuate considerably depending on the detox factors above as well as the degree of intoxication upon arrival at one of the services.

Some individuals may feel they have resolved physical symptoms in a few days, for others, their timeline may take a few weeks or longer. However, detox cannot provide successful results without first understanding and resolving the lifestyle influences involved in the decision to use the drug in the first place. In other words,  the detox phase alone is not a substitute for the complete substance abuse recovery programme. Most will progress onwards from the detox process, into rehab.


Cocaine misuse is typically thought of more as a mental addiction. This is not because of the nature of the addiction, or how users experience it, but instead what approach it typically responds best to, when attempting to recover.


The US National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights multiple approaches that may be appropriate for cocaine addiction treatment, including:

  • Negatively reinforcing usage behaviour with usage or relapse
  • Clearly identifying environmental causes supporting usage, and seeking to eliminate them
  • Psycho-educational work on the risks of relapse
  • Identifying and utilising motivational points to arrive at alternatives to substance misuse, in stressor situations.
  • Identifying and addressing thought patterns, behaviours, and feelings, which give rise to misuse.
  • Positively rewarding behaviour that seeks alternate coping mechanisms, and then rewarding the circumstances that enable that.


At Abbeycare, we believe all these aspects are required for a comprehensive rehabilitation from cocaine, and we include all of these in our standard 28 day program:

  • Structured help using the above approaches to help you figure out the causal emotional drivers behind cocaine misuse.
  • Learn about the trigger(s) that caused you to begin to use cocaine initially.
  • Immersion in a mutual aid addiction program such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA) to support your ongoing addiction recovery via a sponsor, and strong peer-to-peer support.
  • A personally assigned care manager, who looks after you throughout your rehab stay, lays out an individualised care plan for your treatment, and keeps you on track toward your goals, throughout your stay.
  • Holistic care, such as reflexology, massage, or reiki, that help you explore alternative ways of dealing with stressors.
  • Facilitated attendance at local Cocaine Anonymous groups, to ensure the positive support system becomes a habit, before you leave residential care.
  • Personalised aftercare planning, as below.


Having  robust and easy to use aftercare is one of the most important parts of maintaining abstinence from this drug, and achieving success, long after you leave Abbeycare.

Planning means devising a good support system, that helps individuals on their recovery journey, both on a practical day-to-day level, and also emotionally, when needed.

The process is person centred, and in many cases takes into account the learnings you’ve made up to that point, remedial gains, and personal insights you’ve had, along the way.

At Abbeycare, you will have the professional help of your assigned care manager, and collaboratively, you’ll take stock of what’s happened to that point, before designing a practical strategy for recovery, that meets your needs. Of course, one of the biggest elements that determines your success in this phase, is your ability to follow through on the plans you make.

Because of this we help you plan with as much detail as possible – the more detailed it is, the more likely you are to follow through with the full process.


  • Is it possible to overdose?

Yes, it is possible to overwhelm brain receptors with a strong influx of cocaine which is a stimulant, especially following a period of lower use or none use. Somatic symptoms of overdose can include seizure, arrhythmia or heart attack, stroke, breathing difficulties, and vascular issues. An overdose can be fatal, depending on the severity of the secondary symptoms occurring.


  • How long does it take to detox from cocaine?

How long it takes varies. Timescales depend upon a number of factors, such as tolerance developed, recency and severity of use, long term use, and co-occurrence with other addictions or health problems. Most will be able to physically detox in around 14 days however this does not include addiction treatment, or rehabilitation, for which the normal treatment period is 28 days.


  • What does detox feel like?

Most will experience a range of symptoms such as depression, anxiety, motor function disturbances, irritability, insomnia, hunger, and tiredness. The extent and number of symptoms varies depending typically on the individuals’ current and past intake, co-occurring addictions, and pre-existing health factors.


  • Can I detox myself from cocaine?

Self-detoxing, without medical assistance is *not* recommended. Detoxing from the stimulant can be dangerous, and result in severe, life threatening problems such as seizure, respiratory or cardiac issues, and mental illness. Always seek assistance from a medically trained professional, or a clinical admission with medical supervision, in the first instance, when considering detoxing from cocaine.


  • What medication will I receive for detoxing from cocaine?

There is no specific detox medication dedicated to withdrawal. Detox in a residential centre is managed on a supportive care basis, attending to withdrawal symptoms on an individual basis, as they arise.


  • What happens once detox completes?

Most detox centres will admit someone for cocaine treatment into rehab as opposed to detox alone. This means, that as soon as the detox from cocaine completes (or sometimes before), each person will be invited to begin taking part in the menu of therapeutic treatments available. The timescales for when this happens will vary from one person to another. Most clinics have a daily agenda of activities.


  • How long does cocaine treatment take?

Some will be able to successfully detox in as little as 14 days, however a period of 28 days at Abbeycare is the standard duration to maximise likelihood of enduring outcomes. This enables complete engagement in the cocaine rehab programme to uncover and address the underlying drivers which led to cocaine abuse in the first place.


  • What does cocaine treatment cost?

Abbeybot below can provide pricing guidelines for the types of services available for cocaine treatment admission. Please note that pricing and timescales of the most appropriate treatment is subject to assessment and approval by both our admissions and medical teams.


  • I’m using multiple substances +/- alcohol, as well as cocaine, am I suitable for treatment? 

Possibly, yes. We deal with those struggling with multi-substance abuse every day. Each individual person is assessed for suitability based on their personal pattern of addiction and circumstances, please speak with our admissions team for further advice.


  • Can I return to low-use cocaine in the future, following treatment?

No. Generally, most centres will expect you to choose to remain abstinent from now on, as part of treatment. In this way, most programs are focussed on your understanding and resolving the primary problems behind the addiction, to secure long-term success.


  • Where do you offer treatment?

We provide supervised detox from cocaine services at our two UK clinics, learn more at Abbeycare in Erskine, and Abbeycare Gloucester.

How To Book

To get help for Cocaine addiction with Abbeycare, call our admissions team direct on 01603 513 091, or request a callback, at a convenient time from one of our professionals.


Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: April 4, 2024