How Long Should Detox for Cocaine Abusers Last?

Detox may take as long as several months due to the severity of the condition and the length of time withdrawal symptoms may last for an individual struggling with cocaine addiction.

Cocaine Withdrawal and Detox

The withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine are in fact some of the most severe and prolonged symptoms associated with any type of drug (National Library of Medicine). Cocaine abuse and addiction is known to cause intense withdrawal symptoms that are mostly psychological in nature, including

  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Malaise
  • Discomfort
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid and unpleasant dreams
  • Slowing of activity
  • Irritability
  • Intense cravings

In addition, some individuals experience a severe but temporary psychosis during cocaine withdrawal that can cause delusions, hallucinations, and violent behavior. This usually subsides over a week or so, though it must be treated with medications and, in many cases, an inpatient stay in a detox or rehab center that protects the patient from stimulation that could worsen the syndrome. Unfortunately, some individuals experience issues with flare-ups of these psychotic symptoms even years after their last cocaine use.

How Long Should Cocaine Detox Take?

In most cases, patients require a longer amount of time during cocaine detox than other detox programs normally take. For example, one may need a week or two to go through opioid detox, but cocaine detox may take a month or longer. It is important for cocaine addicts to attend longer detox programs for several reasons.

  • The withdrawal effects associated with stimulants, especially cravings and depression, can last for months after cessation. Many individuals struggle with these issues for a long time because they do not quickly disappear. As a result, some patients need extra time to just focus on their withdrawal symptoms and detox from cocaine as opposed to jumping straight into addiction treatment.
  • Because those who experience psychotic effects after ceasing their use of cocaine have a potential of experiencing these effects again later in their recoveries, patients must learn how to recognize and cope with these symptoms, should they resurface. This could require therapy that focuses specifically on this issue.
  • Withdrawal from cocaine can make a person’s activities and thoughts slow down immensely. Once this symptom begins to subside, the individual will be able focus better on their recovery and treatment, but during this time, it can be very difficult to do so. The slowing effect can also take time to disappear, meaning many patients must be allowed to work through this issue before starting further treatment.

Can Detox Continue Into Addiction Treatment?

In some cases, yes, a patient being treated for cocaine addiction may still be working on their steady detox from the drug. For example, many individuals experience depression for months after ceasing their cocaine abuse, and antidepressants may be administered and continued throughout this time, even if the patient is also being treated for their addiction syndrome.

In general, how long a person’s detox takes and whether or not they will be ready to start addiction treatment depends heavily on the specific individual’s needs and the decisions they make with their doctor. Some detox programs are part of rehab in that patients go through both processes in the same treatment facility. Because detox from cocaine can take such a long time, this is sometimes a beneficial practice, but the patient should be assessed for their ability to focus on addiction treatment while still going through detox.