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Cocaine Signs, Withdrawal Symptoms and Side Effects

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Cocaine is a powerful drug that can lead to dependency, overdose, and death. In 2021, 24,486 people died from an overdose involving cocaine.

Detoxing the body from cocaine use can take several days to weeks. Withdrawal symptoms typically peak within a few days after the last use and can last several weeks. During this time, individuals may experience intense cravings, fatigue, depression, anxiety, and irritability.

If you or someone you love has a substance use disorder, Guardian Recovery is available to help. We are dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and individualized medically monitored detox program. To learn more about our programs, contact us today.

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Withdrawal Symptoms, Overdose Signs, & Side Effects of Cocaine Use

Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that can have various physical and psychological effects on the body. Here are some of the withdrawal symptomsoverdose signs, and side effects of cocaine use:

Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Agitation.
  • Insomnia.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Intense cravings for cocaine.
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Overdose Signs:

  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Agitation or confusion.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Chest pain or tightness.
  • Tremors or seizures.
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
  • Coma or death.

Side Effects:

  • Euphoria.
  • Increased energy and alertness.
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Constricted blood vessels.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Insomnia.
  • Irritability and anxiety.
  • Restlessness and tremors.
  • Hallucinations and paranoia.
  • Seizures.

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Physical & Psychological Side Effects of Using Cocaine

Cocaine is a powerful and highly addictive stimulant drug that can have various physical side effects on the body. Here are some of the most common physical side effects of cocaine.

Most Common Physical Side Effects of Cocaine: 

  • Increased Heart Rate & Blood Pressure – Cocaine use can cause a rapid increase in heart rate and blood pressure, which can be dangerous for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Constricted Blood Vessels – Cocaine use can cause blood vessels to constrict, reducing blood flow to various body parts, including the heart and brain.
  • Dilated Pupils – Cocaine use can cause pupils to dilate, making it difficult to see in bright light.
  • Increased Body Temperature – Cocaine use can cause a rapid increase in body temperature, which can lead to hyperthermia and other serious health problems.
  • Nausea & Vomiting – Cocaine use can cause nausea and vomiting, especially if the drug is ingested orally or mixed with other substances.
  • Insomnia – Cocaine use can disrupt sleep patterns, leading to insomnia and other sleep-related problems.
  • Muscle Twitches – Cocaine use can cause muscle twitches and spasms, especially in the face and extremities.
  • Seizures – Cocaine use can trigger seizures, especially in individuals with pre-existing seizure disorders.

Unfortunately, because cocaine impacts dopamine, GABA, and the structural components of the brain, there are psychological effects that occur from cocaine use. Psychiatric symptoms include agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, violence, and suicidal and homicidal ideation. Additionally, if a person is already diagnosed with a comorbid mental health disorder, cocaine can exacerbate the symptoms of the co-occurring mood disorder.

Research has found paranoia in 68-84% of patients using cocaine. 55% of people were found to have engaged in violent behaviors, and homicide occurred in 31% of patients who used cocaine. Suicide has appeared in 18-22% of cases. Finally, many people diagnosed with a comorbid psychological disorder were found to have cocaine dependence.

Short-Term Side Effects

Cocaine use has significant short and long-term effects. Taking small amounts of cocaine makes the user feel alert, awake, more talkative, and confident. They might experience a reduced appetite and need for sleep.

Long-Term Effects

The long-term effects of chronic cocaine use can be severe. Adverse effects include anxiety, panic attacks, reduced blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract, significant weight loss, malnourishment, permanent damage to the heart and cardiovascular system, increased risk of stroke, permanent damage to the nasal passageways, and a sharp decline in cognitive functioning.

Dangers & Side Effects of Mixing Cocaine With Other Drugs

Mixing cocaine with other drugs, including alcohol and prescription medications, can be extremely dangerous and increase the risk of serious health problems, including overdose and death. Here are some dangers and side effects of mixing cocaine with other drugs.

  • Cocaine & Alcohol – Cocaine and alcohol are central nervous system (CNS) stimulants, and mixing the two can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and liver damage. The combination of cocaine and alcohol can also lead to the formation of cocaethylene, a highly toxic substance that can cause serious health problems.
  • Cocaine & Opioids – Mixing cocaine with opioids, such as heroin or prescription painkillers, can be extremely dangerous and increase the risk of overdose and death. The combination of these drugs can cause respiratory depression, seizures, and heart failure.
  • Cocaine & Benzodiazepines – Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax or Valium, are central nervous system depressants, and mixing them with cocaine can be dangerous. The combination of these drugs can cause respiratory depression, seizures, and cardiac arrest.
  • Cocaine & Prescription Medications – Mixing cocaine with prescription medications, such as antidepressants or stimulants, can also be dangerous and increase the risk of side effects, including seizures, hypertension, and heart problems.

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What Symptoms Are Caused By an Overdose of Cocaine?

The reality is that most of the time, cocaine is laced with highly toxic, addictive, potent drugs. Fentanyl is deadly. Levamisole is toxic. Cocaine alone is extremely dangerous; mixing cocaine with unknown substances can cause extreme bodily interactions.

Signs of Overdose:

  • Small, pinpoint pupils.
  • Falling asleep, losing consciousness.
  • Slow, weak breathing.
  • Choking or gurgling sounds.
  • Limp body.
  • Cold, clammy skin.
  • Discolored skin, lips, and nails.

Co-Occurring Disorders Caused by Cocaine Use

Many individuals struggling with cocaine addiction may also be experiencing co-occurring mental health disorders. This is commonly referred to as dual diagnosis. It can complicate the treatment process and require a comprehensive approach to address the addiction and the underlying mental health condition.

Some common co-occurring mental health disorders with cocaine addiction include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions can often contribute to the development of addiction and can make it more challenging for individuals to overcome their substance abuse.

Withdrawal Symptoms Caused by Cocaine Addiction & Dependence

The withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction can be severe and may include depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, increased appetite, and intense cravings for the drug. These symptoms can be overwhelming and challenging to manage without proper medical attention.

Patients can receive medications and other treatments in a medically supervised detoxification program to manage their withdrawal symptoms and minimize discomfort. Healthcare professionals can monitor patients for potential complications and provide ongoing support throughout detoxification.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

The withdrawal timeline of cocaine can vary from person to person, but generally, symptoms begin within a few hours after the last use and peak within a few days. After that, symptoms may gradually improve over the next few weeks.

During the initial withdrawal stage, individuals may experience intense cravings for the drug and physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms can last several days, and the severity can be more intense for individuals with severe addiction.

After the initial stage of withdrawal, the symptoms usually begin to subside. However, some individuals may experience residual symptoms for several weeks, such as insomnia, fatigue, and mood swings. In some cases, individuals may also experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), lasting for several months or even years.

Treatment for Withdrawal Symptoms & the Effects of Cocaine

Stimulant dependence, including cocaine addiction, can be a challenging condition to overcome. However, several common forms of treatment are effective in managing stimulant dependence and promoting long-term recovery.

Guardian Recovery Cocaine Treatment Includes:

  • Medically Assisted Detox.
  • Dual Diagnosis Programs.
  • Inpatient addiction treatment programs.
  • Partial Hospitalization Programs.
  • Intensive Outpatient Programs.

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At Guardian Recovery, we remain dedicated to providing our clients with a comprehensive program of cocaine detox — one that focuses on much more than physical stabilization. In addition to emphasizing physical recovery, we tackle mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. While prioritizing a safe and pain-free cocaine withdrawal, we offer individualgroup, and family therapy sessions, case management services, relapse prevention training, and aftercare planning.

Contact us today if you or your loved one is ready to begin an entirely new way of life and commit to long-term recovery. As soon as you call, we start developing a plan of action that begins with an initial pre-assessment. This assessment helps us determine the most appropriate level of care for each unique case. We identify potential coverage options if our medically monitored detox program is a good fit. We work closely with most major regional and national insurance providers. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation insurance benefit check.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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