Cocaine stays in a person’s system for a very short period. Symptoms of withdrawal, however, will appear quickly after last use. The intensity of symptoms depends on how often a person uses crack and/or cocaine.
Withdrawal is a process and is divided into three phases to this process.
1. The Crash: This cocaine withdrawal phase usually happens between a few hours and a few days of a person’s last use. Many people experience extreme depression and exhaustion, along with irritability and restlessness. Some may even experience suicidal thoughts during this phase alone.
2. Continued Withdrawal: During this phase, a person’s ability to function and mood will improve because dopamine levels are normalizing. However, the person may report feeling unable to feel any pleasure or just bored or feel a lack of energy during this phase. Cravings may continue for up to 10 weeks. People should be vigilant as many relapse during the continued withdrawal phase.
3. Extinction: This phase generally lasts up to six months. Users may experience intense cravings during this time that can come and go sporadically.
The most intense withdrawal symptoms usually last one and two weeks. However, the intensity and the duration of the withdrawal itself will be different for each person. Those who had a mild to moderate cocaine use pattern can expect withdrawal symptoms to decrease in no more than 18 hours. For those who have used cocaine heavily, they usually experience peak symptoms within two to four days.