Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Cocaine withdrawal is painful and gut-wrenching.  However, there are actually many natural remedies that will cut down on withdrawal.  That will be the focus of this article, which can change the life of anyone you know who’s suffering from such horrible withdrawal.

cocaine addiction

Before we get into the details, let’s look at how big a problem cocaine addiction is.

Cocaine Addiction

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reveals that in 2014, 913,000 Americans were dependent on drugs.  A 2011 report from DAWN, the Drug Abuse Warning Network, shows that in 2011, cocaine caused half a million emergency room visits—this amounts to almost half of all drug-related emergency room visits.

Cocaine is so highly addictive because of the intense pleasure it causes.  It sometimes makes people feel energy and concentration.  It can also make people feel strong and confident, if not invincible.

As is the case with any hard drug, the pleasure gets less and less intense as a person gets habituated to the drug, and since they want more pleasure, they feel the need to take the drug more frequently and in larger doses.

Breaking the Addiction

It may go without saying that anyone addicted to cocaine should do everything possible to break this addiction.  But one should understand the negative effects of this vicious and highly-addictive substance.

Cocaine, first of all, causes nosebleeds and a loss of sense of smell, as well as trouble swallowing.  Prolonged use can lead to malnourishment and more chronic conditions such as:

  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • paranoia
  • auditory hallucinations
  • heart attacks or irregular heartbeat

The nature of cocaine causes it to be frequently overdosed on, and these overdoses may be deadly.

While we have limited space to discuss the horrors of cocaine, one of the best ways to learn about it in vivid detail is the book Cocaine Addiction: Treatment, Recovery, and Relapse Prevention by Arnold Washton, PhD.

Anyone addicted to cocaine or with a loved one who is must gain as detailed an understanding of the addiction and its various components.  The more one learns, the more one will become committed to breaking the habit.


That brings us to the main focus of this article, the withdrawals that are likely to occur when a person takes the courageous step of quitting cocaine.

In short, withdrawals from quitting cocaine involve a craving for the intense pleasures of the drug and its short-term positive effects on the pleasure centers of a person’s brain.  According to Medlineplus, symptoms of cocaine withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Increased Appetite
  • Nightmares
  • Slowed activity

Unfortunately, these maladies can justify returning to the drug.  If one feels bad physically in addition to emotionally, one may feel that something is just inherently wrong.  That makes the quitting the enemy.

One issue to keep in mind is that many people turn to anti-depressants, other prescription meds, or substances like alcohol to help with the symptoms.  This can often lead to addiction to that substance.

Often, withdrawal coincides with bi-polar disorder or other psychological malaise.  In some cases, these psychological disorders had not been present before the person stopped using cocaine.  However, it has yet to be proven that cocaine withdrawals cause these psychological issues.

Natural Remedies

Those suffering the withdrawals of stopping cocaine use should seek natural remedies.  There are many products that are completely natural, meaning they are chemical-free and healthy in general, that can help cut down the symptoms of withdrawal.  You can ask your doctors for the proper quantities of these drugs.

Remedying Falling Dopamine

Dopamine is a brain chemical responsible for creating feelings of pleasure.  It helps people recognize pleasurable sensations or feelings (“rewards”) and to seek them.  Being low in dopamine is what causes people to allows try to feed it, to keep getting more pleasure.  Cocaine addiction is one expression of this.

When a person is going through withdrawals, it’s important to keep dopamine levels as high as possible.  Here are some products that can do so:

L-Tyrosine– This amino acid is a natural precursor to dopamine.  It should be taken two-three times per day before a meal, but remember to consult with your physician.  This will not only stop a person from being desperate to feel pleasure, but will aid in depression and in low energy.

Rhodiola– This herb has traditionally been found in Chinese medicine.  It boosts both energy levels and serotonin levels.  Serotonin is the chemical lacking in people diagnosed with clinical depression.

Magnolia Bark Powder– This extract also dates back to ancient China.  It contains honokiol, which acts as a phytoestrogen.

It has been known to fight many maladies, including depression and anxiety.  This product hasn’t been as widely tested as some of the others, so it should be treated with some caution.  Start with slow doses and carefully monitor yourself.

Scutellaria Root Powder– This herbal extract can lower blood pressure and help kidney function.  These can both be of some benefit to people who are suffering cocaine withdrawals, even if these are not the central conditions in play. Scutellaria powder increases energy, in addition to keeping dopamine levels from dropping.  This can aid in the general well-being of a withdrawal sufferer and cause him or her to feel better in general and less susceptible to back-sliding.

Passion Flower– This extract plays an extremely important role in one’s recovery from withdrawal.  It sensitizes a person’s receptors to dopamine.  It also builds up GABA levels.  GABA is short for gamma-aminobutryic acid, another neurotransmitter, or chemical in the brain.  Low levels of GABA are associated with depression or mood disorders.

N-Acetyl Cysteine- NAC is another amino acid and a powerful anti-oxidant.  It is naturally present in the body.  It fights excessive glutamate buildup and balances dopamine levels, making it particularly applicable for cocaine withdrawals.

Products to Cut Down Excessive Glutamate

Glutamate is synonymous with glutamic acid.  It is caused when neurons are deprived of oxygen and it kills brain cells.  A buildup of it is present in people suffering withdrawals.

Taurine– This is a fairly well-known substance.  It tends to have a calming effect.  It also promotes the health of the hippocampus, which is important in learning new things, so it’s valuable when a person is recovering from an addiction.

Glycine– Glycine is like a basketball player who denies the ball to the man he’s defending.  It binds to glutamate, preventing the buildup, which, as outlined above, is the enemy.  It is often used in treatment for schizophrenia.

L-Glutamine– This is another amino acid.  It is known to help with depression and insomnia.  It promotes protein synthesis and aids the immune system.

Products to Increase Serotonin

Pantothenic Acid– This is also known as Vitamin B5.  It has some role in increasing both serotonin and dopamine.  It helps the nervous system interact with the brain and acts as an anti-oxidant.  Importantly, it also increases energy.

One of the interesting things about Pantothenic Acid is that it can be taken in high doses (again, consult your doctor) because it is rarely measured in quantities that amount to toxicity.

L-Tryptophan– This is a substance that is often discussed as being found in turkey, causing drowsiness after people eat the animal.  Tryptophan plays a major role in helping withdrawals by helping a person fall asleep.

Tryptophan does also increase serotonin levels.  For that reason, you shouldn’t take it if you are using Prozac or other SSRIs or SNRIs.

B Complex– In addition to giving some aid to serotonin production, a B complex supplement helps with dopamine too, so it’s a must.  Vitamin B will give you more energy

Peter Smith. Balancing Brain Chemistry.
Tyrosine. University of Maryland Medical Center.
The Benefits of Magnolia Bark.
Glutamate. The Free Dictionary.
Cathy Wong, ND. L-Glutamine Supplements.

Photo by Lou Tickle on Flickr