How Long Does Craving For Cocaine Last?

Addressing the frequently asked questions dealing with addiction.

Question:

How long does craving for cocaine last?  I stopped smoking crack fifteen days ago.

Answer:

Smoking cocaine delivers the greatest dose the fastest and, therefore, produces the greatest desire for the drug when you stop using it.  Craving is very intense the first four to five days after you stop and then it continues along at various lower levels of intensity for about two weeks beyond that.  You might still feel a desire to use the drug after that period but your nervous system adjusts to the absence of cocaine.  The intensity of the craving after snorting cocaine is somewhat less.

However, the cocaine residues in the circuits of the brain, the vivid memory of the cocaine high and craving can be activated in most recovering addicts by cues such as seeing drug paraphernalia or powdered sugar or sweetener; just seeing these things, or hearing accounts of cocaine use, or passing through a neighborhood where cocaine was purchased can start your compulsion to use the drug again.  Treatment for cocaine dependence includes dealing with these cues or triggers to the more intense cravings you might have.  Just how long these reminders will fire up a desire in you to use cocaine I cannot say with accuracy, but this phenomenon is much more vivid in the recovering cocaine addict than in persons dependent on any other drug (alcohol, etc).

There is good news - cocaine addicts have a high chance of complete recovery with treatment.  Good luck to you.

"Sober Days" ran in the Palm Springs daily newspaper, the Desert Sun, for several years in the 1990s-2000s. The popular Q&A column was written by Dr. James West, the Betty Ford Center’s first medical director. He remained with the Betty Ford Center until 2007, when he retired at age 93.

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