Cocaine Withdrawal And Detox
Cocaine withdrawal causes physical and psychological side effects. These withdrawal symptoms are best managed by a medical detox program as part of a substance abuse rehab program.
Substances of addiction come with symptoms of withdrawal. Cocaine is no different. The symptoms associated with cocaine withdrawal include agitation, problems with sleep and extreme tiredness.
Many individuals continue to abuse cocaine in order to avoid cocaine withdrawal, which can maintain a cocaine addiction. Cocaine withdrawal has been reported as one of the most common reasons a person continues to abuse cocaine.
Seeking a medical detox program to derail a cocaine addiction can help a person achieve sobriety. It is strongly encouraged for individuals who want to stop abusing cocaine and stay clean.
The supervision and medical services offered in a detox unit provide round the clock care for individuals experiencing cocaine withdrawal symptoms. During this time a person can purge their bodies of cocaine and other toxins, which preparing for recovery treatment.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
The euphoric effects of cocaine take hold quickly and leave just as fast. No matter how a person abuses cocaine (snort, smoke, freebase or inject), it takes effect within seconds to a few minutes and only lasts ten to 20 minutes.
Once the effects of cocaine wear off, a person abusing cocaine may experience what is commonly referred to as a crash, or comedown. Cocaine crash symptoms may include:
- extreme sleepiness
After a cocaine crash, cocaine withdrawal symptoms begin to emerge. These symptoms are both physical and psychological. The length of the withdrawal period is based on length of use, severity of cocaine use, and other individual factors.
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Commonly experienced cocaine withdrawal side effects include:
- severe depression
- anger and agitation
- erratic sleeping patterns
- problems concentrating
- excessive fatigue
- psychomotor issues
- intense cocaine cravings
Cocaine Withdrawal And Mental Health
Cocaine abuse, addiction and withdrawal have all been found to be contributing factors in mental health issues. Cocaine has been linked to the development of some mental disorders, as well as worsening the symptoms of existing disorders.
Individuals with mental health diagnosis report experiencing withdrawal symptoms more often and intense cocaine cravings compared to those that do not.
Overall, cocaine and cocaine withdrawal significantly affects the mental health of those who are addicted. Detox programs that address both the physical and psychological effects of cocaine addiction and withdrawal are of significant benefit to those struggling with cocaine abuse.
Cocaine Withdrawal Without A Detox Program
Several different opinions exist surrounding stopping cocaine ‘cold turkey’. Some individuals have stopped using cocaine after a period of time without significant withdrawal symptoms, while others have ended up hospitalized.
When a person stops using after heavy cocaine use over a period of time, they may experience violent episodes and extreme withdrawal symptoms.
Medically supervised detox programs are equipped to offer an alternative to cold-turkey. A method known as tapering will gradually lower the dose of cocaine in the body over a determined length of time.
Tapering, along with the addition of other medications, nutrients and supplements are also offered at medically supervised detox units. This detox units also prevent the person from relapsing by addressing cravings, as well as withdrawal symptoms, on site.
Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline
The duration of cocaine withdrawal depends on a number of factors. Length of use, amount of cocaine consumed daily as well as personal, individual differences.
Specific individual differences that can affect the cocaine withdrawal timeline are environment, peer pressure, trauma, physical and mental health.
However, research has discovered a timeline that is similar across people in cocaine withdrawal. In 1986, two research doctors published an article that provides details of the three phases that make up the cocaine withdrawal timeline, explained below:
- Phase One or The Crash (Week One): This phase is characterized by insomnia, bouts of uncomfortable or restless sleep, and continued fatigue regardless of sleep. Cravings diminish over the course of this phase, as the need for sleep continues to increase.
- Phase Two or Cocaine Withdrawal (Weeks One Thru Four): After the crash phase, there is a brief period of time where the person has little to no cravings, a restored sleep pattern and feels much better. This period lasts between one and five days, on average.
Researchers found that people in cocaine withdrawal become hyper focused on obtaining, affording, and hiding their cocaine use, if the opportunity allowed. A person in this phase is highly vulnerable to relapse and binging cocaine.
- Phase Three or Extinction (Week Five and Beyond): At this point, cravings decrease and other withdrawal symptoms begin to wane. Some triggers can provoke intense withdrawal, typically emotional or situational triggers. Managing and overcoming these cravings during extinction is important to long term sobriety from cocaine addiction.
Cocaine withdrawal quickly sets in, and the person begins to feel anxious, lethargic and cravings for cocaine emerge. The person looks back fondly on memories of cocaine use, and when left untreated, these cravings and desires to use keep increasing.
Withdrawal effects can last up to ten weeks, phasing in and out over that time. Succumbing to cocaine cravings can result in a person addicted to cocaine relapsing and cycling through phase one and two repeatedly.
A medically supervised detox can provide an environment that is helpful for those who seek help for cocaine withdrawal symptoms. The medical staff can help ease the discomfort of cocaine withdrawal, and other staff can assist with the early stages of treatment and future placement.
Cocaine Withdrawal – Easing Withdrawal Symptoms
Someone experiencing cocaine withdrawal may describe several physical and mental symptoms that continue to pile on one another, until the circumstances become unbearable and day-to-day function feels impossible.
A person addicted to cocaine may continue to abuse cocaine to avoid the pileup of cocaine withdrawal symptoms. They may also make attempts to restore balance to their brain and neurotransmitter levels by using medications and supplements. Both can be dangerous.
Many of the medications listed below will treat symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, however these drugs can also have negative or addictive properties when used improperly. These are some of the more commonly used supplements and prescriptions used to treat cocaine withdrawal:
- desipramine (Noraprim)
- n-acetylcysteine (NAC)
- zolpidem (Ambien)
- alprazolam (Xanax)
- diazepam (Valium)
- lorazepam (Ativan)
Attempting to use over the counter medications, supplements or prescription medications to treat cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be just as dangerous as cocaine addiction, especially if proper dosages are not followed.
Abstinence from cocaine is the only certain treatment for cocaine withdrawal. The medical professionals at a detoxification unit will provide supervision and appropriate medications to treat symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, to ensure cocaine use is not occurring.
Detox is offered to individuals struggling with a physically addictive drug. It is important to remove the drug from the body, while easing the discomfort associated with withdrawal symptoms. All of which can be achieved at a medically supervised detox.
Flushing cocaine from the system is an important part of detox, but restoring the balance within the body and mind is equally important. Cocaine disrupts the regular dopamine function in the brain, and these disruptions can be difficult to correct, especially with long term cocaine addiction.
Evaluating mental health during the detox phase can offer insight into how an addiction developed to begin with, as well as determine any after effects of cocaine use. Antidepressants can help restore balance within the brain, and treat many mental health disorders.
Physical health is equally important, and medical professionals assess and determine the level of medical care that is necessary to restore the person to a healthy state.
Assessing level of addiction and determining substances of abuse are also imperative during the early stages of detox. This allows for a treatment plan to be developed in order to provide appropriate care throughout detox.
The length of stay at a detox facility for cocaine addiction and withdrawal is determined on a case by case basis. Due to the uniqueness of each situation, it is difficult to determine a specific length of time a person can expect to be at a detox center for cocaine withdrawal.
We can help you find a location that meets the needs of you or your loved one. Cocaine addiction is complicated and quitting can be difficult. Allow us to help find a facility that can ease cocaine withdrawal symptoms and start the journey into recovery.Article Sources
Addictive Behaviors - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306460316302088
American Journal on Addictions - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10550490701755999
Australian Government Department of Health - https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-toc~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7~drugtreat-pubs-modpsy-3-7-cws
Medline Plus - https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm
Psychopharmacology - https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-008-1089-8