Cocaine Detox: What To Expect

Cocaine Detox: We’re With You

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To stop using cocaine and break free from addiction, one must undergo a cocaine detox. The process can be complex and challenging, but it is absolutely possible with professional help and support. 

This article explains exactly how to detox from cocaine. It will help you mentally prepare for the process or support a loved one who is ready to take the first step in overcoming their addiction to cocaine.

Key Facts:

  1. When a person stops using cocaine suddenly, the body struggles to adjust to the changes, resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
  2. Cocaine detoxification involves a combination of medical supervision, medications and psychological support.
  3. Medical detox is the safest option for eliminating cocaine from the system, and it helps the patient stay on the path toward recovery.
  4. The time to detox depends on how often and how much cocaine the patient used to consume.
  5. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms last from a week to over ten days.
  6. Detox is the first step to recovery from addiction. The second is undergoing treatment at a residential or outpatient addictions centre. 

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What Happens To Your Body and Mind When You Detox from Cocaine?

Following extended use, cocaine can become a part of the body’s normal functioning. It begins to rely on the drug for certain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin. The brain loses its ability to produce these chemicals independently in the way that it did before addiction. 

When addicted individuals stop using cocaine suddenly, the body struggles to adjust to the changes, and cocaine withdrawal symptoms manifest. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms are more psychological than physical.

Contrary to other substances, the addicts’ mental condition dictates the type of withdrawal symptoms they experience, including their emotions and behaviour.

Getting off cocaine alone may be possible, as there are usually no physical symptoms like other forms of addiction. Still, cocaine withdrawal can bring about severe psychological distress.

Withdrawing from cocaine can cause depression and anxiety. Acute withdrawal often induces hopelessness and despair, which can be hard to manage without medical help.

A medically supervised detox program is always the best choice for the safest recovery.

What Does Cocaine Detox Entail?

While rehabilitation is a long-term process that addresses all the underlying causes that prompted your addiction and related mental health issues, allowing you to rebuild a sober life, detoxing starts right when you stop using the drug. 

Your system flushes out residual toxins, and withdrawal symptoms appear as the body adjusts to functioning without cocaine. 

Cocaine detox in a medical facility includes having consistent clinical supervision, medications to manage uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and helpful psychological support.

What Causes Cocaine Withdrawal?

The only way to stop using cocaine is to go cold turkey and stop consuming it abruptly. But, as we mentioned before, after long-term cocaine use, the brain of the user is reliant on the substance to produce happy hormones.

After cutting off cocaine, people struggling with addiction cannot regain emotional stability immediately and feel happiness and contentment. Even those who wish to keep using cocaine experience withdrawal symptoms after a binge, known as the crash.

During a cocaine crash, users deal with intense cravings and become very irritated, depressed, and anxious. When they finally stop using cocaine for good, their brain needs time to adjust and start delivering feel-good hormones naturally again.

Even though cocaine withdrawal symptoms are not physically dangerous or painful like alcohol withdrawal symptoms, they are psychologically overwhelming and mentally damaging.

Withdrawal is even more challenging if the addicted person suffers from underlying mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

What Factors Determine the Severity and Length of Withdrawal Symptoms?

As everyone experiences cocaine addiction differently, withdrawal also differs for each patient. 

The length and intensity of withdrawal symptoms vary based on the duration of use or any coexisting addictions or mental health conditions. 

The longer a person has used, the more dependent they are on the drug for daily functioning, the more intense their cravings are, and the longer their withdrawal symptoms last.

Is a Medical Detox Necessary for Cocaine Withdrawal?

Medical detox is the safest option for eliminating cocaine from the system under the supervision of experts who can provide medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, as well as psychological support and guidance. 

Abruptly quitting cocaine is the only way to break the vicious cycle of addiction and recover completely. 

Even though cocaine withdrawal is less physically demanding than withdrawal from other drugs, it can still be psychologically draining due to the brain’s difficulty returning to normal functioning after prolonged use. 

The user may experience extreme levels of emotional distress, which causes them to relapse and abandon their recovery plans. Cocaine withdrawal can induce intense mood swings, severe depression, and suicidal thoughts. Trying to quit cocaine without professional help can be extremely dangerous.

What Are the Benefits of Medical Detox for Cocaine?

Medical detox, as opposed to self-led detox, is beneficial because it provides users with constant supervision and helps to manage withdrawal symptoms with additional medications and treatments.

For instance, specialists may prescribe antidepressants to those who suffer from depression or give sleeping medication to those to struggle with insomnia.

In addition, many individuals addicted to cocaine, just like any other kind of addiction, have underlying mental health issues that doctors can address during the detox period to ensure they safely get through their withdrawal.

The cocaine withdrawal process is also associated with intense cravings, leaving recovering individuals at a high risk of relapse. Medical detox helps stay on the path toward recovery and push through the most crucial part of rehabilitation without resuming use.

cocaine detox

How Long Does It Take To Detox from Cocaine?

At Castle Craig, patients receive individual detox treatment programmes tailored to their needs. The time to detox depends on how often and how much cocaine the patient used to consume. The age and gender of the person impact detox duration, too.

The better the patient’s overall health, the quicker their system will get rid of cocaine and adjust to being clean.

When developing a treatment plan, specialists consider any mental or physical health conditions, and potential co-occurring substance abuse issues, for the speediest and safest detox process.

How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last?

Depending on the length and severity of cocaine abuse and a patient’s mental and physical state, withdrawal symptoms last from a few weeks to several months.

Usually, the cocaine withdrawal timeline follows the three different phases described below.

1. The Crash Phase (Acute-Withdrawal Phase)

The crash phase begins right after the last dose of cocaine and can last anywhere from one to two weeks. It typically involves acute anxiety, fatigue, inability to experience positive emotions, nervousness, and sleeplessness despite feelings of exhaustion. 

Alongside these psychological symptoms, patients often experience intense cravings. Suicidal thoughts or paranoia might also surface. 

2. The Craving Phase (Post-Acute Withdrawal Phase)

During the first few days, sleep normalises while anxiety and cravings reduce to low levels. The individual’s mood improves as well. 

But after that brief period of stabilisation, the state begins to worsen with the return of mood swings, negative emotions, an inability to feel joy, and a lack of energy. The individual grows more anxious and irritable, and the cravings intensify.

The craving phase lasts for about five days. 

3. The Extinction Phase (Protracted Withdrawal)

During this phase, patients gradually start to feel normal again and experience pleasure once more. Cravings come and go in waves, as can psychotic episodes. The risk of relapse never disappears entirely. 

The individual may experience lingering fatigue, low mental and physical energy, and depression that lasts for weeks or months. For some, suicidal thoughts may also persist. 

Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal Management

Withdrawing from cocaine is difficult, but taking specific steps can help make the process more bearable and easier to manage. 

Get Plenty of Sleep 

Be mindful of your sleeping patterns and focus on cultivating better sleep habits. 

Getting enough rest is crucial to being strong enough to withstand the psychological effects of cocaine withdrawal while allowing your body to repair and rejuvenate itself.

Eat Well

Cocaine addiction is rarely compatible with a balanced lifestyle filled with nutritious meals. 

When stopping the drug and going through detox, it is vital to prioritise consuming healthy food to replenish lost body stores of essential vitamins and minerals and to rebuild physical and mental stamina.

Strengthen Your Support System

Cocaine addiction can wreak havoc on interpersonal relationships, but those seeking recovery and detox must remember to keep their loved ones close. 

Maintaining contact with family and engaging them in the recovery process can help mend broken bonds and make them even stronger than before. 

Begin the journey towards recovery by starting family therapy after detoxing. This approach effectively addresses the underlying family issues that may have contributed to the addiction or its effects on other family members.

Start Exercising When Possible

Getting active is the ideal way to boost your vitality and strength. 

Start exercising whenever you can to give yourself an energetic fresh start mentally and physically.

Stay Busy and Seek Joy

The root cause of addiction is often unhappiness or a lack of joy in life, coupled with boredom. 

Finding new and exciting activities and hobbies can help replace the urge to seek out drugs with a feeling of fulfilment. Looking for healthy sources of pleasure also entices you to explore life’s full potential and achieve happiness without drugs.

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Medications Used During Cocaine Withdrawal To Treat Detox Symptoms

Upon admission to an inpatient rehab facility for a cocaine detox programme, a team of medical professionals assesses the patient’s condition and all relevant factors such as age, medical history, and any existing mental health conditions. 

After a thorough evaluation, they provide the patient with a treatment plan to facilitate their recovery.

There are no specific drugs to treat cocaine addiction and its associated withdrawal symptoms. Detox programmes may use medications to soothe the central nervous system during acute withdrawal. 

In addition, prolonged use of cocaine interferes with how the brain produces GABA and dopamine. To fight depressive symptoms and help patients feel more relaxed during withdrawal, doctors may suggest medications to restore healthy levels of these hormones.

Some medications aim at easing withdrawal, while others may be helpful for the long haul to prevent relapse.

Stimulants like Modafinil effectively treat drowsiness and apathy associated with cocaine withdrawal, making patients more alert.

Anticonvulsants like Topiramate prevent seizures and restlessness.

Disulfiram is an especially promising medication used historically to treat alcohol addiction.

Emerging research suggests disulfiram also helps curb cocaine relapse by regulating dopamine production in the brain.

Treatment for Cocaine Addiction 

Treating cocaine addiction can be lengthy and tiring, but the staff at Castle Craig understand how and where to begin. 

Once the patient arrives at the centre, specialists start working with them to provide immediate help. After a medical and psychological examination, the patient and the team know what issues need particular attention to make the recovery process smooth. Together, they build a  personalised treatment plan – an individual roadmap to recovery.  

During detox, 24/7 medical monitoring is available, and each patient can learn how to relax through yoga and mindfulness and enjoy balanced meals daily. 

Castle Craig experts prescribe medications if necessary and remain with the patients during tough times. 

After detox, 1:1 counselling, group therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) begin. These therapies help patients understand their addiction, cope with cravings and decrease the risk of relapse. 

At Castle Craig, we also offer additional complementary therapies like art therapy, equine therapy, and creative writing to support recovery. 

Patients at Castle Craig leave residential treatment with a personalised aftercare programme to help them transition successfully to a life of sobriety in the community.

FAQs

How Long is Cocaine Detected in the Body?

Cocaine can be detectable in the body up to three days after last use, with heavy users testing positive even weeks later. 

How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Urine?

Urine tests detect cocaine for up to 3-4 days, longer than saliva or blood samples.

Can I Detox from Cocaine At Home?

Cocaine withdrawal produces severe psychological symptoms, and attempting to detox at home is possible, but it can be dangerous.

What Are the Potential Risks and Side Effects of Cocaine Detox?

The main risk associated with cocaine detoxification is withdrawal symptoms, but withdrawal is manageable with medications and proper care.

References

  1. Kampman, K. M. (n.d.). New medications for the treatment of cocaine dependence. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2994240/
  2. Kelley, B. J., Yeager, K. R., Pepper, T., & Beversdorf, D. Q. (2005). Cognitive impairment in acute cocaine withdrawal. Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, 18(2), 108–112. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.wnn.0000160823.61201.20 
  3. Easing cocaine withdrawal. (2001). JAMA, 285(19), 2439. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.285.19.2439 

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