How to Overcome Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine is among the most addictive drugs people use to enjoy effects like increased alertness, energy, and euphoria. In 2020, over 5.2 million Americans aged 12 and above abused cocaine. If you use cocaine continuously, you will become dependent on the drug and find it difficult to stop its use. Any attempt to stop using it will be met with severe withdrawal symptoms. Read below to learn more about cocaine detox, cocaine withdrawal symptoms, and rehabilitation.
Cocaine withdrawal develops when you have used cocaine for an extended period and then abruptly cut back the amount you use or stop using it completely. Withdrawal is among the deadly risks of the continuous use of this drug because the symptoms of withdrawal manifest both psychologically and physically.
If you suffer withdrawal, it means your body has learned to depend on the drug to function normally. So, when you lower the quantity or stop using it, your body will react as it adjusts to working without the drug.
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal includes many uncomfortable behavioral, psychological, and physical symptoms. The common symptoms include:
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
- Oversleeping or sleeping difficulties
- Persistent cocaine cravings
- Increased appetite
- Slowed movements
- Low physical or mental energy
- Depression (which may include suicidal thoughts)
- A deeply dysphoric mood
How Long Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms Last
The duration for cocaine withdrawal symptoms to subside varies from one person to the next because it depends on many factors, including the user’s health condition. If you reduce the amount of cocaine you use or stop using the drug, you may start experiencing the symptoms after a few hours or days.
The symptoms may persist for days, weeks, or months, depending on how severe your addiction is. The withdrawal symptoms may come in phases as described below.
Acute withdrawal is the phase in which the withdrawal symptoms set in. Also known as the “crash,” this phase is associated with intense cravings and feelings of dysphoria.
You may experience low energy levels, fatigue, agitation, and acute anxiety. Dysphoria may eventually evolve into severe depression, which can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts in some cases. In the acute withdrawal phase, you may also feel exhausted and experience insomnia. The “crash” phase can last up to seven days or more and is the most uncomfortable withdrawal phase.
Post-acute withdrawal, the second stage of cocaine withdrawal, is associated with drug cravings, increased appetite, excessive mood changes, excessive sleeping, and extreme exhaustion. This phase typically lasts two or more weeks from your last day of using cocaine.
Prolonged withdrawal is a phase that involves long-term drug withdrawal symptoms. It may last for weeks or months and is associated with bad experiences such as depression, anhedonia, lack of physical and mental energy, and lingering fatigue. These feelings can last for many months after the acute withdrawal phase. Suicidal thoughts may persist in this phase and can cause concern if that is the case. This phase is also associated with breakthrough symptoms such as psychotic episodes and intense cocaine cravings.
Factors that Determine the Length and Severity of Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
How long it will take you for withdrawal symptoms to subside will depend on factors such as the following.
Kind of Cocaine Used
In the U.S., cocaine products vary in purity. If the cocaine you used was laced with amphetamines or synthetic opioids, your detox would last longer than when it is a purer form of cocaine.
Method of Use
The method used to administer cocaine determines how fast it hits your bloodstream. Injecting or smoking cocaine allows it to enter your bloodstream more quickly than snorting. For this reason, the effect will be intense, and your detox will take longer. Snorting cocaine also requires detox, but the duration of treatment is shorter.
Crack is a form of cocaine smoked by users whose withdrawal symptoms set in more quickly than other forms of cocaine. Crack withdrawal symptoms may set in within the first hour of stopping its use. With other forms of cocaine, the symptoms occur a few hours or days after a person’s last use.
Duration of Use
The timeframe you spend using cocaine will determine how long your treatment will take. Many serious addicts have used this drug for years, and their treatment will last longer. Also, the quantity of cocaine consumed matters. When you have used cocaine for many years, your withdrawal symptoms will last longer, especially if you have used it frequently and in large quantities. Your withdrawal symptoms may also be severe, requiring a more extended stay in a medical facility under strict medical supervision.
Cocaine Medical Detox: Do You Need It?
Though cocaine withdrawal symptoms aren’t as life-threatening as other drugs, they can be severe. However, some medical issues associated with withdrawal may require strict clinical oversight. Many medical experts consider the most serious cocaine withdrawal symptom to be severe depression that leads to suicidal thoughts. If you are a victim of such thoughts, you need close medical attention and withdrawal treatment as your doctor may see fit.
Medical issues related to cocaine withdrawal may include cardiac problems such as heart attacks and arrhythmias, both of which require medical treatment. People who stop using cocaine may also experience seizures. A seizure can be fatal if you are away from a medical facility.
Polysubstance use, defined as using more than one substance at a time, is common among cocaine users. If this sounds like your case, your withdrawal management may be a little more complicated, providing more reasons why you should recover in the safe hands of medical personnel.
Furthermore, the concern of co-occurring disorders is widespread among drug addicts. In fact, over 7.7 million adults in the United States have both mental illnesses and substance use disorders (SUD). The best way to manage such conditions is medical detox followed by behavioral change therapy (BCT) in a medically supervised environment.
Whatever the nature of your addiction, you will need medical cocaine detox to restore your normal body functions. When detox takes place in a medical facility, doctors will closely monitor your treatment to keep you as comfortable and safe as possible throughout your withdrawal process.
Cocaine withdrawal is unpleasant. Fortunately, you will not have to face it alone. You will have passionate healthcare workers with you and other recovering addicts with whom you can share your common experiences and help one another maintain sobriety.
Medications Used to Treat Cocaine Detoxification Symptoms
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any drug to treat or manage cocaine withdrawal and addiction. However, scientists are in the process of evaluating medications with the potential to help reduce the use of cocaine and treat its withdrawal symptoms.
Currently, most doctors use antidepressants and other medicines to relieve or manage stimulant withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and depression. The most common medications used by doctors include:
- Baclofen – This drug can relax muscles by reducing the levels of dopamine released in the body. For this reason, it is excellent for reducing cocaine cravings.
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) – When you are struggling with anxiety or depression, SSRIs can help by increasing serotonin levels in your body to stabilize your mood.
- Modafinil – This drug is known to boost glutamate-neurotransmission, which helps to reduce or prevent euphoria caused by cocaine.
- Disulfiram – This drug is typically used to treat alcohol dependence by causing a distressing reaction whenever a person drinks alcohol. Disulfiram stops euphoria, making it good for cocaine addicts experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
- Sleep medications – Getting a good night’s rest is part of cocaine detox. So, if your addiction has caused sleep problems like insomnia or nightmares, you can benefit from sleep medications. These medications will help reduce the intensity of sleep problems. Make sure a doctor prescribes the drugs.
What to Expect During Cocaine Medical Detox
You will probably arrive at the detox center when you are “high” or while crashing. But you need not worry. You will be warmly welcomed by the facility staff, who will support and guide you until you recover.
Once you start feeling better, a counselor will speak to you for a comprehensive psychiatric and medical assessment. Your counselor will discuss substance use, medical history, and other issues like if you have any underlying medical conditions.
The information you provide will help the medical staff design a personalized treatment program for you. Remember that your answers will determine your course of treatment, so it is essential to be honest when responding to your counselor’s questions.
During your treatment, the medical staff will teach you coping skills to help manage your withdrawal symptoms. Most of the teaching will focus on the following:
- How to regain your self-esteem
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Emotional regulation
- coping skills
- Stress management
- Relapse prevention
The doctors and other healthcare workers will determine how long your detox will take, but it will be approximately two to 10 days. Medical staff will monitor your mental and physical health to determine when to discharge you from treatment. Remember that detox is just the first step of your treatment. You will need long-term support after detox to ensure you stay sober and drug-free.
Supervised cocaine treatment can occur in a residential (inpatient) or outpatient setting. If your addiction is not severe, your medical team may give you the option to stay in your home and attend treatment sessions at the facility for a given number of hours per day for a given number of days in a week.
However, cocaine addiction may have severely impacted you physically and psychologically. In this case, your medical team will recommend residential treatment, where you will reside in the rehab center. In a facility, you will be under the watch of medical personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is for your good, and you must cooperate with the facility staff.
It is natural to feel unwell and tired during detox, rehab, and early recovery, but don’t hesitate to call a doctor if you notice anything out of the ordinary. The medical staff will be within reach to check your vitals and closely monitor your recovery process. If you have any underlying medical conditions, the medical team will also take care of them. When you complete your residential treatment, you may opt to continue with outpatient care.
Next Steps After Medical Cocaine Detox?
After detox, your treatment facility will help you with your long-term recovery and relapse prevention. This is accomplished through a variety of therapies, including:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – This type of therapy aims to help you understand the connection between your behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. It will teach you how to replace negative thoughts with positive ones and provide you with coping skills to prevent relapse. It will also help you develop strategies to avoid situations that previously contributed to cocaine use.
- Contingency management (CM) – This therapy is also referred to as motivational incentives. It is a therapy that provides you with rewards for maintaining sobriety and attending treatment sessions.
- Motivational interviewing (MI) – This therapy focuses on identifying and resolving your contradictory ideas or mixed feelings. It will help you get motivated to change your behavior for the better.
Aside from the therapies mentioned above, you will be encouraged to join support groups such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA) to help you maintain your sobriety.
We Can Help
If you are looking for a cocaine detox and treatment facility, you don’t need to look further than White Light Behavioral Health in Columbus, OH. We have modern facilities and equipment and passionate and understanding medical personnel. Contact us today to learn more about how our team will help you develop the skills to navigate your road to recovery.