A Guide to Cocaine Detox & Withdrawal
To seek treatment or to help someone with a cocaine addiction requires an understanding of what a cocaine dependence is. In the following guide, we reveal the steps to cocaine detox and withdrawal, how to cope in recovery, and the types of services and support needed to overcome cocaine dependence.
What is a Cocaine Detox?
Cocaine detox is the process of stopping the use of cocaine and allowing the body to return to a normal state of functioning. This can be achieved either at home or via a clinical, inpatient setting.
Cocaine is a stimulant and when undergoing detox, psychological changes may manifest, such as depression. The process of detox for cocaine addiction is best completed in an inpatient programme or clinical environment. Here, individuals will have the support of medical staff to ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Furthermore, where addiction has been identified, assisted therapy within a clinical setting will follow to help the individual deal with the root cause of addiction behaviour.
What is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Cocaine withdrawal is therefore the result of a cocaine detox, whereby the body returns to a normal state of functioning without cocaine. A cocaine withdrawal can last up to 10 days (American Addiction Centers). During the withdrawal process, individuals experience psychological symptoms as the stimulant leaves the body. Cocaine increases levels of dopamine (a feel-good hormone in the brain). With regular use, the brain no longer produces dopamine naturally. When the drug is not ingested, it increases feelings of depression and anxiety. Individuals have to use more cocaine to maintain ‘functional’ levels.
During a cocaine withdrawal many individuals are at a higher risk of severe depression, anxiety, and suicide. This results from the absence of the drug and disruptions in chemical balance in the brain. Owing to the intensity of psychological symptoms, an inpatient detox with medical support is recommended.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can appear 7 to 10 days after the substance is last used. It is a fast acting stimulant with a short lifespan. People who have been using large doses for a long period can experience a withdrawal only 90 minutes after the last dose..
Factors that influence the cocaine withdrawal process include:
- The period of addiction. The longer cocaine is used, the more difficult the withdrawal
- The amount of cocaine used. Large doses increase the longevity of a withdrawal. For those who have been frequently using large amounts of cocaine, withdrawal symptoms can last weeks because of an accumulation of the drug in the system
- Pre-existing mental health conditions. Medical conditions such as hypertension or mental health disorders including depression can complicate the process of withdrawal
- A cocaine withdrawal is also affected by the presence of other substances, such as alcohol or prescription medication.
How Long Does Cocaine Stay in Your System?
Healthline states that cocaine can remain in your system between 1 and 4 days. For those who have been using large doses for some time, the substance can be detected weeks after it is used.
The period after which cocaine can be detected in a drug test is determined by physiological and dependency factors (how long you have been using cocaine and in what quantity).
How to undergo a Cocaine Detox
A detox from cocaine is the first step towards overcoming an addiction. It involves the cessation of drug use until it is no longer present in the body. Detoxing from cocaine is best performed in a medical setting. If you are considering a home detox, a medical professional should always be sought. We look at the options for a cocaine detox.
Home Cocaine Detox
A cocaine detox from home is not recommended for those who have been using the substance for a significant period and in large amounts. If you wish to pursue a detox at home, it is important to seek the advice and support of a GP. This is necessary if you have been ingesting prescription medication in combination with cocaine use.
For your health, safety, and comfort we encourage you to speak to your medical doctor. You can also give us a call to assist with trusted support services.
The Pros and Cons of Detoxing from Cocaine at Home
The decision to detox from cocaine at home requires the supervision of a medical doctor who can intervene should complications arise. American Addiction Centers details the following pros and cons of a cocaine detox at home.
- Affordable compared to private inpatient treatment
- Comfort of a familiar environment
- Support from loved ones.
- Lack of medical supervision should difficult or life threatening situations arise
- Absence of medical support and methods to ease the process of detox and withdrawal symptoms
- Relatives and friends are not specialised in managing detox and withdrawal
- Higher rate of relapse.
Medically Assisted Cocaine Detox
A medically assisted cocaine detox is performed in a private rehabilitation setting. This can include a clinical setting or a residential rehab. Each facility will provide round the clock monitoring and professional support to improve the chances of a successful detox.
The Benefits of a Medically Assisted Cocaine Detox
The benefits of a medically supervised detox fat outweigh the cons. In a rehab you will have access to specialised medical staff for support. Depending on the nature of your symptoms, prescription medication may be provided to alleviate severe discomfort. Every patient receives a full assessment to benefit from a detox program that is tailored to their unique needs.
A detox in a private setting can be expensive. Many are also apprehensive about entering into a clinical or rehab facility. Fortunately, medical centres and rehab facilities provide fast access to treatment that is followed by therapy for the presence of an addiction.
Coping with Cocaine Withdrawal
The process of cocaine withdrawal places individuals at a higher risk of relapse. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to improve the chances of success. This includes lifestyle changes and a greater awareness of social or personal activities that would otherwise compromise your ability to cope and stick to a sober path.
Take Time Off Work
As cocaine withdrawal involves physiological and intense psychological symptoms, taking some time off work to facilitate the process is recommended. Mood swings, feelings of irritability, fatigue, and slowed thinking will affect your professional capabilities. Booking a holiday is recommended to maintain your confidentiality during recovery.
Remove Cocaine Paraphernalia
Any triggers in your living environment should be removed. This includes cocaine paraphernalia such as rolled up notes and old “packets.” It will reduce the need to use and possible relapse.
Stay Away from Weekend Benders
Steer clear of social hangouts, clubs, or parties where there is temptation. Many of these social spots make it easier to access the drug. By removing yourself from these environments, you can prevent placing yourself in a difficult situation.
One of the best ways to minimize temptation and cope with withdrawal is by discovering new hobbies and immersing yourself in pleasurable, constructive activities. Consider the things you love and make it part of a daily hobby. Keeping busy reduces fixating on the drug.
Eat Healthy & Exercise
Prepare healthy meals and get in some exercise. You will notice that an improvement in diet and getting active will make you feel stronger and balanced, but it also influences your self esteem and creates a positive outlook on life.
Talk to Friends & Family
Support is one of the greatest resources for overcoming addiction. Speak to your loved ones about your goals and create awareness through education. Help them realise the importance of their commitment to your journey.
Remind Yourself Daily the Reasons You’re Quitting
Keep a diary, a poster or even stick-it notes with messages of motivation. Remind yourself of the reasons you are quitting cocaine and keep your mind focused on the goal you wish to achieve.
An important part of a successful recovery is sleep. Where cocaine use is severe, Science Daily claims that frequent use of cocaine causes structural changes in the brain. This includes changes in circadian rhythms and the way our biology functions.
An investigation into the Neurobiology of an addiction to cocaine reveals how the reward system within the brain is disrupted which has a direct effect on the ability to sleep.
Preventing a Relapse
The use of cocaine over an extended period of time can lead to a drug tolerance. Tolerance occurs when larger amounts or doses of a substance needs to be ingested to achieve the same effect. When cocaine no longer produces a pleasurable or intoxicating experience, users tend to increase doses which constantly builds a cycle of tolerance and risk of cocaine dependency.
By understanding the risks and the ways a cocaine addiction can develop, it can assist in preventing the occurrence of a relapse. A closer look at treatment options for cocaine dependency can encourage healthier, safer results.
Treating the Underlying Causes of Cocaine Dependency
Therapy sought for both an addiction and mental health problems help individuals steer away from the possibility of a relapse. By consulting with a professional therapist, an individualised recovery plan is created with the goal of treating the underlying causes of a cocaine dependency.
A residential rehab programme is a private or inpatient service. Individuals remain at the residence for the duration of treatment without access to the outside world. Delivered in a supportive environment, private rehab aims to identify the underlying triggers or psychological reasons for maintaining an addiction. Many addictions have an underlying psychological cause.
Individuals will meet with a therapist on a daily or weekly basis while in treatment. During these sessions, the practitioner will explore the nature of the addiction and whether pre-existing mental health conditions, hereditary factors, or trauma is contributing to the dependence.
A holistic treatment plan is also most beneficial in therapy. The individual is considered as a whole and health-oriented activities incorporated in the programme. This includes balanced diets, exercise including yoga, medication, and individualized healthcare that aims to restore the physical, mental, and spiritual connection.
Outpatient services & support groups
An outpatient service is another treatment option for those struggling with a cocaine addiction. Outpatient programmes require visiting the facility on a scheduled basis without staying at the centre or offices.
There are many outpatient programmes available including those provided by the NHS and other charities. These services focus in making therapy accessible for those battling cocaine dependence and mental health problems.
A major impediment in the rehab system is the ability to get patients with a cocaine dependency referred to an outpatient service with referral from a medical doctor. The Psychiatric Times notes that patient non-compliance, poor clinical triage, and a lack of resources compromise the ability to seek adequate rehabilitation programming. It suggests that proper screening measures can assist doctors in an efficient referral and provide patients faster access to outpatient services.
A strategy that has continued to provide individuals with a cocaine addiction much needed assistance and awareness, is that of a support group. Narcotics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous are examples of support groups that help others overcome the grip of addiction. Individuals share stories in group activities, the meetings are held confidentially, and respectfully by a certified therapist. Individuals also have the option of meeting sponsors who are individuals they can call and rely on when temptation occurs.
The SMART recovery process is frequently adopted in cocaine addiction treatment. This is a 4-step programme. SMART stands for Self Management and Recovery Training. It differs from a 12 step programme in that individuals can access online meetings, supportive chat rooms, and workshops focused on building self empowerment and self-reliance.