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cocaine abuse facts

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Cocaine is a highly addictive and powerful stimulant drug. Although it is popular in social scenes, night clubs, and more, long-term cocaine abuse can lead to the development of physical and mental dependence. Once a user is dependent on cocaine, he or she will experience withdrawal symptoms if attempting to quit using the drug cold-turkey. Rather than stopping cold-turkey and struggling with cocaine withdrawals, the best way to recover from addiction is to seek professional help. Here’s everything you need to know about cocaine detox.

Cocaine Abuse and Addiction

When people use cocaine it boosts the levels of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that is naturally occurring in the body. However, long-term cocaine abuse impacts the reuptake and production of dopamine. In other words, people who use cocaine for a long time may be unable to feel pleasure without the drug because their brain struggles to produce dopamine normally.

This is also the process that causes cocaine withdrawal. Eventually, a user’s brain will require increasing amounts of cocaine to feel normal. If the user doesn’t ingest cocaine, they will go into withdrawal. This is unfortunate because many people become addicted to cocaine simply because they are avoiding getting sick from withdrawal.

symptoms of cocaine withdrawal

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Cocaine is a fast-acting drug, so the effects wear off quickly after each dose. As a result, many cocaine users engage in binging – the act of taking more and more of a drug over a short period of time to avoid going into withdrawal. When the high does wear off, addicted users may experience the following cocaine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Nightmares and sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Increased appetite

While cocaine withdrawal is generally not life-threatening, it’s always ideal to detox in a medical setting. Detoxing at home can leave people at risk for depression, suicidal thoughts, and other medical complications. Rather than detoxing alone, cocaine detox centers can provide medical and clinical support to patients who are ready to get sober.

cocaine withdrawal timeline

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Withdrawal symptoms may begin within just hours after a person stops using cocaine and can last for up to a month. However, the cocaine withdrawal timeline varies significantly from one person to the next depending on the speed of their metabolism, the amount of time they have been dependent on cocaine, and the potency of the drug. Here is a general timeline of what people can expect while detoxing from cocaine:

  • 1 – 12 hours: cocaine withdrawal symptoms typically begin fairly quickly. Users will feel anxious, irritable, fatigued, and hungry during this time, but cravings may not begin just yet.
  • Days 2 – 7: during the first week, withdrawal symptoms will be at their peak. Users may experience depression, strong cravings, mood swings, insomnia, nightmares, and more for several days.
  • Weeks 2 – 4: peak symptoms will begin to subside but users may still experience depression, drug cravings, mood swings, and difficulty concentrating 
  • After 1 month: most withdrawal symptoms should fade away after 3-4 weeks. After a month, some people will experience cravings and anxiety. Any lingering symptoms can be managed with a substance abuse treatment program.

Supervised medical detox centers are able to provide a safe and supportive environment necessary for a successful cocaine detox.

symptoms of cocaine detox

Abuse facts  |  Withdrawal symptoms  |  Withdrawal timeline  |  Back to top

Detoxing from cocaine doesn’t always have to be an inpatient process. People may choose an inpatient or outpatient detox program. Inpatient is best for people with severe addictions, co-occurring disorders, or those who are anticipating difficult or life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Other people with less severe addictions or health risks may be perfectly fine doing an outpatient detox.

While there are no medications that are approved to treat cocaine withdrawal, there are medications that can be given to help manage some of the symptoms. For example, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants are both common for patients who are detoxing from stimulants. In the event of a medical emergency, detox centers have doctors and nurses on-site who can provide emergent care.

Between having access to 24/7 support and counseling and having a team of medical professionals overseeing the process, medical detox is the safest way for people to quit cocaine.

The cocaine detox process is usually divided up into three phases:

  1. Assessment – When patients first arrive at detox they will undergo a comprehensive evaluation of their health, substance abuse, and medical history. This information is used to develop an individualized treatment plan for that patient.
  2. Stabilization – This is the phase of detox where the patient actually detoxes, allowing substances to leave their system, either naturally or medically-assisted.
  3. Aftercare planning – Detox only helps patients overcome withdrawal; treatment is where the recovery happens. Before being discharged, patients will meet with an addictions counselor to discuss their treatment options.

Find a Cocaine Detox Center Near You

Cocaine addiction is difficult to beat alone. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. At Detox Clinics, we’re dedicated to helping you find the right cocaine detox center to meet your needs. Whether you’ve never been to treatment before or you’re returning from a relapse, detox is the first step towards sobriety. Don’t wait any longer. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to cocaine, contact one of our dedicated treatment providers today.