You or a loved one may be wondering what to expect as you consider abstaining from cocaine abuse. Will a detox process be difficult, and how long does it take to detox from cocaine?
The severity of a cocaine detox is affected by many factors, but with the help of addiction treatment services, a person can become sober in a safe and supervised environment.
What Is Cocaine?
Cocaine is a stimulant drug that is highly addictive and carries a high risk for misuse. It is powerful and fast-acting but can remain in a person’s body long after the substance has been taken.
Cocaine comes from the leaves of the coca plant, native to South America. It comes in chemical powdered form or is processed to make a crystal rock. Crack cocaine, often referred to as just ‘crack’ is solid and usually smokable, while the powder form is usually referred to as ‘coke’ and is snorted. The powder can also be dissolved and injected.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ( SAMHSA ), 5.2 million Americans used cocaine in 2020.
While any person may become addicted to cocaine, some factors increase a person’s risk of developing an addiction. Being exposed to drugs or engaging in substance use at a young age increases someone’s risk of developing addictions later in life. The social environment of a person also plays a role. If family members or friends abuse drugs, a person is more likely to do the same.
Easy access to drugs, a history of emotional or physical abuse, poverty, or a lack of parental supervision could also contribute to developing addictions. The nature of cocaine also makes it addictive. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a cocaine high appears immediately and disappears within a few minutes to an hour. This often leads people to take more of the drug to maintain or achieve the same high.
The repeated use of cocaine means that neurotransmitters are manipulated and stimulated, making a person want more of the substance at more frequent intervals. This can easily lead to a debilitating addiction.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
A person who suffers from cocaine addiction may experience physical and behavioral symptoms. These include:
- Mood swings
- Dilated pupils
- Overconfidence or excitement
- Frequently having a bloody nose
- Long periods of insomnia
- Spending a lot of money on buying cocaine
- Avoiding responsibilities because of cocaine use
Cocaine Detox Process
Cocaine is one of the most highly addictive substances, and it is also fast-acting, so addiction can be difficult to treat without help. The physical and mental health side effects of cocaine often require a medical detox.
Cocaine detox is the first necessary step to recovery and is needed before starting other treatments necessary to overcome cocaine addiction. A detox program allows the body to rid itself of a substance and all its toxins, so that a person may have a clear mind and stable physical health to start other therapies. As the body will have to adjust to the absence of cocaine, it will present with withdrawal symptoms.
Physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal can range from mild to severe and are based on the amount of cocaine used as well as how long it was abused. Drug addiction over prolonged periods may make detox more intense and last longer. Some of the most common symptoms are powerful feelings of depression, which makes the recovery process hard without supervision and support.
Attempting an at Home Detox
Detoxing from cocaine at home poses physical risks, and can be very dangerous without cocaine detox professionals.
Treatment facilities reduce risks and give a person a drug-free environment in which to detox, which could be crucial in preventing relapse. Especially if cocaine use has been heavy, symptoms of cocaine withdrawal could be painful and sometimes life-threatening. Depression and suicidal thoughts pose a high risk for those attempting to quit on their own. Additionally, a person may be detoxing from multiple substance disorders, placing them at an increased risk of suffering complications.
Medical professionals who are at hand in a detox program can provide relief from symptoms as soon as they appear.
Seeking professional treatment gives a person a higher chance to maintain a successful recovery. This is because medical detox, rehab, and aftercare programs address emotional, physical, and behavioral elements related to cocaine addiction. Neglecting any of these could easily result in a relapse while exposing someone to life-threatening symptoms.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
As with any substance abuse, stopping the use of the drug means undergoing physical side effects. In the case of cocaine withdrawal symptoms, there is also a varied and intense emotional component. Acute withdrawal can include the following psychological symptoms:
- Intense cravings for cocaine
- Nightmares or vivid dreams
- Cognitive impairment
- Severe clinical depression, suicidal thoughts
- Sleep disturbances
- Erratic mood swings
At the same time, a person may experience muscle aches, fatigue, exhaustion, chills, or tremors.
Cocaine Detox at a Treatment Center
One of the effects of cocaine is a depressed appetite. During detox, a person may experience a sharply increased appetite and will require nutrients and vitamins that have been lacking. Receiving a healthy diet and supplementing any lacking nutrients is one of the advantages of undergoing detox as part of residential treatment.
A medical detox means that a person will be carefully supervised throughout the withdrawal process. As other symptoms can vary in intensity, medical detox can help as health care providers can help with medications.
Cocaine detox sometimes comes with trouble sleeping, on top of chronic fatigue. As a person’s body needs to recover, this can make your recovery much harder, and it is important to avoid using any other addictive substances to help with sleep during detox. Treatment professionals and a medical detox center can use non-addictive sleep aids that could help with sleep disturbances, for example. They could also use medications to help stabilize a person’s mood and reduce depression.
The severity and length of a cocaine detox vary depending on a person’s age, history of cocaine use, method of using, and whether they took other substances at the same time.
It can take anywhere between five to seven days for some to detox, while for others it could take up to three weeks. Usually, the detox process begins eight to twelve hours after the last dose of cocaine, but withdrawal symptoms can occur as soon as ninety minutes after the last use.
Initially, a person may feel fatigued, start sweating and become agitated. Towards the end of the first day, a person may start experiencing nausea, difficulty in concentration, some loss of motor control, and sleep deprivation.
Around the end of the third day, cocaine withdrawal symptoms may become worse, and someone could start experiencing issues with blood pressure and difficulty breathing. Over the next few days, they may also suffer hallucinations, convulsions, or tremors. This stage is a critical point in the detox process, as the physical and mental harm risk increases dramatically.
Around one week after the last dose, a person may still experience strong drug cravings, have depression and suffer from mood swings. Strong cravings could be present even 2-4 weeks after the last dose, and irritability as well as extremely vivid dreams may be present.
5-10 weeks after someone’s last dose, they may experience a lessened craving for the drug and most physical symptoms may subside. Anxiety and depression may continue though and could persist for weeks after cocaine detox is completed.
Cocaine Addiction Treatment
Usually, a person undergoes an initial assessment before they start treatment. During this time, treatment options are discussed and a treatment program is designed according to the needs of the person. After the drug has been removed from the body, the recovery process can continue. The next step is a structured addiction treatment program.
Many treatment facilities offer an outpatient or inpatient treatment program, and which one to enter is usually determined by the severity and history of the drug addiction. Substance abuse and addiction are often complex conditions, with many different contributing factors, and so treatment programs provide people with time and space in a sober environment and one that is different from their normal life.
Addiction treatment options and this sober space give a person the chance to identify and address the reasons for their drug abuse. It also allows them to reflect on how their cocaine abuse has impacted them and their loved ones.
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches a person to recognize possible triggers for drug use, as well as the skills to respond to these triggers healthily instead of with drug use. As substance abuse and mental illness often go hand in hand, any underlying mental health issues are addressed during treatment.
During early recovery, relapse prevention is one of the top priorities, as people are most vulnerable. Along with individual therapy, providers usually advise group therapy or support groups. This provides a peer support group where other members share their experiences and struggles in battling addiction.
Family members are often included in family therapy, once again to create a stable pillar of support. These therapies greatly help prevent relapse after rehab, while also supporting someone during recovery.
Where Can I Find a Treatment Center?
Seeking treatment is the first brave step toward recovery.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorders or cocaine addiction, Brookdale is here to help. Our experienced and caring staff can assist you as you undergo a cocaine detox, but can also provide you with an individualized treatment program that ensures long-term recovery.
Our medically managed detox program includes 24-hour supervision, while our staff helps support you as you transition on to the next stages of your recovery.
Brookdale can give you a chance for leading a happy, healthy life, starting today. Get in contact today to find out more about how we can help you overcome cocaine addiction.