Continuous cocaine use has dangerous effects that can cause a lot of harm to the user, especially when they try to stop using it. This can even discourage users from quitting the drug since it typically brings on a withdrawal syndrome, which comes with unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms can make it difficult for the user to quit using cocaine and make the recovery process more challenging.
Luckily, specialized treatment programs are designed to ease the discomfort associated with cocaine detox and manage withdrawal symptoms. This makes it easier for recovering users to continue their journey to sobriety.
What is Cocaine Withdrawal?
Generally, withdrawal is a health condition that occurs when someone who has become dependent on an addictive substance reduces or stops using it. One can develop a physical dependence on cocaine when the body gets used to having the drug and starts adjusting to it. During this adaptation process, the person’s brain starts needing cocaine to function correctly and feel well.
Thus, when the user does not have the drug in their system at an expected level, they will develop withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine is a highly addictive drug, but there is a difference between dependence and addiction.
When you are addicted to cocaine, you become unable to stop using it even when the drug is causing you health problems or distress. Dependence happens when the body physiologically adapts to the drug to function normally. Once you become dependent on a drug, this tells you that you’re about to develop physical withdrawal symptoms and should stop using the drug.
Cocaine detox does not have similar risks as the acute withdrawal from other addictive substances such as benzodiazepines or alcohol, which can have life-threatening complications. Withdrawal caused by a stimulant drug like cocaine is typically not lethal. On the other hand, some risks may arise during a cocaine detox, such as:
Physical Health Problems
Someone who has been concurrently abusing alcohol and cocaine risks experiencing cardiac problems during the withdrawal stage. Such an individual might also increase their likelihood of developing a heart attack (infarction) or an arrhythmia. Another expected risk for cocaine users during cocaine detox is the occurrence of seizures.
Mental Health Problems
Cocaine withdrawal can bring about depression in some recovering users. Symptoms of this condition can include low motivation, low energy, and low mood. Other people may experience suicidal intentions and thoughts during cocaine detox.
For this reason, people withdrawing from cocaine should be kept under close observation to ensure their safety during cocaine detox. Up to 50% of cocaine users also have depression as a co-occurring condition, complicating their withdrawal. These suicidal intentions or thoughts are typically more common in people using several addictive substances at once.
People abusing stimulant drugs usually also express violence, paranoia, and aggression as they reduce their use and start experiencing withdrawal. Such situations may be dangerous for the individuals who are going through withdrawal during cocaine detox and those around them. Fortunately, certified treatment and detox centers can provide a safe and comfortable environment during the withdrawal process.
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal
Cocaine users typically follow a binge and crash pattern, meaning even those who might not have decided to quit can still experience withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal usually has 3 phases:
This first stage happens 24 hours after a continuous period of high-intensity use or a binge. Expected symptoms during a cocaine crash include:
- Extreme depression
- Increased hunger
- A lack of motivation and energy
This is the second stage of cocaine withdrawal that starts within the first week after one’s last dose. It can proceed for up to 10 weeks. Common symptoms of this phase include:
- Dysphoria – generally feeling unsatisfied with life
- Changing moods
- Low energy
- Trouble concentrating
As the final stage of cocaine withdrawal, extinction can go on for up to 6 months. During this time, the recovering user will experience diminishing withdrawal symptoms. The individual may still experience some cravings and a low mood at this stage.
Managing Cocaine Cravings to Ease Withdrawal Discomfort
Cravings make up a significant part of cocaine detox, making the process uneasy for the recovering user. You can avoid succumbing to cocaine cravings by doing the following:
- Concentrating on healthy habits and relying on your support system when you experience intense cravings.
- Altering your routines, actions, and perspectives to cut off all your associations with past drug use.
- Not self-medicating with other drugs or substances
- Realizing that relapses are expected during the early stages of recovery.
Can You Use Medications to Ease Cocaine Detox Symptoms?
Currently, no medications are specifically designed to reduce cocaine cravings or withdrawals. However, some drugs like Modafinil, a stimulant drug for narcolepsy, and antidepressants have been studied. They have proven to potentially ease the pain and discomfort associated with cocaine detox, but there are no drugs currently approved for use during cocaine detox.
However, some medications can help with specific cocaine withdrawal symptoms experienced by recovering users. An example includes sleep aids like Trazodone and Benadryl to help people suffering from insomnia during cocaine detox.
Someone dealing with cocaine withdrawal might feel worthless because they are not experiencing the drug’s effects. This is why early intervention is essential to help such an individual to get through the symptoms.
Cocaine detox will involve managing the residual intoxicating effects and any withdrawal symptoms experienced in someone who has quit the drug. A detox program is well-equipped to assess and balance symptoms while preparing the individual for abstinence before they proceed to addiction treatment. Hence, detox is just the first step of cocaine addiction treatment, and with the right team on your side, you can get all the help you need to manage the uncomfortable symptoms.