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Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine addiction is a real problem and can cause a lot of suffering and pain for the person struggling with addiction and their loved ones. Cocaine users face a myriad of problems, including financial difficulties, emotional or relationship issues, and health problems. It is nearly impossible for those struggling with a cocaine addiction to cease using the drug on their own. They usually have to undergo a comprehensive cocaine detox regimen.

WHAT ARE COCAINE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS?

When someone wants to stop using cocaine, they will first have to contend with detoxing from the drug. Detoxing is the process of ridding the body of the toxins associated with cocaine by not using it anymore. It is a painful process, especially when an individual tries to detox on their own. Below are some of the withdrawal symptoms for cocaine:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Racing heart
  • Social isolation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of libido
  • Nightmares
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Reduced physical activity

WHAT ARE THE STAGES IN THE COCAINE WITHDRAWAL TIMELINE?

If you are wanting to get off cocaine for good, you probably want to know how long withdrawal symptoms will last. A week? A month? The truth is that cocaine withdrawal happens in various stages.  Keep in mind that each person is different, and the timeline for withdrawal can vary from person to person. There are also factors that can influence the timeline, such as how long someone’s been abusing the drug, the amount they’ve been using, the frequency, and whether or not other drugs are being abused.

THE CRASH STAGE

As soon as the cocaine leaves the body, “the crash” will occur. This can be as soon as one to one and a half hours after the last time cocaine was used. Expect to feel very tired, depressed, and somewhat uncomfortable. Chances are if you have tried getting off cocaine before, you have experienced “the crash,” and it may have caused you to use again to feel better.

THE ACUTE STAGE: WEEK 1

The first week may be the toughest, with acute withdrawal symptoms at their peak.  Symptoms may include intense cravings, body aches, insomnia, excessive sweating, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and restlessness.

THE WITHDRAWAL STAGE: 2-4 WEEKS

In weeks two to four, many symptoms should begin letting up.  There will still be some occasional urges for the drug, and some days of fatigue, but symptoms will start to get better progressively. Physically, the body will be rid of the toxin associated with cocaine, though the body will still be repairing itself. You may feel great one day and then feel awful the next. Sleeping will be a struggle as well. The physical symptoms will let up more than the psychological ones, which means that depression and anxiety may linger on to the next phase.

THE EXTINCTION STAGE: 5 WEEKS ON

After about five weeks free from cocaine use, most symptoms should have subsided.  There may still be occasional triggers and cravings, but not nearly as strong as in the previous phases. Some people continue to experience a bit of anxiety or depression for a while. If symptoms worsen, individuals should find a medical professional to seek further treatment

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WHY SHOULD I DETOX?

Quitting cocaine cold turkey can be dangerous, as there is an increased risk of overdose. This can happen even if a user stops using the drug for a couple of days and then goes back to it.

Even those two days without the drug can decrease someone’s tolerance, so if that user uses the same amount as before, they run the risk of overdose. In fact, a Business Insider article from 2013, quotes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that around 5,000 died due to cocaine overdose in the U.S.

WHAT IS THE NEXT TREATMENT STEP?

When quitting cocaine long-term, it is necessary for someone to undergo a medically assisted detox in a treatment center or hospital.  Inpatient treatment centers allow individuals to stay at the center throughout the most intense withdrawal symptoms.  They are monitored 24/7 by substance abuse professionals and may be given medications to treat symptoms like anxiety, nausea, depression, and more. Qualified substance abuse professionals will monitor and assist you through the entire detox process, so you can rest assured that you are being taken care of well.

In addition, a relapse prevention plan will be created to help the recovering person learn how to cope with triggers and avoid situations that would lead them to use cocaine again. You can increase the chance of staying on the recovery path when you learn how to prevent relapses.

START YOUR JOURNEY TO RECOVERY TODAY

Cocaine can be quite addictive physically and psychologically, but there is treatment available in order to get past the withdrawal symptoms and remain drug-free. Some users will shy away from treatment because they are afraid of having to go through withdrawal. However, continued cocaine use is dangerous and can result in far worse results than going through temporary withdrawal symptoms.

A medically assisted detox and continued treatment in an inpatient or outpatient rehab is your best bet for getting and staying off cocaine. It will certainly make the withdrawal symptoms less daunting. You will also be able to contend with any other issues that may be going on, such as anxiety, depression, or mental illness.

Sources

U.S. National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus. (2019, January 12) Cocaine withdrawal. Borke, J. MD, FACEP, FAAEM et al Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm

Web MD. What are the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal? Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/qa/what-are-the-symptoms-of-cocaine-withdrawal

Business Insider. (2015, July 9) One type of legal drug is killing far more people than heroin — and that’s not the most disturbing part of the problem. Brodwin, E., Gould, S. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/heroin-vs-opioid-overdose-statistics-2015-7

Medline Plus. (2019, January 12) Cocaine withdrawal. Borke, J. MD, FACEP, FAAEM. et al. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm

Verywell Mind. (2020, March 20) How Long Does Withdrawal From Cocaine Last?. Hartney, E. BSc., MSc., MA, PhD Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-cocaine-withdrawal-21990

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