Cocaine Detox & Withdrawal
A cocaine detox can be quite difficult because of the psychological dependency to the drug. Cocaine addicts feel as though cocaine has become a vital part of their wellbeing. Because cocaine impairs the brain’s impulse control, people often feel as though they have no control over their decisions and end up doing things based on urges or impulses, which ends up aggravating cocaine addiction and use. It also makes detox challenging without medical and professional help.
The psychological dependence on cocaine can be much more intense than the physical addiction, and tends to last much longer. Some of the psychological symptoms of cocaine addiction include cravings, feeling as though cocaine is vital for daily life or particular tasks, obsessive thoughts about the drug, aggressiveness or irritability that occurs when the drug is absent.
The addict must undergo a complete detox to start to overcome cocaine addiction. Detoxification refers to the complete cessation of cocaine use and is a vital step to overcoming cocaine addiction. Detoxing from cocaine is the initial step in a comprehensive rehabilitation programme, and primarily focuses on the immediate health issues that accompany physical dependence to cocaine.
Even though recovering addicts attend individual therapy, group therapy sessions and a variety of other treatments during the detox process, the goal of the initial detox is to help the addict stabilise physically and recover their clarity and energy in order to be ready for the work that is required for treating the addiction.
Cocaine treatment programme typically begins with a detoxification process that offers round-the-clock monitoring and medical supervision to guarantee the person’s safety. During the detox, the drug’s harmful toxins will start to slowly be removed from the user’s body. Once the toxins are eliminated from the body, the user has a much better chance of avoiding a relapse. The exact duration of cocaine detox varies from person to person and depends on the amount and length of time that the user consumed cocaine.
Despite the lack of standard medication to treat cocaine addiction and dependency, medical detox programmes may incorporate pharmaceuticals in order to manage particular symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be used to help with depression, whilst beta-blockers such as propranolol can help reduce anxiety and restlessness. According to a study in Psychiatry journal, beta-blockers also reduce drug cravings and assist with sobriety in the early stages.
Researches regarding medications that can help prevent relapse are still ongoing. A few GABAergic pharmaceuticals, such as baclofen, tiagabine and topiramate can help reduce cocaine cravings and help block the effects of the drug if it reintroduced into the system.
Cocaine can also be abused with a variety of other drugs, which complicates the detox process since other drugs can have varying withdrawal side effects that require other medications or treatments to help with the symptoms.
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Preparing for Cocaine Detoxification
Anyone entering a cocaine rehab programme should undergo a detailed drug screening and evaluation prior to starting the detox. The initial evaluation that takes place with a cocaine detox programme entails a comprehensive physical and psychological evaluation by medical professionals. The patient is asked to share their psychiatric and personal medical history, along with their drug use history to make sure that the right attention and care is given.
The history of cocaine use and a physical examination are typically enough to diagnose the condition, however some routine testing might also include liver function and blood chemistries tests, cardiac enzymes, complete blood count, chest x-ray, electrocardiogram, toxicology screen and a urinalysis.
Once the physical examination and consultation have taken place, the patient takes part in the assessment. Along with the addiction therapist team, the patient can start to come up with a treatment plan to start addressing immediate issues. Occasionally, a co-occurring medical or psychological disorder may be evident, but undiagnosed. In these cases, the patient may have to undergo more testing to find out if a co-occurring disorder is present and needs treatment.
Any underlying physical or medical issues that need medical attention will be addressed upon arrival and medication may be provided. Consulting physicians will provide any necessary medical care throughout the process, though care is particularly intensive when it comes to check-ins and monitoring during the first stages of treatment, once the patient stops using cocaine and other drugs.
After the drugs are completely removed from the bloodstream, and initial stabilisation has been reached, rehab programmes can then start focusing on the root or underlying cause of cocaine addiction and abuse to stop relapsing from occurring.
Cocaine Detoxification Timeline
The duration and length of cocaine detox depends on the many variables, but acute cocaine withdrawal is typically between one to three weeks. Cocaine stays in the body for up to three days after use and can be found in urine during those few days. Habitual cocaine users can have cocaine in their urine for up to 12 weeks.
Alternating high and low drug cravings, which typically start to reduce after three or four days. Some people find that they need to sleep more during this time, and possibly consume more water and nutrition.
After 7 days
The patient starts to feel significantly better. However, cycles of mood disorders, depressive symptoms and insomnia can occur during this time. Though cravings may start to lessen, they can also intensify at any time. Symptoms such as nightmares, agitation and better appetite are common following the first week.
After 14 days
Cocaine cravings often reappear along with symptoms of depression, anger and hunger. The patient may start to have vivid dreams and contemplate cocaine use.
After 30 days
Strange mood changes. Depression and sleep can still be an issue, though a healthy diet and exercise can help with these symptoms. Many recovering addicts find it difficult to handle stress, so it is common for relapse to occur around this time.
Despite the initial week it takes to detox from the drug, former cocaine users find it incredibly difficult to break the cycle of binging and crashing. The severe cravings that occur start to lessen after about three or four days, so getting past that time period means that the patient has more likelihood of staying abstinent.
Many cocaine users might try to stop using cocaine on their own, but end up relapsing once they experience the agonising symptoms of withdrawal. During the detox process, users experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms that largely depend on the severity of the addiction. Cocaine addiction is more of a psychological addiction than a physical addiction, but there are a number of physical withdrawal symptoms that affect cocaine users, such as:
- Increase in appetite
- General discomfort
These symptoms only add to the struggle of overcoming cocaine addiction, and addicts often feel that managing the cravings are the hardest part of rehab.
The desired results of a cocaine detox programme first involve physical changes. The reduction of withdrawal symptoms will take place during the short initial phase of treatment and allows the addict to focus on other issues, such as psychological dependency and cravings.
Users who have chronic health issues such as high blood pressure, sinus issues and heart murmur may not be able to make a complete recovery during the detox, though it is possible to slow down the illness’ progression and get a hold of what is occurring through comprehensive treatment plans and medical examinations.
Co-occurring disorders can cause even worse symptoms. The thing about cocaine detox that makes it unique from other types of detox programmes is that it helps the patient on a personal level in order to address the symptoms that they experience, along with co-occurring issues. The goal is to come to a stable place where cocaine addiction treatment can start to address the psychological dependency issues.
The potential for irregular heartbeat, vomiting, muscle twitches, seizures, sweating, and overdose are associated with withdrawal symptoms as well.
While counselling is the most effective treatment for cocaine addiction, no type of psychotherapeutic treatment will be effective until the detoxification process is complete. The risk of relapse is too severe to avoid detox, which stabilises the mind, body and spirit. Even though the physical addiction to the drug is less strong than with other drugs, and the withdrawal symptoms can be significantly shorter and less intense, cocaine detox is just as important.
Due to the high likelihood of relapse, cocaine detox should take place under medical supervision. Undergoing a professional detox treatment can help make the experience that much more tolerable and safe, and is one of the most important steps towards making a complete recovery. Contact us to find out more about detox treatment options today.