Cocaine is involved in one in three drug misuse or abuse-related emergency department visits or nearly 40% of drug-related incidents (CBHSQ 2011, SAMHSA 2013). That data alone should be strong incentive for any user to consider detoxing from the drug. Your health and future far outweigh any temporary high cocaine can give.
Yet quitting cocaine is easier said than done most of the time. The drug is highly addictive, as evidenced by the withdrawal process: The symptoms can be so uncomfortable and difficult to manage that even someone with a rock-solid determination to get clean can end up relapsing against their best intentions.
Difficulties Quitting Cocaine On Your Own
Attempting to detox from cocaine at home on your own only raises these already high relapse risks. When your coke dealer is on hand and a phone call away, eager and ready to offer quick relief from the worst of your withdrawal symptoms, the chances of safely and successfully completing detox narrow dramatically. That’s because, in the words of a 2017 study in The Journal of Neuroscience, “acute exposure to the self-administered drug and drug-associated cues and contexts” and “the experience of withdrawal symptoms or exposure to withdrawal-associated cues as primary relapse triggers” are primary relapse triggers. (Stress is another, the same study reports.)
On the flip side, research has shown that the successful completion of drug detox and treatment can lower rates of relapse, giving you a leg-up in recovery. The longer you’re away from primary relapse triggers, meanwhile undergoing detox and inpatient therapies to address the roots of an addiction, the easier sobriety gets with time.
These realities should be at the forefront of any serious consideration about how to overcome a cocaine problem. They also help to explain why many people get cocaine detox and treatment in places like South Florida— especially Palm Beach County and Broward County, which have earned a trusted name in detox and treatment for addictions like cocaine. In addition to the healing properties of sea and sun, these places offer a safe, discreet setting far removed from old cocaine triggers, with easy access to the nation’s leading recovery hub.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms – What Are They?
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can make the process of quitting the drug difficult and prone to relapse. Many of these symptoms are more psychological than physical in nature— yet no less severe or potentially dangerous. They can include:
- Intense cravings for more of the drug
- Increased appetite
- Poor concentration
- Slowed cognitive abilities
- Sexual dysfunction and depleted sex drive
- Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure
- Vivid, unpleasant dreams or nightmares
- Extreme paranoia
- Depression or anxiety
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Physical symptoms can include motor impairment, fatigue and exhaustion, chills, tremors, muscle aches, and nerve pain.
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What Is Cocaine Detox in an Inpatient Setting? What to Look for
In the aftermath of a cocaine binge, and/or when a chronic user stops their use, intense cravings are the withdrawal symptom most associated with relapse. The fact that there is currently no medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for this symptom— (as there is for alcohol and opiates)—makes inpatient detox and treatment that much more critical to cocaine recovery.
Inpatient detox provides a safe, sober environment in which you can move through the stages of withdrawal with maximum physical and psychological comfort and support. Medical and clinical staff are on hand 24/7 to monitor your vital signs, administer medications where needed, and coach you through those awful cravings. Once you’re medically stabilized, you can begin to participate in intensive group and individual therapies that address the largely psychological dimensions of cocaine withdrawal and addiction.
While only a few rehab providers utilize cutting-edge neuro rehab services to restore brain health in the aftermath of cocaine and other addictions, some recovery centers make these services available during detox and treatment. (FHE Health is one of them.) Neuro imaging technologies can identify and non-invasively treat areas of cocaine-related dysfunction in the brain. In many cases, these evidence-based neuro rehab technologies can restore healthy brain function and may even boost your resilience to cravings in the longer run.
How Long Does Cocaine Withdrawal Last? A Timeline for Withdrawal
Cocaine withdrawal can begin as early as 90 minutes after last use, with acute withdrawal symptoms ensuing and persisting for roughly 7-10 days. This window of time during early recovery is when recovering cocaine users tend to feel the worst and need the highest level of comfort care and support.
Cocaine cravings can hang around longer, however— sometimes much longer. People who have been sober for years have reported experiencing the sudden onset of a craving, seemingly out of the blue.
The exact timeline for withdrawal symptoms and their level of intensity will depend on a number of factors:
- How long you’ve been using cocaine – If you’ve been a regular, long-term user, your brain will have changed to adjust to the drug. You also may have developed a much stronger psychological and behavioral attachment to cocaine. Withdrawal may therefore be longer and potentially more complicated than it would be for someone who has only used cocaine for a very short period of time. (This said, even one-time use can trigger addiction and warrant early intervention and treatment.)
- How much cocaine you’ve been using – Often people who have been using cocaine for a long time are also those most prone to using large amounts to achieve the same high. (Cocaine use can quickly lead to tolerance and a compulsive need to take more and more of the drug to produce the same effects.) In these cases, withdrawal symptoms may be more intense and/or prolonged.
- Polydrug abuse and/or co-occurring medical issues – If a patient has become dependent on one or more other drugs alongside cocaine, they may face a more complicated withdrawal process. Similarly, a mental health condition that co-occurs with cocaine abuse can give rise to prolonged and intensified withdrawal symptoms.
- An abundance of stressors – Stress often plays a prominent role in the development of drug addictions. If someone is dealing with multiple stressors as they undergo detox, these issues may lengthen and/or intensify their withdrawal symptoms.
Next Steps After Detox
Detox is a crucial step in recovery— and the first of more to come. A medically supervised detox from cocaine will physically clear the drug from your system and may even begin the initial dialogue about what factors caused your addiction. However, the real therapeutic work of addressing those causes is the next necessary step in recovery from cocaine addiction. For most people, this involves a minimum of 30 days in residential treatment. Some people choose longer programs of residential treatment, on the basis of research that shows rates of relapse decrease the longer you’re in an inpatient program.
That said, some people’s life circumstances, such as job or family obligations, preclude them from the option of inpatient treatment. In these cases, outpatient treatment is a viable option that has helped many people achieve recovery from cocaine addiction. Depending on the severity of the addiction, outpatient treatment may consist of one or more levels of care, whether a partial hospitalization program (PHP), intensive outpatient program (IOP) or an entirely outpatient program of therapy.
Following inpatient and/or outpatient care, many people choose to include various elements of aftercare in their program of long-term recovery, such as:
- A 12-step support group like Narcotics Anonymous (or a non-12-step support group like Smart Recovery)
- Individual therapy and/or family therapy sessions
- Participation in an active alumni program and its social and service offerings
- The help of a recovery coach
Any or all of these elements can help people stay sober over the longer term of recovery from cocaine addiction: they are, in essence, key components of a cocaine detox and treatment kit.
Finding Detox Help for You or a Loved One
Nobody should have to live with a cocaine problem when help is in sight and freedom from addiction is only a phone call away. Your health—your life—are far too valuable to delay getting help. With medical detox, you will make a critical first step towards recovery, by investing in a future that’s free of cocaine. For a short consultation regarding your needs at no cost to you, call FHE Health, a South Florida detox center at (833) 596-3502.