Cocaine Withdrawal | Timeline, Symptoms, Detox

The popularity of the addictive stimulant drug known as cocaine has withstood the test of time. It remains one of the top illegal street drugs that people use. In earlier days, coca leaves native to South America were chewed and ingested for their potent effects. And, in the early 1900s, purified cocaine was used in tonics and elixirs to treat a variety of illnesses and doctors used it to relieve pain in their patients, according to research cited by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Cocaine (also known as Coke, C, Blow, Powder, and Snow) stimulates the central nervous system and affects the brain’s reward centers that are associated with eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. It can be smoked, snorted, injected, or mixed with other drugs. The intense, euphoric but short-lived effects keep users coming back for more of the drug as their appetites for food are reduced. The more they take, the longer the “crash” or “come down” period is delayed, which signals the beginning of the withdrawal process. Binging can lead to overdose, which can be fatal.

Despite its enduring reputation as a party drug, recreational cocaine use glosses over the damage the drug can do to the body and mind. Frequent or regular cocaine use can lead to addiction and damage blood vessels, the nose and sinus cavities, and vital organs such as the heart, kidneys, and the brain.

Long-time cocaine users develop a high tolerance for the drug, which means they must take larger amounts of it for their bodies and brains to respond to it the way they once did. This means users will use more of the drug to satisfy users who quit the drug abruptly in an attempt to go cold turkey could be doing more harm than good. When use suddenly stops or is cut back, withdrawal starts soon after that.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Cocaine?

Cocaine withdrawal can be more subtle than withdrawals from other drugs. Physical symptoms, such as chills, tremors, muscle aches, and nerve pain, can occur during this period when use has stopped or been reduced. However, psychological symptoms are often the bigger challenge of cocaine withdrawal, and they can disrupt users’ daily lives. The following are withdrawal symptoms that can happen when excessive cocaine use is discontinued:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Concentration difficulties
  • Cocaine cravings
  • Delayed thinking
  • Increased appetite
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Motor impairment
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Depression
  • General discomfort
  • Vivid, unpleasant dreams
  • Slowed activity
  • Sleepiness
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts

What Are the Stages of Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline?

Cocaine withdrawal will not be the same for everyone. The intensity and duration depend on various factors, including:

  • Age, health, medical history, environment
  • Cocaine history
  • How long cocaine has been used
  • How much cocaine is used
  • The purity of cocaine used
  • The manner in which cocaine has been used
  • If cocaine has been used or cut with other drugs and substances
  • Co-occurring disorders

Cocaine has a short half-life, about an hour, so withdrawal symptoms can start 90 minutes after the last dose is taken. Symptoms can last up to one to three weeks to a month or longer, depending on the person.

Here is a general overview of what happens when a cocaine user stops taking the drug.

Days 1-3 – Recovering cocaine users may experience a “crash” period within 90 minutes after taking cocaine. After some hours have passed, users may either have insomnia or other sleeping difficulties or they may feel exhausted. They also may feel disoriented, irritable, depressed, and have an increased appetite and fewer cocaine cravings.

Days 4-7 – Psychological symptoms are the most challenging during this period. Recovering users may experience increased cravings for cocaine, anxiety, paranoia, vivid dreams, and other symptoms that make it difficult to make them not return to using. Relapse is common during this period. People pick up the drug again to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms they are experiencing.

Week 2 – Users may start to feel better physically and exhibit confidence. They also may have an increased appetite and decreased cravings for cocaine. Some may find it hard to concentrate, and feelings of restlessness, agitation, and irritability are common at this stage.

Week 3 – Cravings for cocaine may return as recovering users continue to deal with psychological symptoms, among them anger, restlessness, depression, stress, and vivid dreams.

Thirty days or more – Long-time cocaine users will generally feel better but may have Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This is a period when persistent withdrawal symptoms randomly appear from here for several more weeks or months, and in severe cases, years. PAWS symptoms include emotional instability or mood swings, short-term memory loss, depression, insomnia, dizziness, and cravings for cocaine or other drugs and alcohol. Professional addiction treatment programs and other supports, such as a 12-step program, can help recovering users manage this period.

Do You Have to Detox from Cocaine Abuse?

Quitting cocaine abruptly after frequent or longtime use is often a recipe for relapse. The highly addictive drug makes it difficult for some users to stop, but once they do, the psychological discomfort they feel may prompt them to pick up the drug again just to alleviate the withdrawal. Because of this, some people choose to go to a medically-supervised detox facility to make sure that they are well taken care of while they deal with cocaine withdrawal.

A 24-hour detox conducted by medical professionals ensures you or your loved ones are monitored in a controlled setting as uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are managed. There currently are no medications that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has specifically approved for cocaine withdrawal. However, clients could be given medications to help ease high blood pressure, nausea, chills, cravings, depression, and other symptoms.

It is important to note that detox is not for everyone. Some people aren’t able to put their lives on hold to spend a week in a detox facility. For those people, outpatient treatment may be sufficient to help them overcome their cocaine addiction. However, if you are using other dangerous substances such as alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines alongside cocaine, the withdrawal symptoms could be deadly. In these cases, medical detox is always recommended.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

Whether or not you go through a cocaine detox, clients are encouraged to enter a residential or outpatient treatment program where they can focus on their addiction. Outpatient treatment offers the most flexibility while residential require a stay of 30 days or longer at the treatment facility.

Research shows that at least three months or more are needed to treat drug addiction. A longer stay gives residential clients a chance to develop the life skills and strategies they need to live cocaine-free. They can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and other therapies and approaches that support their path to recovery. While residential treatment is not mandatory for effective treatment, it all depends on the severity of the case and whether or not other substances were abused alongside cocaine.

Aftercare

Addiction is not a simple “detox-and-go” program, but rather a lifelong process to not only achieve complete sobriety but also to maintain it. For this reason, we suggest you or anyone that needs treatment to participate in alumni aftercare programs.

Once done with detox and your main treatment program (outpatient, inpatient, residential), graduates have the chance to participate in treatment aftercare programs. From family counseling to case management (and everything in between), you can interact with your treatment team and any friends you may have made in treatment.

Simply being a member of a bigger recovery group can easily give someone the motivation they need to continue their sober life even after treatment. Recovery is about more about creating a happier and healthier new life that should feel less of a chore and more of a blessing.

Your Recovery From Cocaine Addiction Can Begin Today

Maryland House Detox understands cocaine and addiction recovery and we know how tough and frightening withdrawal can be. We view detox as a critical part of recovery from substance abuse and addiction, so we offer a 24-hour medically supervised drug rehabilitation program that can help you or your loved one recover from addiction. Our residential program averages 45 days for clients, but we base the length of stay on a person’s needs, so stays may be extended.

Call us today at 888-969-8755 or contact us online to begin your life to sobriety. Talk with us about your situation and ask us questions about our program and services.

6 Reasons Not to Detox from Alcohol on Your Own

Alcohol is one of the most widely-used addictive substances in the world, because of its legality and ease of access. Since it is so ubiquitous, it’s no surprise that over 26 percent of people age 18 and older reported binge drinking in a 2015 survey. Despite its legal use, alcohol can be very addictive when abused. Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol use disorder, and 88,000 people die because of alcohol-related causes every year.

So, since alcohol abuse is so dangerous, the best thing to do would be to quit cold turkey, right? Wrong. Detoxing from alcohol can be even more dangerous than the addiction itself. Here are six reasons why detoxing on your own isn’t a good idea.

1. Tonic-Clonic Seizures

A tonic-clonic seizure is a symptom that is common in epilepsy and can be potentially dangerous in some circumstances. Central nervous system depressants like alcohol can sometimes cause seizures as a result of your brain’s struggle to return to a balanced chemistry.

The two-part name comes from the two phases of the seizure. In the tonic phase, muscles stiffen suddenly, air is forced out of the body, and their clenching jaw may cause them to bite their cheek or tongue—the person can also lose consciousness and fall down. In this phase, the victim is at risk for injury if they are standing up or operating a vehicle or machinery.

The clonic phase follows the first phase, with rapid and sporadic arm and leg movements as the muscles relax and contract repeatedly. This will typically last up to three minutes before gradually stopping as the muscles relax. Throughout the seizure, it may be difficult for the person to breathe normally. In some cases, seizures that last longer than five minutes can be life-threatening due to a lack of oxygen.

If you are attempting to withdrawal from alcohol addiction on your own, tonic-clonic seizures can lead to life-threatening medical complications. Medical treatment during detox should be able to help you avoid or safely deal with seizures.

2. Delirium tremens

While tonic-clonic seizures aren’t typically dangerous on their own, alcohol withdrawal can also come with another, more deadly symptoms. Delirium tremens (DTs) is the hazardous onset of confusion, hallucinations, shaking, irregular heartbeat, and fever. Hyperthermia, as a result of Delirium tremens, can cause heavy sweating, fast breathing, as well as a weak and rapid pulse. If the body fails to cool down over an extensive period of time, excessive heat can lead to organ failure.

Delirium can also cause seizures on its own, furthering the victim’s state of confusion. If this symptom occurs while you are by yourself, out of the house, or operating a vehicle, it can lead to a dangerous accident. The state of confusion caused by withdrawal delirium can last for days, making it difficult for you to take care of yourself.

Hospitals and doctors identify Delirium tremens differently, so it is difficult to tell how often this symptom occurs in withdrawal. However, the current estimate is that around four percent of withdrawal hospitalizations are due to DTs. Without treatment, 25 percent of Delirium tremens cases are fatal. With treatment, that number drops to around two percent.

3. Complications Can Happen at Any Time

As symptoms come and go throughout your withdrawal timeline, you will be at the mercy of every ache, pain, and craving that your body produces while fighting to return to normal. If you try to detox by yourself, you will have very little support in alleviating the effects of withdrawal. Serious complications can occur at any time, day or night—you want to be prepared.

Through professional medical detox, you will have dedicated staff looking out for your needs 24 hours a day. If symptoms become too intense, they can treat it with medication. You will also be removed from the temptation to relapse as a way of staving off withdrawal symptoms.

Constant monitoring from medical professionals that specialize in addiction might save your life if life-threatening complications occur, but they will also provide comfort and alleviate your symptoms. Medical detox can mean the difference between an excruciating withdrawal experience and mild discomfort.

4. No Psychological Support

In addition to the physical symptoms, alcohol withdrawal syndrome may come with some psychological and cognitive effects. Anxiety, sleep disturbances, and depression commonly occur during an alcohol detox. In extreme cases, confusion and hallucinations can also occur. In medical detox, professionals will not only monitor and alleviate physical symptoms, but they can also help with psychological problems.

Feelings of deep depression that lead to thoughts of suicide can be dangerous to go through alone. No one should have to go through withdrawal without help from people who are experienced in dealing with addiction and dedicated to your recovery.

5. Lack of Accountability

One of the most common symptoms of withdrawal is an intense craving for the abused substance. In addition to nausea, anxiety, tremors, and insomnia, you will also have frequent urges to drink again. Attempting to detox on your own will mean having to withstand cravings and discomfort on the strength of your own will, which has already been compromised by addiction.

In medical detox, the goal is to ensure your safety and comfort, but it is also a top priority to keep you from using again. Relapse means starting from the beginning when it comes to detox. Accountability, beyond yourself, is the best way to make it through withdrawal without drinking again.

6. Continued Treatment

Once the chemical is out of your system, you will no longer have to deal with your body’s physical dependence on alcohol. However, you will still experience the lingering effects of addiction. It is, after all, a chronic disease with a high relapse rate. Still, relapse is not inevitable. Through continued treatment, you can learn to avoid triggers and deal with cravings.

If you feel the walls of alcoholism caving in on you, the worst feeling is to think you’re alone. You’re not. Call the specialists at Maryland House Detox at 855-969-8748, one of the most effective detox centers, with clinicians on staff to help you determine the best course of action following detox. Since no single treatment works for everyone, a clinician that can help you find a program tailored to you is ideal.