How To Detox From Cocaine?
Cocaine detox is an early intervention that safely removes the drug from the system. Besides, it helps minimize uncomfortable symptoms that might occur during withdrawal. Detox increases your likelihood of sticking to your treatment and reduces the risk of relapses.
To detox cocaine from your system, your healthcare team may use medications, psychotherapy (talk therapy), and other approaches.
How Medically Supervised Cocaine Detox Reduces The Risk of Relapse
What Happens During Cocaine Detox?
Cocaine detox significantly reduces the amount of dopamine – the feel-good chemical – in the brain. Consequently, when you take lower doses or stop using the drug, you will develop symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Cocaine detox programs aim to make this transition comfortable while helping you avoid the severe consequences of chronic drug use.
The first step of cocaine detox is the assessment, where a doctor will check if you have an underlying mental health problem, heart disease, or drug dependence. For this purpose, they may order routine tests, such as: ● Blood tests ● Heart enzymes analysis ● Chest x-ray ● ECG (electrocardiogram) ● Toxicology screening ● Urine tests
Medical & Non-Medical Treatment
Once they diagnose your condition, they will give you medications to alleviate mood and relieve irritability. For example, some commonly used drugs in cocaine withdrawal are anti-anxiety agents and antidepressants. Besides, your doctor may prescribe medicines to lower your blood pressure.
In the meantime, they will also observe and monitor you for depression and suicidal thoughts/behaviors.
Drug therapy is often combined with psychotherapy. In psychotherapy, you will work with a therapist to learn skills and tools to control cravings and cope with psychological issues. A type of psychotherapy - CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) - is widely used in addiction treatment. CBT helps a drug user identify and replace the psychological causes of cocaine addiction.
Follow-up care is essential to preventing relapses and maintaining your gains. This includes continuing support, education, and group/individual therapy. Most experts advocate a dual diagnosis treatment model, as multiple drug use and mental issues often occur with cocaine dependence.
How Long Does It Take to Detox Cocaine?
In most cases, it takes 1 to 10 weeks to detox cocaine. That said, some symptoms may persist up to 28 weeks in heavy or chronic users. Notably, the symptoms tend to become milder over time.
Cocaine Withdrawal and Timeline
Cocaine withdrawal happens when someone who has used large amounts of cocaine reduces the dose or stops taking the drug. Besides, it may occur even when someone has not completely discontinued the drug and has some drug in their system.
Most users have minor physical withdrawal symptoms but profound psychological effects. Cocaine withdrawal typically involves three distinct phases.
Phase I: “The Crash”
The first phase happens when a heavy user abruptly stops taking cocaine. Because cocaine has a short half-life (about 1.5 hours), the withdrawal symptoms occur rapidly, usually within hours to a few days after the last intake. The hallmarks of the crash are:
● Acute dysphoria (a state of distress)
● Increased irritability
● Increased desire for sleep
● Increased appetite
● Reduced drug craving
Phase II: “The Withdrawal”
Phase II can last from 1 to 10 weeks and usually includes:
- Intense drug craving
- Poor concentration
- Irritability (less intense than the crash)
- Tiredness (less severe than the crash)
Phase III: “The Extinction”
During this stage, you may have occasional cravings triggered by external factors, such as visiting the place where you used to take the drug. Some people may experience mild dysphoria. The extinction phase can last up to 28 weeks.
Factors Affecting Cocaine Withdrawal
Several factors can affect the withdrawal intensity and timeline, including:
Duration of Use
Symptoms tend to last longer in people who have taken cocaine for several years. This is because such people have large amounts of the drug stored in the body.
Those who consume large doses experience more intense symptoms than those who use lower quantities.
Use of other drugs
Cocaine users often use other drugs, particularly alcohol, which may affect the severity or duration of withdrawal.
Co-existing mental illness or other health issues
Depression is a common finding in people with cocaine dependence. Thus, withdrawal symptoms – dysphoria and anxiety – might be due to either cocaine withdrawal, depression, or both. Moreover, heart disease and eating disorders can complicate the course of withdrawal.
A personal story of trauma or a family of drug use can affect how long the withdrawal lasts.
Best Detox For Cocaine and Why You Need Medical Cocaine Detox
Addiction experts have repeatedly opined that withdrawal under medical supervision is the best way to detox cocaine out of your system.
Since cocaine withdrawal mainly causes psychological symptoms, many people think that detox is unnecessary.
However, this approach can backfire, as cocaine use can moderate suicidal attempts if you already have a co-occurring mental illness. Notably, even if you have no underlying mental health issue, detox can cause uncomfortable psychological effects and impair your quality of life.
Besides, medical detox is also necessary if you have a history of relapses in the previous withdrawal attempts.
You can detox from cocaine in an outpatient or inpatient facility. That said, considering the profound risk of serious complications, most experts recommend enrolling in an inpatient program. Inpatient treatments offer 24-hour supervision that is crucial to addressing both cocaine dependence and an underlying mental health issue.