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What You Should Know About Cocaine Detox

Cocaine can make you feel alert, energetic and full of euphoria. It’s a powerfully addictive stimulant drug and if you use it, you probably feel pretty compelled to keep using it. Cocaine is a drug that is often associated with the wealthy and glamourous, but it also impacts the lives of many other types of people.

Not all the effects of cocaine are pleasurable. The more you use, the more you feel like you need to use. Between uses, you probably feel irritable, sensitive, negative or paranoid. You start needing higher and higher doses to get the same effect you felt at the start, and once you start increasing the amount you are using, you are also increasing your risk of overdose.

So why don’t you quit? If you are like most addicts, you have probably tried to quit multiple times. If you or a loved one is trying to get off the cycle of using and withdrawing from cocaine, you have probably figured out that it’s not as easy to quit as you thought it would be.

Detoxing From Cocaine Dependence

Withdrawing from cocaine dependence or addiction can be very unpleasant. Although it is not as physically dangerous to come off cocaine as it is to withdraw from alcohol, cocaine users can get very psychologically dependent on this drug. Quitting is definitely not as simple as just deciding not to use anymore and exerting a ton of willpower to never pick up again.

Fatigue, depression, anxiety, mood swings and difficulty concentrating are among withdrawal symptoms. You may experience aches, pains, nausea or chills, and you will probably have intense cravings to go back to using cocaine.  You’ll probably feel anxious and irritable. You may experience intense itching. In some people, withdrawing from cocaine can cause severe depression or suicidal thoughts.

Usually the unpleasant symptoms associated with detoxing from cocaine dependence ease up in one to two weeks. Long-term users may experience a longer period of discomfort when detoxing from this powerful drug. The challenging part of giving up cocaine is that intense cravings can come back when you least expect them, and can keep coming back. Cravings can even return a year or more after discontinuing habitual use.

Treatment Options for Cocaine Detox and Recovery

Treatment for cocaine addiction can be done on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. Some people may tell you that you don’t need to go to an inpatient facility to withdraw from cocaine, but many cocaine addicts are also addicted to other substances such as alcohol or heroin. Withdrawal from multiple substances can be medically dangerous, so if you have been using several different substances, you should definitely consider inpatient treatment.

For outpatient treatment, you remain at home but check in with addiction specialists for medication and counseling.  Currently there are no medicines designed specifically for cocaine withdrawal, but your doctor may recommend medication to ease depression or anxiety. There may also be nutritional monitoring or vitamin supplements recommended as you go through the detox period.

What Happens If You Don’t Go to Treatment?

Continuing to use or abuse cocaine can lead to pretty dire consequences. You don’t have to be addicted to this drug to end up suffering some disastrous effects from its use. Absorption of toxic amounts of cocaine can lead to seizures, heart attack, stroke or even death. Using cocaine is also an expensive habit that can have a big impact on your financial stability. It can cost you pretty much everything you own, leaving you jobless, with an empty bank account and a failed marriage.

Some cocaine addicts try to get away from cocaine by turning to alcohol, sedatives or hypnotics instead. Substituting one drug for another isn’t the solution, because addiction in any form can cause exactly the same problems.

The Road to Recovery

Letting go of a substance that has made you feel better at times can be pretty challenging.  You might feel like you’ll never be happy or energetic again — but you will. Most likely you didn’t become addicted overnight, and you won’t be completely recovered from cocaine addiction overnight either.

Support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous can be an important part of your recovery. By talking about your struggles with other people who have been through something similar, you will see that you are not alone, and you will learn how to cope with cravings or other challenges that you might experience.

Living in reality without dependence on substances can be freeing and uplifting.  Lifestyle changes such as exercising and improving your ability to cope with stress can also help decrease the appeal of cocaine. Although recovery won’t happen overnight, it is definitely possible to recover from cocaine addiction.

Posted on September 23, 2016 and modified on April 27, 2019

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