Everything about Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine is a very powerful stimulant that affects the central nervous system to produce feelings of invincibility, high-energy, and the intense ‘rush’ users talk about so much. People new to cocaine tend to only think about the positive feelings it produces because of a pervasive myth that there are no withdrawal symptoms related to use of the drug. But that myth is anything but reality. Cocaine withdrawal is very real and, in some cases, very dangerous.

We will explain the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal in just a minute. But before we do, it must be made clear that anyone who goes through withdrawal symptoms that are more prolonged with each use is someone who is likely addicted to the drug. Withdrawal symptoms demonstrate that the user’s body needs the drug in order to continue feeling good.

We know from our experience that it doesn’t take much for a person to start developing the kind of tolerance that leads to prolonged withdrawal symptoms and eventual dependence. Cocaine is a powerful drug to begin with, but it is made more dangerous by the fact that the pleasurable effects it produces last only a short time. Cocaine that is injected or smoked produces feelings that only last about 10 minutes or so; snorted cocaine can make you feel good for 20 to 30 minutes.

What Happens When You Take Cocaine?

As previously stated, cocaine is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. Upon reaching the brain, the drug inhibits the brain’s ability to process certain chemicals known to control mood, energy levels, etc. The resulting chemical imbalance stimulates the brain’s pleasure centre to create those feelings of high energy and euphoria.

Cocaine also affects the natural response to dopamine receptors. This is what makes the drug so highly addictive. For people predisposed to addictive behaviour through dopamine response, it only takes a few hits of cocaine to start the tolerance and use cycle that quickly leads to dependence.

The stimulating effects of cocaine tend to make a person feel very energetic and excitable. Cocaine users will briefly feel like nothing can harm them, often leading to dangerous behaviour that can include things such as drug driving and criminal activity. But the effects of cocaine do not last long. And when they wear off, users tend to come down severely.

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

The pervasive myth that cocaine has no withdrawal symptoms is the result of a misunderstanding of what withdrawal is. Coming off cocaine may not make you physically sick to the same degree heroin or alcohol might, but the withdrawal symptoms are real nonetheless.

Cocaine withdrawal experts divide the symptoms into early and late stage categories. Most people coming off cocaine will experience a peaking of symptoms somewhere between 48 and 72 hours. Symptoms begin to subside until they are completely gone within 7 to 10 days. The one withdrawal symptom that may linger for weeks or months is the intense craving for cocaine.

The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine are:

  • anxiety, agitation, and depression
  • intense cocaine cravings
  • mood swings; including irritability and angry outbursts
  • muscle pain and spasms
  • mild shaking to moderate tremors
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lethargy; lack of motivation
  • extreme fatigue
  • sleep disturbances (mild to full insomnia).

People coming off cocaine frequently complain that the worst symptoms are the cravings, excessive fatigue, and angry outbursts. If a user decides to take more cocaine in order to relieve those symptoms, he or she is setting him/herself up for an even stronger dependence than already exists.

Medically Supervised Detox Is Recommended

Another common mistake cocaine users make is assuming that they can undergo cocaine withdrawal on their own with minimal danger. While it is true that some drugs pose a far more severe risk during withdrawal, coming off cocaine can still be dangerous for some people.

For example, angry outbursts combined with physical tremors could cause a user going through withdrawal to fall violently to the ground. Such a fall is an open invitation to a potentially serious head injury. Rare but also possible are heart attacks and strokes that can occur as a direct result of increased heart rate and blood pressure.

For these reasons, we recommend medically supervised detox at a private rehab clinic. Medical supervision allows for two things. First, prescription medications can be administered to help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Second, doctors and nurses can continue to monitor the patient’s condition and respond immediately if an emergency arises.

What Happens after Withdrawal

It is theoretically possible to undergo a 10-day cocaine withdrawal treatment and immediately return to normal life without ever been tempted by the drug again. But such cases are rare. Because cocaine cravings are so strong, the average user finds him/herself battling those cravings even after withdrawal is complete. It usually takes several weeks of additional therapies to help the recovering user through this very difficult time.

The rehab clinics we work with offer clients a comprehensive rehab programme in a residential setting for the most thorough and complete recovery possible. Therapists use a variety of methods to help patients cope with their cravings, accompanied by other therapies that get to the root of addictive behaviour so as to prevent the user from going down that road again.

With a comprehensive rehab programme up to 12 weeks long, it is possible to break free of cocaine for good. It has been our experience that the best option for accessing that kind of treatment is to utilise a private rehab clinic that specialises in cocaine addiction recovery.

Our job as a referral organisation is to connect our clients with local rehab clinics. We work with clinics all over the UK, as well as other service providers including the NHS, counsellors, local charities, etc. If there is a cocaine recovery programme anywhere near you, we likely knew about it. We invite you to contact us right away to learn more about cocaine withdrawal and rehab.

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