Understanding the typical cocaine withdrawal symptoms is crucial, especially considering that it is one of the most addictive stimulants available today. While it's sometimes used recreationally, it's illegal in the U.S.
According to NIDA (or the National Institute on Drug Abuse), around 15% of American adults have used cocaine at least once. Regular use of cocaine can cause physical dependence, which means that the user will suffer from withdrawal symptoms once they stop taking the drug.
The withdrawal process typically begins when an user who depends on a drug or substance ends or drastically reduces their use of this substance. If you've become dependent or hooked to cocaine, you're likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms once you quit, and these symptoms may become increasingly severe after heavy use.
One of the ways of understanding why cocaine users go through withdrawal is that it's akin to taking a loan of some good feelings while you're high, but when it's time to repay the debt of these same feelings, you are left feeling much worse when the crash of withdrawal sets in. This is referred to as a rebound effect and is a component of your body's way of maintaining homeostasis.
Dependence will develop because the body gets accustomed to cocaine within the system. It will also adapt to the presence of this substance. When someone has been using cocaine for an extended period, they may develop a tolerance to cocaine's euphoric effects. Through this adaptation, your mind will to require the drug to feel normal or even to perform as you usually do.
When cocaine is no longer available at certain doses, then withdrawal and its associated symptoms will set in. Many addicted users continue abusing cocaine in a bid to avoid these side effects. Substances like cocaine are quite addictive; however, there's a difference between dependence and addiction.
Addiction to this drug reflects the inability to prevent using and abusing a drug even in the face of personal distress due to such use. On the other hand, dependence will occur when you develop physiological adaptation to a chemical. The development of dependence will lead to withdrawal symptoms in case you stop taking cocaine.
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Cocaine withdrawal doesn't have risks similar to the withdrawal syndromes that are linked to other substances such as alcohol or benzodiazepines, which may result in fatal complications. Stimulant withdrawal is not always life-threatening. Even so, there are significant dangers which will develop in some situations. They include:
Cocaine withdrawal may bring about depression in former users. Depression symptoms may be expressed as low motivation, energy, and mood. Some users experience suicidal intentions and thoughts during cocaine withdrawal.
Users will also express paranoia, aggression, and violence during withdrawal. These effects are dangerous for users and those around them. Detox and treatment centers are necessary because they provide a secure and safe space during this point.
If a person abuses cocaine and alcohol, they run a risk of cardiac problems during withdrawal. Such a person may increase their risk of developing infarction or arrhythmia (heart attack). Similarly, seizures can arise.
Any time you use cocaine with other substances such as alcohol, withdrawal becomes significantly more complicated and much more dangerous. If you're quitting cocaine, practice full disclosure as far as your treatment center and health provider go, especially whether you're using multiple substances.
Withdrawal symptoms are experienced even by those who have not decided to quit. This cocaine withdrawal process will usually involve three distinct stages. Cocaine's euphoric rush usually fades quickly.
As a result, withdrawal symptoms swiftly follow after the last fix. Many users "binge" or take more and more of cocaine over a brief period of your time in a bit to hold off withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine binging may cause a fatal overdose.
Most people withdrawing from cocaine feel a robust desire to access and take more cocaine. These feelings are referred to as cravings and are common among users withdrawing from many addictive drugs and substances. Cravings are often driven by the wish to blunt the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal and the desire to re-experience the pleasure of the high that cocaine gives.
Feeling depressed, irritable or anxious are some of the withdrawal symptoms arising from cocaine use. Although these feelings are quite often intense during withdrawal, they tend to subside once the stage of withdrawal is over.
Feeling exhausted is another part of cocaine withdrawal. To add to the exhaustion that you naturally think after the spiking and stimulating effects of cocaine, you'll have tired yourself out through energetic activity and a lack of sleep while high on the drug.
One of the frustrations that folks may have during withdrawal is having a hard time sleeping. Despite the exhaustion, cocaine withdrawal often leads to sleep problems, including vivid and unsightly dreams, insomnia, and hypersomnia (the condition where you need too much sleep to function normally).
Increased appetite is an aspect of cocaine withdrawal, and will be exacerbated by not eating correctly while high on cocaine. However, it's vital that you support your recovery through eating a healthy diet, and small, easily-managed amounts, instead of bingeing.
People going through cocaine withdrawal will often experience some kind of physical slowing down. This is called psychomotor retardation. Conversely, they can feel agitated on a physical level.
Among the effects of withdrawal associated with stimulant abuse is an elevated risk of committing or thinking about suicide. Users who try to stop taking this drug after they have become addicted may also suffer from adverse mood swings and depression. Further, they may develop suicidal thoughts.
With the regular use of cocaine, the brain will adapt to the raised activity of dopamine in the brain that results from using the drug. With time, the brain's reward circuitry could be changed such that it becomes much less sensitive to chemicals such as dopamine. This is according to the NIDA. When this point is reached, individuals will often require the drug in increasing amounts to feel normal. Without cocaine, they'll feel quite depressed and feel a lack of satisfaction with life.
Usually, the acute cocaine withdrawal symptoms associated cocaine will clear after between 7 and 10 days. As you can expect, cocaine cravings may last for extended periods and may suddenly develop years after the former user has gotten sober.
A short half-life characterizes cocaine. If you are significantly dependent on this drug, the withdrawal symptoms may kick in as early as a hour and a half after your last instance of drug use. The withdrawal symptoms as well as their duration will vary based on the following factors:
First 1 to 3 hours: Withdrawal symptoms will emerge almost as soon you stop taking the drug. The user will start to feel anxious, irritable, and exhausted. It seems unfeasible, but cocaine cravings may start to decrease.
Week 1: Intense cravings will arise. Users will feel tired, but at the same time, they will have issues falling asleep. Vivid and unpleasant dreams are the norm, as well as frequent depression and mood swings.
Weeks 2 to 4: Depression and powerful cocaine cravings will persist. Recovering users will find it hard to concentrate or focus. Agitation and irritability are also frequent.
Weeks 5 to 10: The body and mind will start to heal, and withdrawal symptoms may start reducing. Cocaine cravings may still arise here. Uneasiness and general anxiety, however, may return sporadically.
Detox points to the management of lingering effects of intoxication. Detox also leads to the management of withdrawal symptoms that crop up once the cessation of drug use occurs. Detox programs will help clear cocaine from your system, allowing your body to adjust and function normally, and cease relying on cocaine to function normally.
Detox can occur in both outpatient and inpatient settings. Some people detoxing from the drug could be able to recover at home if they have a supportive and safe environment. For those who have less than the ideal home environment, inpatient rehab is an apt choice.
Some of the aims of detox programs include:
When you complete the detox process, a solid aftercare and rehab plan should be in place so that substance abuse treatment can commence. Typically, drug detox is the first step in a long journey to managing drug dependency and addiction.
Mental health treatment may also be necessary. Often, the rehab and treatment process will involve such elements as building healthy relationships, developing social skills, attending self-help groups, and seeking and finding employment. The ultimate goal is to develop and reinforce a balanced and productive lifestyle in recovery.
While detox may be completed on an outpatient basis, medical detox is recommended in some instances. For instance, if a former user has relapsed during past withdrawal attempts, the around-the-clock supervision afforded by medical detox can be invaluable.
Besides, if the former user suffers from co-occurring mental health disorders, medical detox succeeded by comprehensive inpatient addiction treatment may effectively address withdrawal management and mental health treatment needs.
Practical therapeutic approaches in the treatment and rehab of cocaine use and addiction may encompass cognitive-behavioral therapy (or CBT) that helps drug users comprehend the impact of their feelings, behaviors, and thoughts on their drug use.
Finally, there is the matrix model that is specifically designed for the management and recovery of stimulant addiction. This treatment option combines the various aspects of other therapy styles and a range of individual therapy, family sessions, and group counseling. As such, it can prove to be effective in managing your cocaine withdrawal symptoms and cravings and helping you overcome your addiction to this drug.