Cocaine–also called coke, blow, and snow–is an illegal drug derived from coca leaves. It is often diluted with common household substances, such as cornstarch and baking soda. Cocaine is a potent stimulant that quickly produces euphoric effects in users. However, this high is often short-lived, causing an addicted person to go on another binge or experience a “crash.” This crash is part of the cocaine withdrawal process that can have severe physiological effects that include depression, strong drug cravings, and–in the most extreme cases–thoughts of suicide. Getting medical help for cocaine withdrawal helps people avoid relapse and puts them on a path to long-term recovery.
The Risks of Stopping Cocaine Cold Turkey
Cocaine withdrawal lacks many of the typical physical side effects of other addictive drugs. But its psychological consequences can be just as serious. Also, many cocaine users are cross-addicted to other substances, like alcohol and heroin, further complicating the withdrawal process. These are sometimes used to alleviate the crash feeling after the effects of cocaine fade away. People who want to safely end a cocaine addiction should consider attending a drug rehab or detox facility to ensure safety and success.
Other Health Complications Due to Cocaine Use
- Tissue damage: Users who snort cocaine through their nasal passages often do severe damage to these sensitive membranes. Users sometimes develop a hole in the bone and cartilage–called the septum–that divides the nasal cavities. Some experience a loss of smell and frequent nosebleeds.
- Serious Infections: Users can inject cocaine into their bloodstream using intravenous (IV) needles. IV cocaine users risk contracting serious conditions, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C, through the sharing of needles or contaminated drug paraphernalia. Sometimes IV users inject both cocaine and heroin–called “speedballing”–into their systems. HIV or hepatitis B and C have no cures, but treatments are available. A drug rehab center can test for these sometimes deadly viruses and put an infected person on a path to long-term treatment.
- Organ Damage: Cocaine affects the central nervous system, speeding up heart rate and increasing blood pressure. Prolonged cocaine use can have debilitating effects on the heart. Some users can experience fatal heart attacks after abusing the drug. A detox facility will monitor a client’s vital signs to ensure they safely withdrawal from cocaine.
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Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Common Cocaine Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of cocaine withdrawal can vary, depending on how long the person has abused the drug and how it was consumed. Those who inject the drug or smoke crack-cocaine are more likely to have severe withdrawal symptoms.
- body aches
- increased appetite
- vivid dreams or nightmares
- auditory Hallucinations
- nerve pain
- thoughts of suicide
Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline Symptoms
Cocaine Withdrawal Detox and Treatment
How to Safely Withdrawal from Cocaine
Cocaine is highly addictive, making it difficult for users to stop. The symptoms of withdrawal from cocaine are more psychological than physical. Cocaine floods the brain with dopamine, causing feelings of euphoria. Users eventually become accustomed to these increased pleasure levels, and when they stop depression, anxiety and discomfort set in.
Treatment at a drug rehab or detox facility can help users through these psychological side effects. Symptoms include mood swings, cravings, and–in the most serious cases–thoughts of suicide.
Detoxing from cocaine is especially difficult for people with existing mental health issues. Withdrawal can be especially dangerous for people who already suffer from depression or have attempted suicide in the past. Medical professionals recommend that people with a history of mental health issues seek treatment at a drug rehab to safely withdrawal from cocaine.
Currently, there are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat cocaine withdrawal. But clients at a detox facility can be treated with medications to help alleviate some symptoms like high blood pressure and depression.
Continue Treatment after Detox
After detox, clients are encouraged to enroll in an inpatient or outpatient drug treatment program to prevent a return to use. Although most physical withdrawal symptoms subside after about 10 days, psychological symptoms such as depression and cravings can persist. Inpatient or outpatient drug treatment programs can help clients through these Post Acute Withdrawals (PAWS). Many treatment centers have found Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment for clients who have been addicted to cocaine.
Cocaine Withdrawal FAQs
- 40 percent: Forty percent of all emergency room visits due to drug abuse in 2011 involved cocaine
- 1.5 million: About 1.5 million people used cocaine in the past month, according to a 2014 study
- 4 percent: Cocaine abuse–excluding crack-cocaine–accounts for about 4 percent of admissions to drug rehab centers, according to a 2008 study