Cocaine is a stimulant drug used by people of all ages and is one of the most addictive drugs. Cocaine is usually used recreationally, even though it is illegal in the United States. The National Institute of Drug Abuse has reported that almost 50% of adults in the U.S. have used cocaine at least once in their life. 

Using cocaine regularly will lead to physical dependence, which means the user will experience withdrawal symptoms once they stop using. Those symptoms will become more severe after more frequent use.

Individuals who use cocaine even recreationally, will see some side effects and will show some telltale signs of cocaine use. Cocaine withdrawal symptoms will come great pain and discomfort. While some choose to withdrawal at home, the more successful treatment plans will start with detoxification in a medical treatment center. From there, the patient will be supervised around the clock to help assist with any uncomfortableness by offering medications if needed.

There are many ways and different circumstances in how recreational use becomes an addiction. Here is what we will expect once you stop using cocaine and start cocaine withdrawal and steps to take after detox.

Cocaine Use Side Effects 

Those who use cocaine report feelings of euphoria, which often leads to repeated use. The brain will adapt, resulting in the reward pathway becomes less sensitive to natural reinforcers such as relationships, food, and other natural rewards. At the same time, circuits involved in stress become increasingly sensitive, causing increased displeasure and negative moods for users when not on the drug. 

Short-term side effects from cocaine use include:

• Constricted blood vessels

• Dilated pupils

• Increased body temperature

• Increased heart rate

• Increased blood pressure

• Irritability

• Anxiety

• Panic

• Paranoia

• Restlessness

• Death

Although rare, sudden death can occur on the first use of cocaine or unexpectedly after that (according to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019). Consequently, there is no safe way to use cocaine. The user will develop a tolerance for cocaine, instigating higher, more frequent doses to produce the same level of pleasure or “high.” While it is possible to reverse some of the damage done to the body as a result of long-term cocaine abuse, some effects are irreversible. 

Long-term side effects from cocaine use include:

• Brain damage

• Heart disease

• Damage to the cardiovascular system

• Reduction of blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract

• Extreme weight loss

• Stroke

• Chest pain

• Nosebleeds

• Loss of smell

• Asthma

• Psychosis

• Auditory hallucinations

• Higher risk for contracting HIV or Hepatitis

• Death

Long-term cocaine abuse substantially increases the potential of an overdose. So, if you or a loved one wants to discontinue using cocaine, it’s in the person’s best interest to receive substance abuse treatment in the safety of a licensed medical facility.

Signs Of Cocaine Use

Habitual users of cocaine become quite good at hiding their addiction. It would surprise many to know that the National Institute of Drug Abuse reports that 14% of all Americans over the age of 12 have used cocaine at some point in their lives (according to Gans, 2019). Many users of the drug use cocaine under the pretenses that the drug improves their performance. 

Essentially, the drug gives the user a feeling of power and confidence. A user may think he/she is functioning on a higher level than they are – a clear indication of an altered mental state. Due to its ability to give its users a sense of happiness and a boost of energy, many cocaine users refuse to admit they have a problem. 

Signs that someone you know might be using cocaine include:

• Avoidance of social situations

• Changes in personal hygiene

• Needle marks on the body

• Unplanned weight loss

• Presence of drug paraphernalia 

• Financial problems

• Extreme mood swings/behavioral changes

• Lying or stealing

Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms

Although cocaine withdrawal is not as physically intense as withdrawing from other substances, it still does come with a set of uncomfortable and dangerous challenges. Withdrawal from certain substances like benzo’s and alcohol will involve more severe physical withdrawal symptoms; however, detoxing from cocaine will bring primarily psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Some symptoms of cocaine withdrawal will include:

  • Restlessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Vivid dreams
  • Increased cravings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Uninterested sexually
  • Unable to feel pleasure
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Easily physically fatigued
  • Slowed reaction
  • Chills and tremors

Using Cocaine with Other Substances 

To consume more than one drug at once is referred to as polysubstance abuse. This mixing of substances intensifies the effects of any single substance use, which gives the user a more significant high but also makes the harmful effects more dangerous. Polysubstance abuse will also create a newer and more euphoric high. For example, the results of painkillers mixed with alcohol will increase the high, but this will also make the user susceptible to having respiratory issues and could unconsciously stop breathing.

Alcohol consumption, along with drug use, will multiply the rewarding effects of both substances and increases the chances of addiction probability. Continuing to use a singular substance will reinforce the impact on the brain’s award system. To introduce another substance into the mix will boost the effects on the reward system. This chemical imbalance could spark an addiction and make an existing addiction even more potent. 

The most extreme risk of polydrug usage is combined drug intoxication. Combined drug intoxication is a frequent cause for emergency room visits and has been fatal for multiple polydrug users. The most significant risk of combined drug intoxication is a fatality.

Polydrug usage comes with dangerous side effects which include:

  • Seizures
  • Stomach bleeding
  • Liver failure
  • Heatstroke
  • Respiratory failure
  • Suppressed breathing
  •  Brain damage
  • Heart problems
  • Coma

To continuously mix multiple substances will severely deplete the brain’s calming and feel-good chemicals. To alter the minds chemical balance will have consequences of depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues down the road. 

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

The length and intensity of each individual’s withdrawal symptoms will depend on multiple different factors. Also, because cocaine stays in the body for a short period, withdrawal symptoms will, too, appear shortly after the last dose. Cocaine has a short half-life so the moment you stop using is primarily when you’ll experience an almost instant crash.

Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline

Although there isn’t an exact timeline for cocaine withdrawal, most studies have shown the process will be divided into three different phases which include:

  • The Crash — The crash period during cocaine withdrawal will occur within a few hours and up to a few days of last use. Withdrawal can happen within 90 minutes and users experience symptoms of exhaustion, restlesness, irritability and depression. Suicidal thoughts have been recorded as thoughts users have experienced during withdrawal also.
  • Continous Withdrawal — Although the mood and functioning had begin to improve at this point, the feeling of boredom or breaking under pressure may start to occur. Increased cravings, low energy and irritability could adapt during this stage and lasts 1-10 weeks. Erratic sleeping patterns and lacking focus and concentration are also typical symptoms. The urge to use relapse becomes a great risk during this phase.
  • Extinction — Intense cocaine cravings will come and go during this phase, lasting up to    six months, but lessen as time goes. Individuals dealing with Post-Acute Withdrawal System (PAWS) will have heir mood affected for months after detox has been completed.

Primarily, a majority of acute withdrawal symptoms will only be present for a couple weeks, but intensity and length of withdrawal will be different  individually. The severity is based on how often and much cocaine was used.

For the individuals who use cocaine moderately, their withdrawal symptoms will usually dissolve within 18 hours max. For heavy cocaine users, withdrawal symptoms will typically peak from four days to a week at times. For some, depression, cravings and other negative symptoms could linger for weeks to months later.

Cocaine Detox Process

The recovery process is split up into three steps, which are medical detox, treatment, and aftercare. Not every cocaine user will need medical detox, but it may be a crucial step in the treatment of moderate cases of addiction. Users who are still abusing cocaine once they enter treatment will usually start with medical detox.

The detox process is when the body cleanses the cocaine and purges it. Because cocaine does metabolize so quickly, it will leave the body in roughly 8 hours, based on the half-life of the drug. Individuals will usually detox from cocaine at home because it’s a quick process. They can fully detox within a couple of days, with some symptoms still lingering for a few weeks after. 

Overall, medical detox is a supervised version of detox, where a team of medical professionals will oversee the process and can assist if needed. Medical detox will include support to ease the patient through their cocaine withdrawal symptoms as well as administering medications if needed.

Usually, detox will take place in a hospital or an inpatient rehab facility. The patients with life-threatening issues will detox in a hospital, while others who have medical stability will detox in a rehab center.

During the detox process, the patient will experience uncomfortable cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Detoxing from cocaine will not take long, but it will be painful for most.

Once the medical detox is complete, the patient will be screened for entry into some form of a substance use disorder treatment program. The treatment plans will be continued in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Individuals who have completed detox and ready to keep the treatment can be admitted into one of these programs at any time. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with cocaine abuse, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center can help. Although detoxing at home as possible, it is not at all a safe option. Medical detox will help to ensure the process is done safely, and the patient leaves healthy. Upon leaving detox, inpatient, and outpatient treatment programs Will give the patient the correct tools and life skills that are necessary for long-term recovery.

Cocaine Addiction Treatment Options 

Cocaine addiction rehab programs will usually begin with medical detox, followed by multiple different phases of recovery care. Depending on the length and the intensity of the addiction to each patient’s needs, treatment options will be inpatient or outpatient rehab, individual and group therapy, and also dual diagnosis treatment.

Inpatient Rehab for Cocaine Addiction

During inpatient rehab treatment, the patient will live in our facility here at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center under the care of nurses, clinicians, and doctors. This will allow around the clock access to professionals in a supportive drug-free environment. As a patient works through treatment, they will step down to additional levels of care while receiving fewer hours of programming per week. These included partial hospitalization programs and intensive outpatient care.

Outpatient Rehab for Cocaine Addiction 

Outpatient rehab is built for patients with less severe addictions who have other obligations like a job, school, or people depending on them. During outpatient rehab, the patient will live offsite in a sober living home or their own home pending it’s a supportive environment. Each patient will create a custom part-time schedule for the treatment they’ll fit around their home and work responsibilities. For the patients participating as a portion of the continuum of care, outpatient rehab treatment will provide a supportive opportunity to transition out of cocaine treatment more smoothly.

Individual and Group Therapy for Cocaine Addiction

Regardless of the type, therapy is a vital part of every successful treatment program. During cocaine rehab treatment, most patients will take part in individual cognitive behavioral therapy to speak with the counselor about the psychological dependency that is coupled with cocaine addiction.

The patients will also take part in group therapy. During those sessions, group members will bond with each other in recovery while sharing their personal experiences and getting a new perspective into the multiple factors that play into addiction. Both of these methods have been proven to help build and encourage individuals in recovery.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

Mental health conditions and addiction will often occur together with tightly intertwined reasons. When both of these happen simultaneously, it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder or a dual diagnosis. In some cases, the person struggling with mental health issues will use drugs to self-medicate, and for others, drug use caused the symptoms of mental illness to develop or worsen. Regardless, to address one of the conditions without treating the other will frantically decrease the chances of achieving sobriety during treatment. 

Get Help Today

The road to recovery from cocaine withdrawal treatment begins with acknowledging there’s a problem. Cocaine addiction is a disease that many people around the world suffer from. It takes power to commit to making positive change, and it is a sign of strength to acknowledge any personal flaws. Our team at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center understands the difficulty of asking for help, and we welcome those who do with open arms.

As a nationally recognized substance abuse treatment center, our team of licensed medical professionals is here to help you navigate through the challenging road of recovery. Keep in mind that the healing process is not one to be rushed. Each patient undergoing drug rehabilitation therapy will receive an individualized drug treatment program tailored towards his/her specific needs. 

Since there is no medication available to treat cocaine addiction, it’s imperative that a user wishing to cease cocaine use in the safety of medical professionals. Our team will be by you or your loved one’s side 24/7 during the entire process, providing industry renowned medically managed detox method that is both safe and effective. After completing the detox process, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center provides each patient with the tools, training, and rehabilitation needed to make a full recovery of the mind, body, and soul. 

The National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse says that 70 percent of people who go into treatment for cocaine addiction either stop entirely or significantly reduce their consumption within six months. With statistics like that in your favor, choose Harmony Ridge Recovery Center to regain control over your life today!