Many people assume that cocaine detox isn’t dangerous because of the lack of a physical dependence similar to opioids. However, this isn’t always the case. Cocaine detox can present some particularly dangerous situations, especially in individuals that suffered from cocaine abuse disorder for a lengthy period.
Being educated on cocaine detox can help you or someone you know overcome the most difficult stages of this battle. There are several clear phases of cocaine detox. Regardless of the specific way you choose to approach it, it’s important to be prepared.
In this article, we’ll highlight the most relevant areas of cocaine detox. We’ll also provide you with tips and insight regarding the most efficient ways to approach recovery.
What Is Cocaine Detox Like?
The symptoms of cocaine detox can range in severity, depending on several important elements. Detoxing from cocaine may manifest several physical and mental challenges because of the way it acts on the nervous system.
The fast-acting properties of cocaine and the wide range of emotions caused during abuse make the detox process especially challenging. Psychological challenges involved with this drug include the cocaine comedown often associated with depression and anxiety.
The duration of the cocaine detox period and the amount used are heavily affected by the duration of use. Withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine detox may persist for ten days. The following section will outline some of the most common signs associated with cocaine withdrawal.
Common Signs of Cocaine Withdrawal
Most of the symptoms involved with cocaine detox and withdrawal are mental. However, certain physical symptoms are possible at times. Listed below are some of the most common signs of cocaine withdrawal.
- Difficulty concentrating
- Slowed thinking
- Hostility and aggression
- Vivid nightmares
- Thoughts of suicide
- Intense cravings for cocaine
Significant mental health risks exist as a result of cocaine detox. Although detox and withdrawal are normally viewed as short-term challenges, the psychological properties of cocaine may lead to long-term mental health issues.
Suicidal ideation and cocaine abuse are commonly related. Cocaine abuse is often associated with higher occurrences of suicidal thoughts among users.
Major depressive disorder can manifest because of long-term cocaine abuse. Combined with alcohol, the chances of this disorder are even higher.
When this depressive disorder takes hold, individuals will commonly express thoughts of suicide. In the most severe cases, attempts at suicide may persist, leading to the need for significant mental health treatment.
Because of the marked risk of these mental health challenges, an individual with substance abuse disorder must understand treatments for cocaine detox.
Treatments for Cocaine Detox
Treatments for cocaine detox may provide significant relief from the most severe side effects. The section below outlines the most common treatments for cocaine detox.
Currently, there are no FDA-approved medication options for cocaine detox. However, certain medications are used off-label to treat the symptoms of cocaine detox. These medications include antidepressants or antianxiety prescriptions to reduce depression and stabilize moods.
Treatments that focus on changing behaviors associated with substance abuse disorder may be effective. These treatments can take place during inpatient rehab or on an outpatient basis. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown promising results during treatments for cocaine detox.
Reward-based therapy is a simple but effective way to treat cocaine abuse disorder. Receiving rewards for abstaining from cocaine use can be a great way to educate individuals about triggers and other elements associated with relapse.
Using a sauna can provide significant physical and emotional benefits long after the detox is over. This is primarily because the body is full of toxins because of ongoing substance abuse.
Certain phases of cocaine detox require different remedies to provide relief. The following section contains an example of the cocaine detoxification timeline.
Cocaine Detoxification Timeline
The metabolic process aids the body in eliminating cocaine from the system. The half-life of cocaine is the amount of time it takes for the body to eliminate exactly half of the concentration of this substance.
The half-life of cocaine is somewhere around six hours. The primary metabolite, benzoylecgonine, has a half-life of 12 hours. This means that it can take several days to completely eliminate this chemical from the body.
Elimination times of drugs have a significant effect on the detox timeline. Typically, cocaine remains present in a user’s urine for about three days. Below is the most common example of the detox process.
1. The Crash Period
The initial loss of euphoria associated with cocaine abuse can last anywhere from a few hours to three days.
2. The Craving Period
This stage includes intense cravings for the drug and can last anywhere from one to 10 weeks.
3. The Extinction Phase
After 30 weeks, the most intense cravings for cocaine will subside. However, random, intermittent periods of craving may happen occasionally.
During the detox process, understanding the most effective methods for therapy can provide certain levels of relief.
Therapy Techniques for Stimulant Users
Stimulant users experience certain types of mental challenges because of the way these drugs act on the brain and nervous system. Some of the most effective therapy techniques are listed below.
- Healthy eating habits may promote improvement among stimulant users. Selecting a healthier diet will trigger positive mental and physical changes.
- A healthy exercise regimen may also provide relief and therapeutic benefits. These benefits are also mental as well as physical.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one of the most effective mental health techniques for stimulant users. This therapy gets to the root of substance abuse disorder to help individuals continue recovery and abstain from using.
While it’s clear that inpatient and outpatient treatment options are effective in emerging victorious while battling addiction, many individuals question the need for medical detox. Is there a clear need for medically assisted detox for cocaine?
Do I Need Medical Detox for Cocaine?
Not everyone requires medical detox for cocaine. However, certain individuals have experienced higher levels of success by taking advantage of this method of detox.
There are multiple benefits that medical detox for cocaine provides. These benefits include:
- The presence of a medical team
- Addiction support during detox
- Nutritional support and proper meal planning
- The ability for screening before entering the next phase of treatment
Subsequent phases of treatment include many different options. Evidence-based cocaine treatment methods are highly tested and studied ways to treat cocaine abuse disorder. The following section highlights some of these methods.
Evidence-Based Cocaine Treatment Methods
Pharmacotherapies are treatment methods used that include prescription medications to treat cocaine abuse disorder. Types of medications used range in variety and include antidepressants or other psyche medications.
Behavioral therapies are also heavily researched and tested. These behavioral therapies include CBT, community reinforcement, 12-step therapy, contingency management, and the matrix method.
Two of the more popular methods of treatment are contingency management and the matrix method. Below, these two methods are examined in greater detail.
The matrix model provides a framework for helping individuals continue abstinence from cocaine abuse. Therapists act as teachers and coaches, using certain methods to reinforce positive behavioral changes. Several studies have shown significant improvements in the lives of individuals with cocaine abuse disorders.
Contingency management uses rewards as a means to promote abstinence. One of the most common forms of this treatment is patients receiving vouchers for each positive urine test they submit. These vouchers hold monetary value and are exchanged for food items, movie passes, and other rewards.
These are all forms of mental treatments. However, there is also significant physical damage that results from cocaine abuse.
Physical Damage from Cocaine Use
There are several different physical risks involved with long-term cocaine use. Many of these physical side-effects can be deadly. However, many of these physical challenges may subside through abstinence and treatment.
Several heart-related issues exist as a result of cocaine abuse. High blood pressure, increased heart rate, stroke, and heart disease are potential outcomes of long-term abuse. Cocaine is a stimulant that dramatically affects the heart and cardiovascular system. The longer a user engages in cocaine abuse, the more severe the physical side effects become.
Skin and Face Issues
Cocaine also causes several negative skin conditions. These skin conditions can cause colored spots on the face and areas of infection. It’s more common to see these skin conditions when a user insufflates cocaine.
Nasal injuries may also prevail because of cocaine abuse. The cartilage may deteriorate inside the nose, leading to the collapse of the structure of the entire nasal system. Sinus problems may also abound, leading to breathing issues and other challenges.
Another significant risk of cocaine abuse includes cocaine and alcohol toxicity. This issue persists in users that commonly mix these two drugs.
Cocaine and Alcohol Toxicity
Mixing cocaine and alcohol leads to the production of a completely different psychoactive substance. Cocaethylene has a plasma half-life that is five times higher than that of cocaine.
For many users, the production of this substance produces pleasant effects. However, the dangers associated with this combination can be deadly.
Seizures, liver damage, and the compromised functioning of the immune system are all possible results of cocaine and alcohol toxicity. Additionally, the risk of sudden death because of this combination is 25-times higher than that of cocaine abuse alone.
Because of the mental and physical risks associated with cocaine abuse, the need for long-term recovery is vital. There are several important steps to achieve this, which are outlined below.
Long-Term Recovery from Cocaine
Recovering from cocaine on a long-term basis requires several important steps and elements. The list below highlights the most relevant needs for a user to experience long-term recovery.
Cocaine detox is the first step in long-term recovery. Individuals are required to decide between at-home detox, detox in an inpatient setting, or medically assisted detox. Individuals that have prior health issues or a long history of cocaine abuse may require medically assisted detox.
Normally, detox in an inpatient setting is the most common in terms of treatment options. At-home detox is not commonly recommended, as it often results in relapse when detox symptoms become severe, and cravings overtake users.
Regardless of the specific route for detox, it’s important that the individual has elements of comfort and support. This includes proper meals, verbal support, and other elements of recovery.
After successfully navigating cocaine detox, the next step is selecting the proper form of treatment. There are several options regarding treatment for cocaine rehab.
Rehab options for long-term cocaine recovery include inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment. Each of these has several benefits that may be more appealing to different individuals.
Inpatient rehab includes a controlled environment that is more conducive to recovery and sobriety. Clients have access to medical staff and mental health professionals.
Regular sessions are available with psychologists to promote education regarding recovery. Additionally, dual-diagnosis treatment is prescribed in certain situations. This allows therapists and clients to get to the root of substance abuse disorder by identifying and treating underlying mental health challenges.
The chances of relapse are much lower with inpatient rehab. Clients are separated from elements of temptation, leading to higher chances of successful completion of treatment.
Outpatient rehab will allow individuals to maintain a normal work and home life. However, a high amount of willpower and focus are required to successfully complete outpatient treatment.
The most important element of outpatient treatment is the presence of a strong support system. Family and loved ones around the individual participating in treatment are required to hold the individual accountable for staying sober.
Once inpatient or outpatient treatment is complete, the final element is choosing aftercare services. This may include continued treatment for mental health issues and remaining proactive regarding education for substance abuse disorder.
Group meetings with peers in the form of 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous are effective forms of continued recovery options. Ensuring that a strong support system is present also important for long-term recovery from cocaine abuse disorder.
Icarus Behavioral Health provides referrals to top detoxes and the steps in with all the resources needed for long-term recovery. If you or someone you love has an issue with cocaine abuse, we encourage you to contact one of our admissions specialists to inquire about treatment options.