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Cocaine Detox

While not cocaine detox and withdrawal is not as intense as detoxing from other drugs, cocaine detox does have some challenges.  Withdrawal from certain substances can cause severe physical symptoms, however, cocaine brings mostly psychological withdrawal symptoms during detox.  These symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue/exhaustion
  • The inability to feel pleasure or experience sexual arousal (anhedonia)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Physical symptoms might include tremors, chills, nerve pain and muscle aches
  • Thoughts or actions of suicide

Is Medical Detox a Necessity?

A detox program for cocaine detox and withdrawal is recommended in most cases.  While cocaine detox is typically safe in an outpatient situation, if a person has relapsed previously, it is recommended they go through a cocaine detox like Milestone Detox because of the 24 hour supervision provided.  If the person also suffers from co-occurring mental health issues, detox is recommended, followed by an inpatient addiction treatment program.

During regular cocaine use, the brain becomes used to the constant flood of “feel good” neurotransmitters.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cocaine prevents dopamine from being reabsorbed, and therefore it floods the brain resulting in the high associated with the use of cocaine.  Once the brain is no longer experiencing that high, depression can begin, making an increased risk of suicide one of the most problematic withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine use.  When someone tries to stop using cocaine after becoming addicted, they can suffer from mood swings and intense depression.  A medically monitored cocaine detox is recommended to ensure safety during withdrawal if there is already a history of suicidal thoughts or depression.

It is likely that withdrawal symptoms will disappear after 7-10 days.  However, cravings can occur suddenly, even years after people have gone through a complete cocaine detox or quit using the drug.  There is a very short half-life for cocaine, so withdrawal can begin as soon as 90 minutes after the last dose, however, the timeline for withdrawal varies from person to person.  Some of the factors are as follows:

Amount: When people use large amounts of cocaine, they will suffer withdrawal symptoms for much longer because their brains have become accustomed to the floods of dopamine.

Duration: People who have used cocaine for an extended period of time may have withdrawal symptoms for weeks, whereas short term usage is likely to cause a shorter period of withdrawal.

Environment:  When someone uses a drug for means of escaping reality or a stressful environment, stresses can likely trigger the desire to use again.  Environmental factors that lead to stress, can lead to intense cravings for the drug and complicates the psychological withdrawal process.

Mental health issues:  If there are any co-occurring mental health problems, the withdrawal process can be complicated.  Some of these issues are anxiety, depression, personality or eating disorders.

Purity of the drug:  People who use very pure cocaine will have longer lasting withdrawal symptoms.  Sometimes the drug is cut with fillers, thereby causing less absorption of the drug.

Cocaine Detox, Treatment, and Medications

As of now, there are no FDA approved medications for cocaine detox and withdrawal symptoms.  However, medical research has shown that there are some promising medications that may help with addiction and withdrawal from Cocaine.  Both Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, which are approved to help treat other addictions, have shown in studies that they may provide some assistance for cocaine withdrawal.

There is also a study that suggested that the Beta blocker, Propranolol, may have some benefit for those going through cocaine withdrawal.  This medication is often used to treat psychological problems and anxiety.  Since some of the main issues with cocaine withdrawal can be serious depression and anxiety (which can lead to suicidal thoughts) it is felt that psychological medications designed to reduce these symptoms could be useful for cocaine withdrawal.   A medical professional should consider these options carefully and monitor patients for negative side effects.

During cocaine detox and withdrawal, Milestone Detox can provide the most supportive and comprehensive medical environment needed during all stages of detox to ensure successful recovery.  If you or a loved one need help, call one of our professional admissions team members for a free and confidential assessment.

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