The effects of cocaine
Cocaine is a narcotic derived from the leaves of the coca plant, which is native to South America. It generally takes the form of a fine white powder, which can be snorted through the nose, rubbed into the gums or dissolved and injected straight into the bloodstream. A form that has been processed to form a crystalline structure, known as crack or freebase cocaine, is also increasingly common.
Taking cocaine can create a short-term sense of euphoria. The drug interacts with the reward pathways of the brain and affects the production of the ‘feel good’ chemical messenger dopamine. While it initially stimulates the pleasure centre of the brain, it also stops the brain from reabsorbing dopamine as it would normally do. As the body adjusts to the increased levels of dopamine produced when taking cocaine, you need more and more of the drug to feel good and eventually just to feel normal.
This means that when you are not taking cocaine, you will feel less pleasure in other areas of life. You are also likely to experience symptoms of cocaine withdrawal that could include depression, fatigue, anxiety, increased appetite, bad dreams, insomnia and slowed or foggy thinking. Other physical symptoms can include headaches, nausea, tremors and shakes.
Cocaine detox and withdrawal
It is precisely because this withdrawal process is so unpleasant that many cocaine users fail to kick their substance abuse habit if they try to go it alone. Cocaine withdrawal is not usually life threatening and can be less severe than withdrawal from opioids such as heroin, with many of the associated side effects being psychological rather than physical. The detox and withdrawal process should not be taken lightly however and going ‘cold turkey’ alone can be dangerous. Some of the most dangerous possibilities include severe depression leading to suicidal thoughts.
A supervised, structured cocaine detox is both safer and more likely to be successful. You will have trained medical staff and substance recovery experts who can make sure you are physically okay and offer emotional and psychological support. It’s also important to note that in a drug rehabilitation facility you are likely to be further away with no access to cocaine even if your resolve falters.
How long does the detox process take?
Cocaine is a relatively short-lasting drug. Its active effects do not generally last for more than a couple of hours, although traces of the drug can still be detected in blood and saliva for a couple of days and in urine for up to two weeks for heavy users.
Even though most of the substance itself is flushed out relatively quickly though, the withdrawal symptoms can last much longer.
There is no set time for the process. It can vary depending on the individual and a wide range of factors including certain health issues, how long the user has been using cocaine and how heavy a user they are.
The cocaine withdrawal and detox process is typically divided into three distinct phases however.
- The crash
Often referred to as ‘cocaine blues’, this initial stage is also known as dysphoria and typically starts anywhere between a few hours and a few days after the last use of the drug. This is a very difficult phase to get through and will generally involve extremely strong cravings. There may be physical withdrawal symptoms and the user may experience depression, exhaustion, restlessness and irritability. Some users may experience suicidal thoughts during the crash.
- Continued withdrawal
Physical symptoms should improve but the cravings may return, along with issues such as poor concentration and disturbed sleep patterns, irritability, an inability to feel pleasure and difficulties in becoming sexually aroused. This phase can last for several weeks and the chance for relapse can be high.
Most of the symptoms should gradually start to improve but cravings are still likely to come and go and can sometimes be very intense. There can also be continuing mood swings and this phase can last up to six months.
Could a cocaine recovery programme help?
If you or a loved one are suffering from a cocaine addiction problem, a specialist treatment program can provide a much better chance of success than attempting to tackle it alone. The crucial cocaine detox process will be supervised and a range of treatment options will also be available.
Treatments could include painkillers to ease physical symptoms during the crash phase of withdrawal, although only where this is deemed appropriate by a medical professional. Treatments such as counselling and therapy can actually be far more effective, especially in the medium to longer term. Most people who are trying to quit cocaine need a lot of support and a professionally designed and delivered recovery programme can really improve their chances.
Choosing the right treatment centre
Beating a long-standing cocaine addiction is not an easy thing to do but finding the right treatment centre can certainly help. Located in Largs, North Ayrshire, Nova Recovery offers a tranquil setting that can allow you to get away from the pressures of everyday life and the triggers associated with your addiction. The clinic has been designed to offer drug and alcohol addiction treatment throughout Scotland with transport to the clinic being included with all programmes.
While we are a new clinic, our staff have a wealth of experience and our facilities are second to none. Overcoming an addiction is not generally quick or easy. It is an ongoing process, but our cocaine detox programme can play a vital part in your long-term recovery