Cocaine addiction can start the first time you use the drug. Like other addictive substances, coke causes significant brain changes that makes it difficult for people to quit using. Signs of cocaine addiction include prioritizing the drug above everything else, intense cravings and a sudden change in habits or personality.
Some of the most common physical symptoms of cocaine addiction include:
- Runny nose or nosebleeds
- Lack of hygiene
- Sudden bursts of hyperactivity
Addicts often carry spoons or razor blades on their personal property. They may start to socially isolate and engage in risky behaviors that they never did before.
Cocaine Overdose Watch
Cocaine causes up to 500,000 emergency room visits per year in the United States. Deaths related to cocaine increased by over 50% between 2015 and 2016. In 2016, more than 10,000 people died due to cocaine overdose.
A cocaine overdose in process may display the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Nausea and vomiting
- Lack of focus
- Fatigue and slow movement
- Agitation and restlessness
- Nightmares and vivid dreams
- Muscle aches
- Chills and tremors
- Increased appetite
Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal and Detox Timeline
It generally takes about seven to 10 days to detox from cocaine and to see an end of symptoms. However, sometimes cocaine cravings can continue well past 10 days. Some people have reported cocaine cravings suddenly reappearing years later, despite being sober.
As previously mentioned, you’re more likely to experience uncomfortable psychological symptoms with cocaine withdrawal versus some other drugs. You may feel exhausted and unable to concentrate or even think clearly. Your desire for physical activity is likely to be highly reduced. When you do get active, you may experience serious fatigue afterward. At the same time, you might feel uncomfortably agitated and restless.
On the more severe end of cocaine withdrawal symptoms are thoughts of suicide, which may also include actual suicide attempts. Nerve pain, muscle aches and chills are also common physical symptoms.
What Affects the Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline?
Since the half-life of cocaine is extremely short, withdrawal can start at only about 90 minutes after the last dose. The symptoms then last between seven and 10 days with varying intensity. A cocaine detox timeline will be affected by the following factors:
- Size of dose
- Other medical health issues
Length of use mainly affects those who have used the drug for a year or longer. This may cause withdrawal symptoms to linger for weeks after the initial seven to 10 days. The reason for this difference is thought to be drug buildup in the body. Furthermore, those who use cocaine in very large doses are likely to experience more intense symptoms versus those who take smaller doses.
Polysubstance dependence means those with dependence on more than one drug. For example, cocaine and alcohol. The co-occurring substance dependence can complicate the withdrawal timeline.
Your environment can make a difference as well. If you used cocaine to escape, then your cravings for cocaine can also be triggered by stress. Withdrawal tends to be stressful, which means multiple occurrences of triggers for cravings.
Co-occurring physical and mental health conditions can also seriously complicate the withdrawal process. For example, depression, heart disease, or an eating disorder can make the withdrawal timeline more difficult as these conditions may be exacerbated.
How Necessary Is Medical Detox?
It’s possible to complete cocaine detox through outpatient treatment. However, medical detox is usually recommended if you relapsed previously during a withdrawal attempt. Medical detox is also recommended if you suffer from a co-occurring mental health issue. Detox alone isn’t enough to deal with cocaine addiction, and inpatient addiction treatment is usually recommended after the detox phase.
If you attempt to detox from cocaine on your own, you may be at risk for severe depression and mood swings, which often include thoughts of suicide. Medical detox involves 24-hour supervision to create a safer environment for withdrawal.
Why Is Suicide a Risk for Cocaine Withdrawal?
Suicide is a risk during stimulant withdrawal due to the previously elevated dopamine levels in a person’s brain during use. Since your brain gets used to elevated levels, it becomes less sensitive to natural dopamine. This generally results in higher amounts of cocaine use to feel the previous levels of dopamine activity. Once you stop using cocaine completely, your mood tumbles quickly into depression and mood swings. You may feel desensitized to any kind of pleasure and dissatisfied with every aspect of your life.
Medicine for Cocaine Withdrawal
Unlike opioids, cocaine does not have any FDA-approved medications to treat withdrawal symptoms. However, there are a few types of medicine that can help with addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Studies done on animals have shown that naltrexone and buprenorphine may help cocaine withdrawal symptoms. These medications are also approved to treat certain other addictions but have not been approved specifically for cocaine addiction.
Buprenorphine is an opioid, which means it has a potential for addiction and abuse on its own. However, it can be used at a low dose to reduce physical and psychological pain as well as anxiety. It does this by activating a specific type of opioid receptor known as a mu receptor. Naltrexone does this as well, which means a combination of the drugs can help reduce cravings and dysphoria without causing dependence.
Another medication is propranolol, which is a beta-blocker. It has already been approved to treat angina and high blood pressure. It may also be prescribed for anxiety disorders. As previously mentioned, one significant problem with cocaine withdrawal is the emergence of anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. If the anxiety and agitation are reduced, the other symptoms may also become easier to deal with.
Other anxiety and depression medications can also be used for those going through cocaine withdrawal. Such medications can stabilize mood swings and reduce the effects. This can be especially helpful for those with symptoms that go beyond the usual 10 days.
Cocaine Addiction and Withdrawal Recovery
It doesn’t matter if you’ve only used cocaine for a few months or a few years, there’s hope in recovery. It’s very possible to fully recover from cocaine addiction and live a sober lifestyle. An inpatient stay might last between 30 and 90 days, depending on the severity of your addiction. After that, your doctor might recommend an outpatient program for several weeks to help you maintain sobriety.
Green Mountain Treatment Center and Granite Recovery Centers
At Green Mountain Treatment Center and the Granite Recovery Centers, you can find healing through a range of treatments for cocaine addiction. We offer dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders, evidence-backed treatment like CBT as well as a variety of experiential therapies. Reach out today to get started on your road to recovery.