Deciding to detox from cocaine is the first step in healing an addiction to the drug. But what is the cocaine detox timeline? While the process of detoxing may be long, the benefits experienced when a person reclaims their life from their addiction will make the journey well worth it. Since cocaine is highly addictive, detoxing from the drug is best when facilitated by professionals that can guide the user through this difficult time.
Knowledge is the best tool for overcoming addiction. Therefore, it’s time to explore the cocaine detox timeline and cocaine addiction treatment. By doing so, you’ll get a better understanding of how users can break free of their addiction.
How Cocaine Affects the Body
This addictive substance affects the reward pathways of the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system. Cocaine use disrupts this system’s normal function by binding to the dopamine transporter and postponing the removal of the chemical from the synapse, or the space between two neurons. Once dopamine builds up in the synapse, a feeling of euphoria is triggered by the release.
Over time, use of this drug actually changes the chemistry of the user’s brain. Prolonged use of cocaine affects the reward circuit of the brain. Since cocaine produces higher levels of dopamine, the user seeks more and more of the drug to achieve the same euphoric state originally experienced when using the drug. When an addicted user refrains from using the drug, he or she may exhibit withdrawal symptoms as the body is craving that high to function.
Cocaine Detox and Withdrawal
Before a person can overcome their cocaine addiction, they must first rid the body of the substance. Detoxification describes the process of removing toxic substances from the body. During the detox, the user is bound to experience withdrawal symptoms. While the detox can be attempted without assistance, inpatient and outpatient programs provide a multitude of benefits.
Trained professionals are able to usher the user through their withdrawal symptoms and provide support during this physically painful and psychologically difficult experience. Cocaine abusers that decide to use these types of programs are generally more successful in breaking their habit.
Those who struggle with mental health disorders, have experienced a relapse when detoxing in the past, or lack a supportive environment may consider inpatient programs during the initial phase of their detox. Professional programs help ensure that a user detoxes safely and doesn’t become a threat to themselves during this trying time.
Cocaine Detox Timeline
The length of time it takes for cocaine to leave a person’s system can vary depending on the severity of the addiction. Generally, due to cocaine’s short half-life, the drug can leave a person’s system within 7–14 days. More severe addictions could extend over a period of weeks and could warrant medical intervention when necessary.
Before the Detox
When a user decides to detox from cocaine, he or she should set themselves up for success by priming their environment for the process. Users should avoid people, places, and situations that may trigger their desire for the drug. To curb the restlessness caused by cocaine withdrawal, the user should create a peaceful environment within the home. Whether it be with friends, family, or a group, the user should seek support during their detox.
Outpatient and inpatient programs should also be considered when beginning to detox from cocaine. As mentioned above, those with a history of drug abuse or psychological disorders, a tendency to relapse, and users who are unable to seek a healthy environment could greatly benefit from professional cocaine detox services.
Week 1 of Cocaine Detox
During the first week of detox, the harshest of the withdrawal symptoms will occur. Patients going through a medical detox may be prescribed medication if they experience particularly harsh withdrawal symptoms. While there are no FDA-approved medications for cocaine withdrawal, there are drugs available that can help individuals get through their detox more comfortably.
Medications such as gabapentin, modafinil, and topiramate are a few drugs that a doctor might prescribe to help restore a cocaine addicts normal brain function during their recovery. The goal of these medications is to promote relief in the central nervous system during the detoxification process. Typically, medication isn’t used as a long-term treatment, but rather as a way for patients to get through their detox safely.
1–3 Days of Detox
Cocaine’s short half-life means that some users experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as 90 minutes after their last dose. Because of this, one can expect the first few days of the cocaine detox to involve the most severe of the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Trouble sleeping
- Lack of energy
- Loss of motivation
These symptoms can be expected to be severe enough to interfere with the user’s daily life. The first few days are uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. Disturbed sleep may also be accompanied by nightmares and strange dreams.
4–7 Days of Detox
Due to cocaine’s manipulation of the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect mood, the first week of detox is likely to be plagued with extreme emotions. As the brain begins to slowly regain its normal function, the addicted individual is likely to experience mood swings, apathy, and intense cravings for the drug. Symptoms during this time often include:
- Muscle spasms
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
Though the symptoms experienced by individuals vary based on the criteria we have discussed, such as length of use and average dosage amount, these emotional and physical disorders are very common during cocaine detox. During this time, the user can expect periodic cravings that range from mild to extreme. These cravings may cause the addicted individual to seek out the drug, which is why continuous support is essential during this period.
Week 2 of Cocaine Detox
The good news is that the withdrawal symptoms typically become easier in the second week of the detox process. While symptoms of depression, anxiety, and apathy may persist, they will likely begin to improve during this time. If severe symptoms continue to occur multiple weeks after stopping the use of cocaine, a medical professional should be contacted.
Like with many addictions, cocaine detoxification may be best accompanied by therapy. This may include individual talk therapy, group classes that offer a supportive environment, or family counseling to help guide loved ones through this difficult experience. Talk therapy can help the addict identify the root cause of their addictive behavior and empower the former user with the strength to overcome their drug habit.
A therapy that many professional recovery organizations might employ is cognitive behavioral therapy. Not only does cognitive behavioral therapy have an incredibly successful track record, this type of talk therapy is an excellent long-term solution to help addicted individuals recover from their destructive behavior.
Get Help With Your Recovery From Apex Recovery San Diego
Choosing to break an addiction to cocaine and detox from the drug is an important first step in the recovery process and should be celebrated. If you or someone you know could use professional assistance during recovery, you are encouraged to reach out to Apex Recovery San Diego at 619.458.3435.