Cocaine Detox

Cocaine Detox

Cocaine is a brain stimulant that increases the amount of dopamine (a feel-good chemical) in the brain. When a person abuses cocaine, the increased amount of dopamine causes a person to experience a euphoria or high, according to the National Institutes of Health. 1

Cocaine detox is the first step towards recovery and living a life free from cocaine use. Although cocaine detox doesn’t cause potentially deadly symptoms in most people, it can be very difficult going through the detox process. As a result, many individuals turn to professional drug detox organizations to help them navigate through cocaine detox symptoms.

What Happens During a Cocaine Detox?

While cocaine is short-acting (usually for an hour at the most), if abused regularly, withdrawal effects will occur when use stops. This is because the brain is accustomed to having the flood of dopamine on a regular basis. The withdrawal symptoms are usually the exact opposite of the effects of the drug.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine detox include2:
  • Chills
  • Depression
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling very hungry
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Trouble sleeping well
  • Unpleasant dreams
While these are not necessarily life-threatening symptoms, they can cause a person to relapse and return to drug abuse. Once detox begins, tolerance is typically reduced, resulting is a possible miscalculation during a relapse. The result can be a potentially deadly overdose.

Three Phases of Cocaine Detox

Researchers from the Australian Government Department of Health have identified three common phases associated with cocaine detox. 4 These may happen as fast as 90 minutes after a person stops using cocaine. These phases include:

  • Phase One: A person experiences a “crash” after stopping using cocaine. Immediate symptoms may include irritability, tiredness, and anxiety.
  • Phase Two: This phase is the true withdrawal phase associated with cocaine detox and can sometimes last as long as 10 weeks. During this phase, a person may experience symptoms that include cravings for cocaine, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and irritability.
  • Phase Three: Some people may be in the third phase of the cocaine detox for some time. During this phase, a person may experience cravings for cocaine from time to time. However, the longer a person stays sober, the more likely they are to stay sober for a lifetime.

The three-phase experience illustrates why it is important to seek rehabilitation for the initial detox process as well as the importance of long-term aftercare in recovery from cocaine addiction.

What Are Cocaine Detox Services?

Many cocaine detox programs offer special services based on research related to cocaine abuse. Some of the therapies commonly offered to help a person go through cocaine detox and stay sober afterwards include: 2

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This therapeutic approach involves helping a person identify their cravings and behaviors that led to substance abuse. A therapist can help a person learn how to deal with these cravings as well as strategies to reduce stress.
  • Complementary Therapies: Complimentary Therapys are typically used alongside traditional therapies. Complementary therapies include activities like yoga, adventure therapy, horticulture therapy or acupuncture along with many others.
  • 12-step programs: 12-step programs are group therapy programs that incorporate mentorship, education, and participation to help a person stay sober.

Currently, there are no FDA-approved medications that help a person reduce their symptoms associated with cocaine detox. However, there is significant research currently taking place regarding several medications that are available on the market. Examples of these include:

However, doctors in a rehabilitation program may prescribe medications, such as anti-depressants, to help reduce the incidences of depression in those recovering from cocaine addiction.