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5 minutes

Managing Withdrawals from Coke: Detox, Symptoms, and Addiction Treatment

Medically Reviewed
Last Medically Reviewed on: June 24, 2022
A group session at drug rehab.

Written by

Kevin Lang

Updated on

21 Jun, 2022

Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug known to increase one’s level of alertness, attention, and energy.

Derived from the coca plant, native to South America, cocaine has been utilized for certain valid medical purposes by health care providers. However, it is most commonly abused recreationally.

In addition, using cocaine is illegal, and thus, many people will partake in dangerous endeavors to obtain the drug. Other names for cocaine include coke, snow, rock, blow, and crack.

As a street drug, cocaine comes in fine, powder form. Often, cocaine is mixed with other drugs, such as stimulant amphetamine or opioids, including fentanyl, to increase profits. Adding synthetic drugs to cocaine is extremely risky as it substantially increases overdose deaths among users.

Because this drug is highly addictive and destructive by nature, it is extremely important that anyone who is abusing this drug seeks help immediately.

Understanding the impact of cocaine on the brain, navigating withdrawals from coke during detox, and seeking help for drug abuse are essential steps toward achieving sobriety.

How Cocaine Use Affects the Brain

Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for controlling movement and reward. When dopamine is working optimally, it will recycle back into the cell that released it.

However, during cocaine use, dopamine is unable to be recycled, thus creating large amounts of buildup between nerve cells and stopping their normal communication. This buildup creates a “high,” or intense feelings of energy and alertness.

Prolonged cocaine use can create a tolerance to the drug, meaning that the person using it becomes less sensitive to the dopamine “high” and needs larger amounts to feel its effects.

This leads to a cycle of needing more of the drug to achieve the same high and avoid the unpleasant effects of cocaine withdrawal symptoms.

Side Effects of Cocaine Use

In addition to its effects on the brain, cocaine use creates a myriad of short and long-term health side effects for the individual abusing this drug.

Short-term Side Effects Of Using Cocaine

  • Extreme energy and happiness
  • Irritability
  • Hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch
  • Mental alertness
  • Paranoia (extreme, fearful distrust of others)
  • Unpredictable and violent behavior

Other Health Complications of Cocaine

  • Raised body temperature and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea
  • Constricted blood vessels
  • Tremors and muscle twitches
  • Restlessness

Long-term Health Effects of Cocaine

Side effects can depend on the method of use and can include:

  • Smoking: cough, respiratory distress, pneumonia, asthma
  • Snorting: nosebleeds, runny nose, loss of smell, issues with swallowing
  • Needle injection: skin or soft tissue infections, scarring or collapsed veins, higher risk of getting HIV, hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases
  • Consuming by mouth: bowel decay as a result of reduced blood flow

The effects of using cocaine can appear almost immediately and disappear within a few minutes to an hour. Additionally, a person can overdose and die from using cocaine.

Severe Health Consequences of Cocaine Overdose

  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Heart attacks
  • Seizures
  • Strokes
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Extreme agitation
  • Anxiety

Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms Experienced from Cocaine Use

As with any drug, cocaine poses a risk of addiction, especially with repeated use. Many people addicted to cocaine may continue taking the drug to avoid the withdrawal symptoms experienced from detoxing. Withdrawal symptoms often experienced when detoxing off cocaine are similar to those experienced during nicotine cleansing and may include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Slowed thinking
  • Restlessness
  • Depressed mood
  • Physical craving for cocaine
  • Inability to experience sexual arousal
  • Slowing of activity
  • Physical fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Nightmares
  • Chills
  • Tremors
  • Muscle aches
  • Nerve pain

Cravings and depression can last for months after detoxing off cocaine. That’s why it is essential to seek help and support during withdrawal. This could be from a professional medical doctor specializing in addiction or an inpatient/intensive outpatient drug rehab. If the person using cocaine is suffering from co-occurring mental health disorders, a comprehensive inpatient treatment plan can effectively address both.

The withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person depending on:

  • The length of time cocaine was used: If cocaine was abused for a relatively short period, withdrawal symptoms might be short, usually resolving within 7-10 days after the last use. However, if someone has abused cocaine for years, they may have lingering withdrawal symptoms for weeks and even months after the last use (especially psychological effects, such as depression and anxiety).
  • Amount of cocaine used: People who abused larger amounts of cocaine may experience more intense withdrawal symptoms than someone who used much less.
  • If other drugs were abused along with cocaine: If someone developed a dependence on more than one drug, they would potentially feel withdrawal symptoms from detox more intensely.
  • Any co-occurring medical or mental health issues: If the person abusing cocaine also has another underlying mental health issue, such as depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, or personality disorder, the withdrawal process may be more complicated.
  • What environment the cocaine was abused in: If someone abused cocaine to escape a stressful environment, or stress factors such as relationship or work issues, then the cravings for a return to cocaine may be more intense, as they may want to continue coping from these stressors.

Addiction Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

Since cocaine is a powerfully addictive substance, it takes immense support to start walking on the path of sobriety, especially in the first couple of months when the cravings are the most intense.

One of the most beneficial and proven tools for long-term sobriety is going to an inpatient drug rehab facility. Through this experience, someone suffering from substance abuse can eliminate outside distractions and solely focus on sobriety. This greatly increases the chances of maintaining sobriety when transitioning out of rehab.

Inpatient rehabs that include medically guided detox, support groups, and counseling provide the most holistic, well-rounded approach to lasting sobriety. If one does not get to the root of why they are using cocaine in the first place, the likelihood of returning to the drug is much greater.

This is especially true if the person is triggered by an emotion that caused the use of coping with the drug in the first place. Furthermore, a person’s health and safety are monitored in inpatient drug rehab environments, thus creating a sense of peace while detoxing.

The time to get sober is now. Don’t let another moment pass you by if you are struggling with a cocaine addiction. You deserve the support and guidance needed to endure any trials that may come your way while walking out the path of sobriety.

We offer Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas rehab services and accept clients from Texas and across the country. Reach out today, and a friendly enrollment advisor will gladly discuss your options and how to get you the help you deserve.

Sources:

Infinite Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial guidelines and medical review policy.

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Cocaine DrugFacts. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published April 8, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Fentanyl. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published June 6, 2016. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/fentanyl
  3. Cristol H. What Is Dopamine? WebMD. Published June 14, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine
  4. Patafio M. Cocaine: How It Works, Effects, and Risks. WebMD. Published February 9, 2021. Accessed June 24, 2022. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/cocaine-use-and-its-effects

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