Cocaine is a powerful stimulant derived from the coca plant. People have chewed the leaves of the plant for thousands of years, and purified cocaine hydrochloride – also known as powder cocaine – was isolated more than a century ago. Today, cocaine is commonly known as a ‘party drug’.
Cocaine use can be dangerous and harmful to both physical and mental health, however. It is also known to be extremely addictive, and repeated use can alter brain structure and function.
When you develop a cocaine dependency, your system comes to depend on it and adjusts to its presence. When you stop using the drug, this can result in a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. The process of metabolising the toxic elements of cocaine from the system is known as detoxification or the cocaine detox process.
Understanding Cocaine and Its Effects on the Body
Cocaine produces its effects mainly by acting on the brain’s limbic system, which is involved in regulating pleasure and motivation. Using it produces a flood of the ‘feel-good’ chemical dopamine, producing an intense feeling of euphoria.
Some of the feelings and effects that people seek out with cocaine include:
- Increased sex drive
- Suppressed appetite
Some of the less desirable short-term effects of cocaine include:
- Constricted blood vessels
- Dilated pupils
- Increased body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure
- Mood swings
- Unpredictable behaviour
At the more severe end of the scale, people can experience cardiovascular effects, including irregular heartbeat and heart attacks and neurological effects, including headaches, seizures, strokes, and coma. Cocaine overdose can be fatal.
The high from cocaine lasts a relatively short time, typically lasting between 20-40 minutes. However, for some, the effects of this substance can linger for a couple of hours. Cocaine problems often begin because people chase this high, trying to recreate the feelings of euphoria and confidence. As they use it more often, they can build up a tolerance, meaning they need to use more and more of the drug for the same effect. At the same time, continued use can essentially rewire parts of the brain and how it deals with things like pleasure and reward. Eventually, other things that used to bring pleasure can fade away as securing and taking cocaine becomes more important than friends, loved ones and other interests.
If you do try to stop using cocaine at this point, you are likely to face withdrawal symptoms as you detox. All these factors together can make it very difficult to quit cocaine without expert help.
How Long Does It Take To Detox From Cocaine?
Cocaine detox duration can vary from one individual to the next, depending on a number of factors. In general terms, though, the process can be divided into three distinct stages:
This is also known as the crash or comedown and involves the immediate aftermath of using cocaine as the artificial energy and euphoria produced by the drug fade away.
Symptoms experienced could include:
- Sore jaw (from clenching)
- Intense cravings for cocaine
- Psychosis (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there)
- Dysphoria (a profound sense of unease or dissatisfaction)
These symptoms may start within a couple of hours of last taking cocaine and can last for several days. At this point, you will technically have detoxed as the drug has left your system, but withdrawal symptoms can remain as your system continues to adjust to the removal of the drug.
This period can last for up to two weeks after the last use of the drug. It can involve extreme fatigue with the continuation of some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms, such as depression and anxiety.
Some people may experience prolonged withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue and depression that can last for months. They can also experience strong cravings during this phase.
Factors Influencing Cocaine Detox Duration
There are a number of factors involved in answering the question, ‘How long does it take to detox from cocaine?’ The heaviness and duration of use will certainly play a part, but metabolism and overall health may also play a part.
Substance misuse and mental health issues can also share a complex relationship, each affecting the other to varying degrees. Where addiction and mental health conditions exist at the same time, this is referred to as dual diagnosis. It is important to treat both elements at the same time, as failing to address one part of the equation could lead to relapse in the other further down the line. If there is a dual diagnosis, this could make treatment more complicated and potentially prolong some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms.
How to Detox From Cocaine
If you stop taking cocaine, you will naturally start to detox as your body expels and metabolises the toxic and active elements of the drug. As already noted, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms if you are a regular user or have developed a cocaine dependency.
If you’re wondering how to detox from cocaine safely and more comfortably, it might be worth seeking professional help. If you have a problem with cocaine, up to and including addiction, it is also worth considering a holistic treatment such as rehab. This will not only help you to get through the detox and deal with symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. It will help you to address every aspect of your addiction, including the root causes of your substance misuse.
Support and Treatment During Cocaine Detox
When trying to undergo detox at home, there is always the temptation to make the cravings and withdrawal symptoms stop by going back to the drug. A supervised detox at rehab or a similar clinic setting will put you in a safe, secure environment away from your usual triggers, temptations and contacts.
As well as expert support, there may be prescription medications that can help with some withdrawal symptoms if considered appropriate. A supervised detox or simply seeking support from professionals on how to stop taking cocaine may also help with getting through this very challenging process.
Get Help Today
At Cassiobury Court, we can offer a supervised, medically assisted cocaine detox as well as holistic treatment that can help you address your addiction and regain control over your life again. If you are worried about your own cocaine use or that of a loved one, please get in touch today to find out how we can help.