Cocaine Withdrawal

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), almost 5 million people 12 and older abused cocaine within the year before the 2012 survey.

Cocaine abuse is associated with many risks that include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritability.
  • Increased anxiety.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Restlessness.
  • Paranoia.
  • Severe cardiac issues.
  • Death.

The damage inflicted by cocaine and its associated effects can be seen in the number of emergency room visits and poison control calls. As reported by the DEA, in 2011, over 500,000 patients visited an emergency department for cocaine-related emergencies.

Due to the multitude of dangers associated with prolonged cocaine use, those who wish to reduce their risk need to stop using it. However, some may put off quitting indefinitely as it is associated with the onset of a withdrawal syndrome. This condition triggers unwanted symptoms that end the use and establish recovery uncomfortable and challenging for the individual. Luckily, there are programs to mitigate cocaine withdrawal discomfort, manage symptoms, and help to recover users kickstart their journey to sobriety.

What Is Cocaine Withdrawal?

How severe is cocaine withdrawal?

Variables that affect the severity of withdrawal from cocaine include:

  • The frequency of use.
  • The total duration of use.
  • The potency/ purity of the substance.
  • The existence of other mental or physical health conditions.
  • The duration of action, which is influenced by the route of administration (i.e., snorting, injecting, smoking, etc.).

Signs and Symptoms of Cocaine Withdrawal

Cocaine is often used in a binge and crash pattern, so withdrawal symptoms are commonly experienced by those who may not have yet decided to quit. Withdrawal from cocaine involves three distinct stages.

  • The crash. This occurs within 24 hours after a binge, or sustained period of high-intensity use ends. Someone during a cocaine crash may experience:
  • Lack of energy and motivation.
  • Increased hunger.
  • Extreme depression.

Withdrawal. The second phase will begin within a week of last use and can last for a total of 10 weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Low energy.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Changing moods.
  • Dysphoria (general feeling of dissatisfaction with life).

Extinction. This final stage can continue for six months. It will show a decrease in most symptoms. The symptoms of this phase include:

  • Some cravings.
  • Low mood.

There is some evidence to imply the presence of persistent impulse control deficits beyond four weeks of abstinence in previous cocaine users. Lingering impulse control problem might be part of a constellation of symptoms that would establish the phenomenon of a protracted cocaine withdrawal syndrome – or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Cocaine Detox

Detoxification refers to the management of any lingering effects of intoxication and any acute withdrawal symptoms present in a newly abstinent individual. Detox programs will evaluate and stabilize symptoms while building readiness for abstinence before transferring to ongoing substance abuse treatment. Detox alone is not considered an addiction treatment; instead, it the first step towards treatment.

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