Written by: Lee Spinks
Medically Reviewed by: Dr Mateen Durrani – MBBS, DPM, MSc, BCPsych
Last Updated: November 30th, 2022
Beginning your cocaine detox is a pivotal moment in your journey to recovery and marks the start of a fresh, clean life. Whilst the process may be daunting, this vital stage tackles the physical aspects of your cocaine use and lays the foundation for successful and sustainable rehabilitation.
Cocaine detox refers to the process of expelling cocaine from your system, and it is important for you to prepare for any side effects. On this page, we will outline the various withdrawal symptoms you may experience, how to cope with cocaine withdrawal, and the different treatment options available to you.
Cocaine’s potency is notable, with high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine building up in the brain when it is consumed, and in turn this stimulates our reward system. Our brain will consequently associate the drug with pleasure, eventually leading to the user wanting more and more.
The resulting effect will cause the brain to produce less dopamine naturally, as instead it becomes conditioned to cocaine feeding its dopamine levels. Soon the user will find that they need cocaine just to feel ‘normal’, and will experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms whenever they try to stop using it.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Lethargy and exhaustion
- Mood swings and irritability
- Anxiety and depression
- Issues with memory and concentration
- Panic attacks
- Cravings for cocaine
The severity of these symptoms will vary on an individual basis, depending on how much cocaine you usually take, the duration of abuse, and how you consume it.
The safest way to overcome cocaine withdrawal and detox is to attend a private facility where you will receive around the clock care and support.
The benefits of cocaine detox
Detoxing successfully from cocaine establishes the beginning of your recovery and lays a strong foundation for your onward journey. It is during this stepping stone that your body will expel harmful substances and begin healing.
Some of the benefits of cocaine detox include:
- Improved wellbeing
- Looking and feeling healthier
- Ability to rebuild relationships
- Ability to focus on work
Not only will you feel the satisfaction of overcoming the cocaine detox hurdle, but you will have gained the skills to take forward into other challenges that may come your way.
Cocaine detox timeline
Detoxing from cocaine can last from one to two weeks, with the length of detoxification depending on the severity of your use. Typically, you will observe the following timeline after halting the use of cocaine:
One to three hours after use
Cocaine has a short-lived effect and usually only lasts for ninety minutes. You may therefore face a ‘crash’ shortly after use. You may experience:
- Depression or anxiety
Three to five days after use
At this stage, withdrawal symptoms peak and you may experience acute and unpleasant side effects. These include:
- Cocaine cravings
- Depression and anxiety
- Body tremors and chills
- Insomnia and restlessness
It is important to stay hydrated and eat healthy foods to support your body’s needs during this time. If you can overcome these few days, you are over the detox hump!
One to two weeks after use
Withdrawal symptoms are likely to diminish at this stage, and whilst it is less physically demanding, you will still require a lot of willpower to overcome cravings. Emotional support is essential during this time as you may experience a lack of motivation to stay clean. Other symptoms at this stage include:
- Feelings of anhedonia (lack of pleasure)
It is crucial to hold on and complete this final hurdle in the cocaine detox process, focusing on looking forward to the healthy journey that is just around the corner.
In severe cases, depression and anhedonia can continue for weeks or months after your last use of cocaine. Cravings can also reappear months and sometimes even years after quitting. It is therefore important to find the right treatment and aftercare plan in order to give yourself the very best chance of success.
Managing your cocaine detox
Throughout your cocaine detox, and whilst you are experiencing any withdrawal symptoms, it is imperative that you are able to manage each day as it comes. Things you can do to make this stage easier include:
- Surrounding yourself with a support system – this can be under professional guidance or friends and family who keep you motivated.
- Nourishing your body with healthy foods and drinks to assist healing.
- Rebalancing dopamine and serotonin levels through regular exercise.
- Getting enough sleep to support your body’s restoration.
- Setting goals or taking up hobbies that keep you busy and take your mind off any withdrawal symptoms.
You should also bear in mind that the detox and withdrawal period is short, and as each new day comes, symptoms will soon fade and it will become easier.
Can I detox from cocaine at home?
Many people ask this same question, and a home detox may seem more appealing to you for several reasons – you’ll be surrounded by home comforts, you may feel ashamed about your drug use, you might be hesitant to talk to others about it, or you could be worried about the fees of private facilities. However, particularly in the case of cocaine, home detox is not recommended as it can be both challenging and unsafe to overcome cocaine detox without professional help.
Suddenly stopping your cocaine use, or going ‘cold-turkey’, may cause the onset of intense withdrawal symptoms, especially if you have been taking large amounts of cocaine over a long period of time. Under the pressure of withdrawal symptoms, many people relapse, and so the cycle begins again. Relapsing can have devastating effects, with the likelihood of overdose increasing at this stage as the bodily systems are unable to tolerate the same doses as before.
At Primrose Lodge, your cocaine detox process is supported by medical professionals who will make your withdrawal symptoms manageable. Our team will take the stress away from you, leaving you free to focus on your end goal of sobriety. The temptation to relapse will be lessened in an environment away from your usual triggers, and this gives you a better opportunity to safely detox.
Supporting a loved one’s cocaine detox
Going through the cocaine detox period is arguably the most difficult part of recovery, and watching a loved one suffer through withdrawal symptoms can be distressing. You may feel helpless, worried, or guilty and often afraid that they might relapse or that their withdrawal symptoms worsen. You most likely want to support them in any way you can but might not know how. There are some things that you can do to help your loved one through cocaine detox, including:
- Help them to plan a cocaine detox to ensure their safety throughout
- Stay positive and supportive
- Remind yourself and your loved one that the detox period is short – take it day by day
- Organise fun activities to look forward to
- Encourage your loved one to write down their goals for each day
- Attend family counselling sessions
It is also important to remember that the cocaine detox is only the beginning of their recovery – they will need your continued love and support as they battle through the next stages.
Help for cocaine detox
Getting cocaine detox help may feel challenging initially, but it is going to free your body from a substance that holds you back from getting the best out of life. After completing detox, you may feel empowered to walk the road to recovery and embark on a new beginning.