Cocaine is one of the most sought after illegal drugs in the world. Its strong chemical compositions have serious health hazards during use and after withdrawal. Its addictive compound originates from opioids which cause the user to become highly addicted.
The drug originates from cocoa leaves in South America which are used as a base ingredient in cocaine. As an illegal drug, it is usually mixed with a series of strong ingredients to fire up potency. Some of these include amphetamine and synthetic opioids. Cocaine withdrawal stems from increased levels of dopamine which the brain creates when it becomes dependent on the drug.
It is best to understand why cocaine has strong withdrawal symptoms in the first place. Cocaine is an addictive drug due to its function of increasing levels of dopamine in the brain circuit.
Dopamine in the brain helps regulate body movement, attention, learning and emotional responses. This is the complete cycle of motivation and reward. We strive toward something when we can feel achievement or see the final goal which will cause great pleasure. Low levels of dopamine can take out the energy and joy out of a person.
In a healthy body, dopamine in the brain is later sent back to the cell that originally sent it. This causes the signal between the nerve cell to shut off. Cocaine, however, prevents the dopamine from being sent back. In fact, cocaine causes large quantities of dopamine to be stored between two nerve cells which cancel their communication. It’s because of this that cocaine becomes such an addictive drug. The user develops a habit of dopamine excess reinforcement. Eventually, however, the reward circuit becomes aware of the overflow of dopamine and begins adapting, causing the user to hit more doses each time.
Cocaine withdrawal occurs when the euphoric feelings cease. The symptoms that begin to arise are:
Active users take the drug for prolonged periods of time in order to delay withdrawal symptoms. This, in the end, is more damaging to the person’s body.
Psychological symptoms are usually a much stronger sign of cocaine withdrawal rather than the physical ones. Occasionally certain people may get tremors, muscle aches, and chills, but it’s not always the case. Most of the psychological symptoms come from the brain which has been “reprogrammed” to cocaine dependency.
There are various factors that come into play with the particular stages in the withdrawal phase. Some of these factors are the length of time on the drug, the amount taken, what other substances were added to the drug, and the user’s psychological well-being. Some of these factors may speed up or worsen the withdrawal symptoms.
Cocaine withdrawal may commence a little over an hour after consumption. Depending on the person and the amount of cocaine intake over a long period of time; cocaine withdrawal symptoms can last from weeks to months or more.
Within the first day of withdrawal, the user may begin to experience a sense of anxiety and exhaustion. At this point, the user begins to note the body’s dependency on the drug and is seeking a high level of dopamine in the brain.
After the first week or so, a person will develop strong urges or cravings for cocaine. This urge will be apparent from psychological characteristics such as mood swings and a sense of depression. The person may feel like a mental compass in dire need of cocaine.
They will find it hard to concentrate on certain tasks, and function as a balanced person. Users are battling exhaustion but will have trouble sleeping.
If the user has allowed him or herself to stay clean up to this point, they will begin to notice that most of the symptoms are beginning to feel a lot less intense. They will begin to diminish with just minor instances of withdrawal symptoms.
The chart indicates that withdrawal symptoms can last a little less than three months. This is one of the most difficult achievements many recovering cocaine addicts have. Most people find it hard to stray away from cocaine for such a long time, especially people who have been hooked on it for years.
Most longtime cocaine users relapse due to the difficulty of not using for a long time. Users keep adding to their addictions as much as they possibly can in order to delay withdrawal symptoms. This can also cause users to try other drugs such as other opium and morphine.
Ridding the body of cocaine is a difficult process. This is why it is advised to get into a medical detox treatment program. The point of detox is to reduce the intensity of “the crash” that many people suffer during withdrawal. Quitting the drug abruptly can escalate these awful symptoms.
Detox ensures that the drug is completely eradicated from the person’s body. Toxins left behind from cocaine can have horrible effects on the body. Cocaine is cut by clandestine facilities that incorporate various components such as Strychnine, which is used to kill rats. A lot of these components don’t produce any psychoactive effects but are instead used to stretch the final product.
Medical detox allows the withdrawal process to flow in a more comfortable manner. Many doctors and trained professionals have acquired vast experience in order to deal with patients. Detox is not necessarily a 100% pleasant experience, but it is far better than going through the withdrawal process alone. This is necessary in order to be successful in getting clean.
Long-term drug users are the least likely to free themselves from drug addiction completely. They also struggle with the harshest withdrawal symptoms. Strong repercussions from months, years, even decades of use can and will leave long-lasting physical and psychological effects.
Part of detox treatments are addiction therapies that are adapted to every individual’s needs. This is helpful for people who seek personalized treatment. Therapy sessions help people treat their addictions and also their initial problems that caused addiction.
Aside from medically trained help, support from family and friends is also important. A healthy environment where people close to the patient know and support them can have positive effects. Many times, recovering addicts have a hard time dealing with their problems due to isolation and shame.
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The first step to a full recovery is finding a trustworthy place to help with your addictions. Qualified medical centers, such as the Arete Recovery, can offer a wide array of options that best suit the individual’s needs. Cocaine addiction and withdrawal are two problems that shouldn’t be dealt with alone.
Certain institutes offer many programs such as residential programs, where the patient may enter the program for 30 days or more (long-term). The patient stays at the recovery center with other patients and works with therapists and other trained medical staff members.
Outpatient programs are best for less severe cases of addiction and withdrawal. In these instances, the patient will visit the facility regularly during established hours. People receive high-quality care and support from the professional team without having to reside in the facility.
“Cocaine Withdrawal: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000947.htm
Hartney, Elizabeth, and Steven Gans. “Dangerous Hidden Ingredients in Cocaine.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-in-cocaine-21989
Hartney, Elizabeth, and Steven Gans. “What You Can Expect From Cocaine Withdrawal Syndrome.” Verywell Mind, Dotdash from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-expect-from-cocaine-withdrawal-21990
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Cocaine.” NIDA from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cocaine
“Disconnect between Brain's Dopamine System and Cocaine Addiction.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 10 Jan. 2019. from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110141803.htm