What Is Cocaine?
After Cannabis, the next most commonly used drug in the UK is powder cocaine (otherwise known as Blow, Charlie, Dust, Flake, Sniff, Snow or White).
Cocaine is a Class A illegal drug which means it is a drug that can cause the most harm to either the user or society when it is misused.
Despite its dangers, cocaine addiction among the UK population continues to increase. Some people use the drug in a misguided attempt to enhance performance or meet an end goal. Since it temporarily decreases the need for sleep, other people will misuse cocaine in order to stay awake or alert for long periods such as studying or completing strenuous tasks.
Cocaine is usually snorted or rubbed into the gums. Less frequently it is combined with heroin and injected, or crystallised cocaine is heated and it’s vapours inhaled as crack cocaine.
Negative Side Effects & Symptoms Of Cocaine Misuse
Cocaine abuse has multiple side-effects:
- You may feel faint or sick
- It can make you sleepy and lethargic
- It can affect your memory
- It can make you feel confused, anxious or paranoid
- You may experience hallucinations or panic attacks
- It can make you hypersensitive to sight, sounds and touch
Risks of Cocaine Use
- People who use cocaine are increasing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, respiratory problems and infectious diseases
- People who misuse cocaine are more prone to heart, stomach and lung problems
- Long term cocaine abuse will often result in loss of smell, nosebleeds, respiratory ailments like asthma, or pneumonia; bowel issues, and higher risk of blood disease, if injecting.
- Those abusing cocaine are more likely to suffer from co-occurring substance abuse disorders, and complex mental health issues, such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and generalised anxiety disorder.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine Withdrawal & The Brain
Cocaine’s half life is very short, meaning it can leave the user’s body after as little as 1-2 hours following last usage.
Cocaine affects levels of dopamine, and other areas of the brain responsible for movement and reward mechanisms, increasing them beyond normal levels.
It is for this reason cocaine users often experience increased levels of motivation, creativity, and pleasure.
Cocaine can act as an antagonist in receptors which recycle dopamine back in to the brain, and thus the overall level of free dopamine is increased. However, over time, habituation occurs.
This means, the dopamine cycle in the brain reacts to accommodate the increased level of dopamine, by down-regulating the subsequent reactions in the brain that depend on dopamine.
This leaves users seeking more of the substance, to achieve the same dopamine excess, and feelings of euphoria. Later, when physical tolerance has developed, this increased desire for the drug is for the purpose of reducing withdrawal symptoms, as opposed to finding a new high.
Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
When ceasing intake, heavy cocaine users may also experience a “crash” – and the associated physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Cocaine withdrawal can begin as soon as a few hours since the last dose, and can last up to few weeks.
Physical cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- Fatigue, tiredness, lethargy
- Difficulty sleeping
- Agitation, restlessness
- Increased appetite, or a return of appetite which was absent during usage
- Disturbances in motor activity such as unconscious twitching, disturbed reflexes, and difficulty controlling movement
Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms
Cocaine withdrawal also manifests in psychological symptoms, including:
- Cocaine cravings and an increased desire to return to cocaine misuse
- Increased anger, irritability, irascibility, aggression
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Nightmares, and less often, night terrors
- Reduced focus, concentration, or cognitive ability, depending on duration and level of cocaine intake over time.
In more extreme cases, pre-existing mental health conditions can combine with psychological withdrawal symptoms resulting in suicidal ideation.
Again, in the heaviest users, excess cocaine intake may itself lead to secondary mental health disorders as it becomes increasingly difficult to separate what emotional issues precede the addiction, as opposed to those that occurred secondary to the addiction itself.
Psychological cravings can last for 10 weeks or longer in some cases, although this is often mediated by environmental triggers as opposed to physical or chemical withdrawal symptoms. It is at this stage of detox, when psychological withdrawal symptoms manifest, that those in recovery are most likely to return to substance abuse.
Cocaine Treatment: Detox > Rehab > Aftercare
How To Treat Cocaine Misuse?
Where cocaine misuse has become habitual over time, or it’s being used as a coping mechanism, while other areas of life get out of control – cocaine addiction usually responds best to structured, supervised help. Specialist drug rehab clinics can assist in detoxing and understanding the emotional drivers lying underneath the use of cocaine as a coping mechanism.
A full addiction treatment programme for cocaine abuse should also include appropriate positive supports for the future, beyond detox, that help to reinforce positive recovery wins, across all areas of life.
What Are The Cocaine Detox Options?
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms generally are dangerous, and the severity of symptoms experienced will vary depending on a number of factors including:
- Current and previous cocaine intake levels
- The duration of cocaine abuse over time
- The typical purity of the cocaine ingested
- Previous overdoses
- Pre-existing physical and mental health factors
- Co-occurring usage with other substances or alcohol intake
Therefore, for reasons of safety, self-detoxing from cocaine misuse is specifically NOT recommended.
Additionally, there are no specific medications designed exclusively for the purpose of cocaine detox.
Therefore, the safest and most comfortable way to detox is in a residential setting, where withdrawal and detox symptoms are managed as they arise, according to the individual.
Importantly, detoxing in a residential clinic allows the individual to simultaneously remove him(her)self from environmental triggers towards usage such as social peers, stressors at work or in relationships, to maximise the likelihood of successful detox completion, and later, rehabilitation.
Each individual’s detox duration will vary considerably depending on the detox factors above as well as level of intoxication upon arrival at a clinic.
Some may feel they have resolved any physical symptoms in a few days, for others it may take a few weeks or longer. However, detox cannot provide successful long term results without first understanding and resolving the lifestyle factors involved in the decision to use cocaine in the first place. In other words, detox alone is not a substitute for a full substance abuse recovery programme. Most will progress onwards from detox, into rehab.
Cocaine misuse is typically thought of more as a psychological addiction as opposed to chemical or physical one. This is not because of the nature of the addiction, or how users experience it, but instead what approach it typically responds best to, when attempting to recover.
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights multiple approaches that may be appropriate for cocaine addiction treatment, including:
- Negatively reinforcing usage behaviour with usage or relapse
- Clearly identifying triggers and environmental factors supporting usage, and seeking to eliminate them
- Psycho-educational work on the risks of relapse
- Identifying and utilising motivational factors to arrive at alternatives to substance misuse, in stressor situations.
- Identifying and addressing negative thought patterns, behaviours, and feelings, which give rise to cocaine misuse.
- Positively rewarding behaviour that seeks alternate coping mechanisms, and the rewarding the factors that enable that.
At Abbeycare, we believe all these factors are required for a comprehensive rehabilitation from cocaine, and we include all of these in our standard 28 day program:
- Structured therapeutic help using the above approaches to help you understand the causal emotional drivers behind cocaine misuse.
- Help to understand the trigger(s) that caused you to begin to use cocaine initially.
- Immersion in a mutual aid addiction program such as Cocaine Anonymous (CA) to support your ongoing addiction recovery via a sponsor, and strong peer-to-peer support.
- A personally assigned care manager, who looks after you throughout your rehab stay, lays out an individualised care plan for your treatment, and keeps you on track toward your goals, throughout your stay.
- Holistic therapeutic care, such as reflexology,. massage, or reiki, that help you explore alternative ways of dealing with stressors, both in the clinic, and beyond.
- Facilitated attendance at local Cocaine Anonymous groups, to ensure these positive supports become a habit, before you leave residential care.
- Personalised aftercare planning, as below.
Having a robust and easy to follow aftercare plan, is one of the most important factors in maintaining abstinence from cocaine, and achieving long term success, long after you leave a clinic.
Constructing an aftercare plan, means devising a positive support system, that helps you in your cocaine recovery journey, both on a practical day-to-day level, and also supports you emotionally, when needed.
Aftercare plans are focussed on the individual, and in many cases will take account of the learnings you’ve made to that point in the clinic, therapeutic gains, and personal insights you’ve had, along the way.
In Abbeycare, you’ll have the help of your assigned care manager, and collaboratively, you’ll take stock of what’s happened to that point, before designing a practical plan for long term recovery, that meets your needs. Of course, one of the biggest elements that determines your long term success, is your ability to follow through on the aftercare plans you make.
For this reason, we help you plan aftercare with as much detail as possible – the more detailed it is, the more likely you are to follow through.
- Is it possible to overdose on cocaine?
Yes, it’s possible to overwhelm brain receptors with a strong influx of cocaine, especially following a period of lower use or abstinence. Physical symptoms of overdose can include seizure, heart arrhythmia or heart attack, stroke, breathing difficulties, and vascular issues. An overdose can be fatal, depending on the severity of the secondary symptoms occurring.
- How long does it take to detox from cocaine?
Timescales vary from individual to individual and depend upon a number of factors, such as tolerance developed, recency and duration of cocaine use, long term use, and co-occurrence with other addictions or health issues. Most will be able to physically detox in around 14 days however this does not include addiction treatment, or rehabilitation, for which the normal treatment period is 28 days.
- What does cocaine detox feel like?
Most will experience a range of symptoms, including depression, anxiety, motor function disturbances, irritability, sleeplessness, increased appetite, and tiredness. The extent and duration of symptoms varies depending typically on the individuals’ current and past intake levels, tolerance level developed, co-occurring addictions, and pre-existing physical and emotional health factors.
- Can I detox myself from cocaine?
Self-detoxing, without medical assistance is specifically *not* recommended. Detoxing from cocaine can be dangerous, and result in life threatening issues such as seizure, respiratory issues, cardiac issues, and mental health symptoms including suicidal ideation. Always seek medical assistance, or a clinical admission with medical supervision, in the first instance, when considering detoxing from cocaine.
- What medication will I receive for detoxing from cocaine?
There is no specific detox medication dedicated to cocaine withdrawal. Detox in a residential clinic is managed on a supportive care basis, attending to cocaine withdrawal symptoms on an individual basis, as they arise.
- What happens once detox completes?
Most clinics will admit someone for cocaine treatment, including rehab, as opposed to detox alone. This means, that as soon as the physical/chemical detox from cocaine completes (or sometimes before), the individual will be invited to begin taking part in the therapeutic elements of the treatment. The timescales for when this happens will vary from one person to another. Most clinics have a daily agenda of therapeutic and other activities.
- How long does cocaine treatment take in the clinic?
Some will be able to successfully detox in as little as 14 days, however a period of 28 days in the clinic is the standard duration to maximise likelihood of positive long term outcomes. This enables full engagement in the therapeutic cocaine rehab programme to uncover and address the underlying psychological drivers which led to cocaine abuse in the first place.
- What does cocaine treatment cost?
Abbeybot below can provide pricing guidelines for our three UK clinics, for cocaine treatment admission. Please note that pricing and timescales of the most appropriate treatment for each individual is subject to assessment and approval by both our admissions and medical teams.
- I’m using multiple substances +/- alcohol, as well as cocaine, am I suitable for treatment?
Possibly, yes. We work with those struggling with multi-substance abuse every day. Each individual is assessed for suitability based on their personal pattern of addiction and circumstances, please speak with our admissions team for further advice.
- Can I return to low-use cocaine in the future, following treatment?
No. Generally, most clinics will expect you to remain abstinent in the future, as part of treatment. In this way, most programs are focussed on your understanding and resolving the underlying issues behind the addiction, to secure long-term abstinence.
- Where do you offer cocaine detox and treatment?