Cocaine produces its side effects by stimulating the brain’s reward pathway, otherwise known as the mesolimbic dopamine system. This system of the brain is also stimulated by other reinforcing behaviors, such as food and sex. In addition to reinforcing pleasurable behaviors, this area of the brain also regulates emotions and motivation. Cocaine stimulates the brain’s reward pathway by activating the release of dopamine, then blocking the brain’s ability to recycle it. This floods the brain with dopamine, creating an energetic and euphoric high. If you’re currently battling a cocaine use disorder and want to find out how to detox from cocaine, our drug rehab in Illinois is offering some insight.
Cocaine affects the brain by increasing the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine enables neurons in your brain to communicate with each other. It also plays a role in movement, pleasure, and reward or reinforcing pleasurable behaviors, like drug abuse. Normally, after dopamine is sent from one neuron to the other, the excess that remains in the synapse (space between two neurons) is recycled back into the cell that released it, shutting off that signal. However, cocaine creates a powerful high by blocking dopamine from being recycled, causing large amounts of the chemical to build up in the synapse, stopping their normal communication.
This flood of dopamine in the brain’s reward pathway produces a pleasurable feeling, reinforcing drug-taking behaviors. A cocaine high is marked by side effects like extreme happiness and energy; mental alertness; hypersensitivity to light, sound, and touch; irritability; and paranoia. With continued cocaine use, the reward circuit adapts, and the body becomes more tolerant and less sensitive to the drug. As a result, users may take higher and more frequent doses in an attempt to feel the same high and obtain relief from withdrawal symptoms. Long-term cocaine abuse normally results in addiction, a disease characterized by uncontrollable drug use. Individuals with cocaine use disorders can find relief from this disease with the help of our cocaine treatment at Banyan Heartland.
Medically monitored detox or medical detoxification is a crucial first step in addiction recovery from drug or alcohol abuse. During medical detox, patients are monitored 24-hours a day as they’re slowly weaned off of drugs or alcohol. Medical staff may also administer medication as needed to alleviate patients’ symptoms. Withdrawing from drugs like cocaine can be dangerous. When withdrawing from cocaine, a person may experience symptoms like fatigue, restlessness, irritability, drug cravings, nightmares, chills, tremors, muscle aches, nerve pains, and more. Attempting to detox cocaine from your system alone or at home increases the risk of physical complications occurring.
Moreover, of the many symptoms that a person may experience when withdrawing from cocaine, an increased risk of suicide is the most alarming. Because cocaine is a stimulant, withdrawals are often marked by feelings of depression and mood swings, including suicidal thoughts. This is the result of a chemical imbalance. With regular cocaine use, the brain adapts to the elevated levels of dopamine. Over time, the reward pathway becomes less sensitive to this chemical. At that point, the individual may require more and more of the drug to feel good, and without it, they may feel extremely depressed. As a Banyan rehab in Gilman, Illinois, with experience in treating substance use disorders, we believe that the best detox for cocaine is with a medically monitored cocaine detox. Not only can this prevent any complications from occurring during withdrawal, but detox also reduces the risk of overdosing on cocaine or relapsing in the future.
The cocaine withdrawal timeline usually only lasts about 7 to 10 days. However, like many drugs, cravings for cocaine can last longer and develop suddenly, even years after the person has completed inpatient substance abuse treatment. How long cocaine withdrawal lasts also depends on factors like the drug’s half-life, how long the person has been using, the average dose used, and any co-occurring medical conditions. Individuals who have used cocaine for years are more likely to experience severe symptoms. In long-time users, cocaine withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as 90 minutes after the last dose.
Usually, the detox process should begin 8 to 12 hours after your last dose of cocaine. The first sign that you’re withdrawing is fatigue, which may then progress to lethargy, anxiousness, and excessive sweating. By the end of the first day, you may experience symptoms like nausea, trouble sleeping, difficulty concentrating, and loss of motor control. By the end of the third day, symptoms may become worse. Over the next few days, you’ll experience difficulty breathing and changes in blood pressure. Convulsions, tremors, and even hallucinations may occur, especially if you’ve used cocaine for years.
It’s at this point in cocaine detox that patients want to give up. Considering the physical and psychological symptoms that may occur, it’s understandable. However, it’s important for patients to get through this phase of treatment. The silver lining comes at the 5 to 7-day mark, which during this time, any remaining symptoms will feel like you have a bad flu. Eventually, you'll find yourself functioning better by the end of the first week. Again, keep in mind that the duration of detox depends on the duration of the person’s drug use. The longer you abuse cocaine, the longer it may take for you to detox.