Cocaine, or coke, is a stimulant drug made from the coca plant, a plant native to South America. Cocaine is illegal in the United States, but over 15% of adults in the United States have used cocaine, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. This addictive recreational drug is usually inhaled, snorted, or injected into the vein. There are many psychological effects of cocaine use, including increased irritability, psychosis, paranoia, panic attacks, and withdrawal symptoms when users stop. Users also experience a few of these symptoms during the withdrawal period.
Cocaine withdrawal is non-life-threatening, but the process can be uncomfortable. During the withdrawal period, users often experience both psychological and physical symptoms. And general symptoms of withdrawal include but are not limited to, anxiety and depression, fatigue, nerve pain, muscle aches, increased hunger, increased craving for the drug, chills, and lack of energy. More serious symptoms include an increased risk of cardiac issues and seizures.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Cravings are the most common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. Most users, if not all, experience cravings at some point during their recovery phase, and cravings are one of the hardest symptoms to manage. One of the reasons users experience strong physical and mental cravings is surrounding themselves with other users and enablers.
Anxiety and Depression
Anxiety, depression, and irritability are common symptoms of cocaine withdrawal. Users often experience mood swings that can last upwards of 10 weeks. And the length of time users experiences these mood changes varies among users.
Fatigue and lack of energy
Many cocaine users experience extreme exhaustion. And the tiredness and low energy are usually caused by sleeplessness. When users are in the withdrawal stage, their sleep patterns change because they start experiencing insomnia and restlessness.
During the withdrawal stage, users also experience increased appetite. In fact, many users start bingeing on food when they stop using cocaine. The change in appetite is mainly due to users not eating properly while they were using and were high on the drug.
Nerve pain and muscle ache
Apart from psychological symptoms, users also experience some physical symptoms, such as nerve pains and muscle aches. The cause of nerve pains and muscle aches in cocaine users is unknown, but these symptoms are common among them.
Though there are currently no FDA-approved medications to help with cocaine withdrawal symptoms, there are strategies that can be used to help addicts better manage their symptoms. One of the steps addicts need to take to manage and reduce withdrawal symptoms is to seek help from behavioral therapists. In cognitive-behavioral therapy, users are provided with the tools and coping strategies needed to manage their symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been proven to be effective in supporting abstinence and relapse prevention among drug users. In addition to counseling, users can reduce their withdrawal symptoms by distancing themselves from fellow users and enablers or by leaving their environment entirely. Leaving an enabling environment will help in reducing cravings and the risk of possible relapses. If possible, addicts should consider checking into inpatient treatment facilities to avoid any temptations. Users who are in rehabilitation centers have little to no access to cocaine or other recreational drugs while in the center. Other steps addicts can take in reducing cocaine withdrawal symptoms include, but are not limited to, exercising regularly, getting enough rest, and eating healthy.
Cocaine addicts who are in the process of changing their habits experience mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. And those withdrawal symptoms range from increased appetite to seizures. While some users are able to control these symptoms, others with severe symptoms have difficulty managing their symptoms, especially without the help of a medical professional. Studies show that over 44% of addicts relapse due to their inability to manage withdrawal symptoms. Though there aren’t any medications available to treat withdrawal symptoms, there are currently many resources available for users. Aside from changing certain habits and overall lifestyle, users, who are in the process of recovering, should consider cognitive-behavioral therapy, joining support groups such as Cocaine Anonymous groups, or joining other available medical detox programs. If users are experiencing severe symptoms, they should consider checking into rehabilitation facilities to access 24/7 help.