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Cocaine Detoxification

Understanding the process of cocaine detox is absolutely essential to determining the treatment requirements for yourself or your loved one. Detoxification is when the individual stops taking the drug and experiences a variety of symptoms caused by the body’s previous reliance on the substance. The majority of cocaine withdrawal symptoms don’t have especially dangerous consequences, but in more severe cases there is an inherent risk. This is largely as a result of the depression and intense cravings usually caused by cocaine withdrawal.

The withdrawal symptoms associated with the drug are a direct result of the effects of cocaine. The euphoric effect created by cocaine is a result of its impact on the neurotransmitter dopamine. This is the body’s primary reward chemical, which is used to motivate the individual to do things like eat, drink and have sex. The fact that these are absolute biological necessities shows the degree of the reward. The effects of cocaine arise because it breaks down the proteins which transport the neurotransmitter and thereby causes an abundance of the chemical within the brain.

Cocaine abuse – or any other drug abuse – forces the brain to adapt in order to deal with the now imbalanced chemicals. It has to reduce its dopamine production, and it also removes some of the receptors it binds to. This means that when an individual stops taking cocaine, depression is a natural consequence. Many cocaine users report feeling down after the effects of the drug wears off, and they experience an intense craving for more because the brain has come to associate cocaine with reward. This also leads the individual to lose their appetite when they are still taking the drug, because cocaine essentially takes the place of food.

The withdrawal symptoms caused by cocaine are largely psychological in nature, reflecting the neurological action of the drug. The absence of the food-replacement means that the individual’s appetite increases and the dopamine deficiency causes depression. Irritability, fatigue, insomnia and psychomotor retardation (the general slowing of movements from a psychological cause) are also common in cocaine withdrawal. Cravings are the most serious of the symptoms, because they further entrench the harmful associations between cocaine and feeling good, and overindulgence could lead to an overdose.

The most serious potential consequence of cocaine detox is suicidal thoughts, stemming from the depression most individuals feel. This means that drug rehab centres have to provide adequate psychological assistance for individuals going through cocaine withdrawal, and residential treatment (or consistent support from loved ones) is especially useful for managing cravings. Detoxification is the most difficult period when getting over cocaine addiction, but some of the symptoms (such as depression) can last for months. Co-existing mental health problems and other addictions can also present additional issues for cocaine detox.

Some medications can help during cocaine detox, and the drug rehab centre you choose should ideally offer some form of medical assistance. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines are often used to address the psychological symptoms of cocaine withdrawal, and drugs such as amantadine and bromocriptine are sometimes used to combat cravings. Although medical assistance isn’t a requirement, it can help immensely in more severe cases.

If you’re struggling to determine the best option for you or your loved one’s cocaine addiction, we can suggest the best centres for your circumstances. We’ll help you determine your requirements during and after cocaine detox, and we’ll answer any questions you have about treatment. Addiction isn’t easy for anybody concerned, and we’re here to help you. Get in touch with us today for some free, professional advice!


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