Cocaine, also known as coke, is a highly addictive, fast-acting nervous system stimulant. It is an illegal drug that is used recreationally. Cocaine is made from the leaves of a plant that is native to South America, called the coca plant.
There are several ways an individual ingests cocaine (e.g. inhaled as smoke, snorted, eaten, and/ or injected intravenously). The way the substance works in one’s body is by sending increased levels of dopamine (a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells) to areas of the brain that reign pleasure and the excess buildup of dopamine elicits feelings of energy, alertness, and euphoria. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies cocaine as a Schedule II Substance, which is defined as a drug “with a high potential for abuse with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Most individuals who abuse cocaine will require some form of detox to end his or her cocaine abuse.
Detox is the process that rids one’s body of all foreign substances. There are a variety of detox methods available, each provides varying levels of support (e.g. unsupervised detox, supervised detox, medically supervised detox, and medically assisted detox). There are several factors that will contribute to one’s detox experience, including:
- The duration of abuse
- The amount of cocaine taken
- The purity and potency of the cocaine abused
- The frequency of abuse
- If the individual simultaneously abused additional substances
- The personal health history of the individual
With every detox process, an individual will experience withdrawal symptoms. Although the physical withdrawal symptoms that manifest during detoxing from cocaine are rarely life-threatening, due to the highly addictive nature of the substance, undergoing a medically supervised detox is advised.
When an individual has habitually abused cocaine, his or her body becomes accustomed to functioning with it present, and when the substance is absent from one’s system it will react accordingly. Withdrawal symptoms occur due to the lack of the abused substance in one’s system. There are a number of different withdrawal symptoms that an individual going through cocaine detox may experience. Some examples that an individual may exhibit include any combination of the following, as provided by the Mayo Clinic:
- Erratic sleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Excessive hunger
- Night sweats
- Suicidal thoughts
Every person is different and may experience a different combination of the above symptoms, with varying levels of severity.
Cocaine has a relatively short half-life, and usually leaves one’s body within ninety minutes after ingestion.
- Phase one: also known as “the crash” stage, can begin as soon as 60 minutes after one’s last dose and can last up to several days. Commonly reported examples of withdrawal symptoms from cocaine during this stage include nausea, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and irritability. Relapse is also highly common due to the intensity of adverse symptoms.
- Phase two: also known as “the withdrawal” stage, occurs right after phase one and can last up to ten weeks long. While physical withdrawal symptoms begin to subside during this stage, strong cravings for cocaine persist.
- Phase three: also known as “the extinction” stage, after ten weeks most withdrawal symptoms will have completely dissipated, but an individual may experience intermittent cravings for the following several months.
Depending on the individual, cocaine detox could last anywhere from a few weeks long to several months, and in some cases longer.
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