Cocaine Withdrawal Detox Program in Maine
Cocaine addiction is a particularly insidious problem due to the rapid rate of physical dependence. The drug is a powerful stimulant that can alter thinking and fuel further use, exacerbating the individual’s cravings. The narcotic causes a brief but intense high, which drives people to use it more frequently. This loop fuels the brain’s perceived need for the drug, driving riskier actions and use that leads to addiction.
Cocaine use is different from many other narcotics because the physical signs of use and withdrawal are not as apparent as other equally addictive substances. Many cocaine users believe that the lack of tremors, physical illness, and pain they experience if they go days without using means they are not addicted.
This is deceptive because the extent of cocaine’s psychological effect is profound. Recovering from a cocaine use disorder requires breaking dependence by detoxing, addressing the underlying factors that fueled the addiction, and building a framework for sobriety.
Attempting this process on your own can be dangerous and discouraging. People often conclude their inability to stop using on their own reflects negatively on them. That toll on one’s self-esteem then fuels the addiction cycle.
If you or a loved one are experiencing problems with cocaine use, reaching out to trained professionals is the best way to begin your path to recovery. Safely detoxing from cocaine and treating the addiction is best accomplished with supervision and guidance.
The Effects of Cocaine on Your Body
Every drug causes changes to the body. Cocaine is particularly addictive because of the alterations it causes in the brain. Studies have shown the drug modifies the neurotransmission of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that influences the body’s reward pathway. Cocaine’s interaction with the brain is responsible for the intense emotions users feel, which then fuel increased use.
In addition, cocaine rewires the way your body responds to stress, making users crave the drug during heightened situations. Long-term use of cocaine affects the orbitofrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls decision-making and impulse control. As cocaine use progresses, this can lead to increasingly erratic, reckless, and dangerous behavior.
Physically, long-term cocaine use can affect the heart, changing the cardiac rhythm or compromising the heart muscle. Unaddressed cocaine addiction can result in lung damage, convulsions, or seizures. Depending on how you consume cocaine, it can also cause tissue damage to the nose and mouth.
Treating Cocaine Use Disorders
According to the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 1.3 million Americans had a cocaine use disorder over the previous 12 months. The narcotic is particularly dangerous because its purity cannot be determined, exposing users to the risk of fatal overdoses. Dealers often mix the drug with other toxic, harmful, and addictive substances before the user has the cocaine in their possession.
Researchers and behavioral health specialists have developed strong programs for managing substance use disorders. Every treatment program requires addressing both physical dependence and addiction.
After you start using cocaine, your body begins to develop tolerance as it adjusts to the narcotic’s presence. Depending on the frequency and dose, your tolerance builds, and you’ll need higher amounts at smaller intervals to achieve the same effects. The increasing levels of cocaine then begin doing the job of neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring chemicals that help your brain cells communicate with each other.
Once cocaine has altered your neurochemistry, your body craves it to maintain its equilibrium because the natural production of the neurotransmitters slows or stops. Dependence occurs when your body believes it needs cocaine to function normally. Cocaine causes rapid and intense crashes, particularly in people with elevated tolerance. Once you go too long without the drug, either by choice or outside circumstances, your body begins craving it.
While dependence is the physical component of substance use disorders, addiction is the psychological or behavioral component. Once your dependence leads you to take uncharacteristic actions that negatively impact your relationships, schooling, job, or legal standing, you are addicted.
This may mean withdrawing from certain friends, neglecting assignments, or chronic absenteeism from work. Addicted individuals orient their life around their cocaine use. You may experience obsessive thoughts about how and when you will obtain and consume the drug. Once your cocaine use begins impacting your behavior, it’s necessary to address it as an addiction.
Withdrawal and Detox
Withdrawal occurs when your body reacts to the absence of cocaine. The neurobiology of dependent individuals is adapted to cocaine’s presence in their system. Once the cocaine is filtered from the body, the brain believes something is wrong. This triggers an intense craving. You’ll be especially prone to relapse in the initial phase of withdrawal, which contributes to the difficulty of quitting cocaine. Structured treatment programs can provide the tools to help mitigate the risk factors.
The physical symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are generally milder than the psychological symptoms. Most people experience body aches, tremors, and involuntary motor movements for just the first few days after they stop using. These effects usually go away within a day or two. The rapid onset of physical withdrawal symptoms contributes to cocaine’s high addiction risk.
The psychological symptoms are more pronounced due to cocaine’s unique effect on neurochemistry. The symptoms are difficult and potentially dangerous to manage on your own. Cocaine is an extremely challenging drug to safely detox from without help.
Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:
• Inability to concentrate
• Irritability and hostility
• Hypersomnia and insomnia
• Slowed physical activity and dampened thinking
• Vivid dreams or nightmares that exacerbate insomnia
• Depression and anxiety
• Suicidal thoughts or actions
• Intense cravings for cocaine and obsessive thoughts about the drug
You can be dependent without exhibiting all of these symptoms. Complete withdrawal from cocaine usually takes about two weeks. The timeline varies from person to person based on their biochemistry, level of use, and environmental factors. Pre-existing behavioral health conditions or concurrent addictions exacerbate symptoms.
Treatment and Recovery
A comprehensive cocaine withdrawal detox program is the best way to manage both the physical and psychological symptoms you’ll experience when you stop using cocaine. Each patient will experience distinct withdrawal symptoms.
Providers can tailor a treatment program to meet your needs and position you for recovery. Depending on the extent of your symptoms, nature of your addiction, and recovery goals, inpatient or outpatient detox may be better. Being open and honest with the intake counselor will help you formulate the optimal recovery plan.
Managing Withdrawal and Detox
Once you are dependent on a substance, withdrawal is a necessary part of recovery. While the physical symptoms are easily manageable in almost all cases of cocaine addiction, support is critical for managing the psychological symptoms.
By creating a dopamine build-up, cocaine essentially rewires the brain’s normal neural pathways. By suppressing healthy neurotransmitter production, you are left without a reward system during the initial phase of detox. Due to the intense crash caused by cocaine withdrawal, many people experience depressed thoughts and suicidal thinking. Attempting to detox alone leaves you particularly vulnerable as you navigate your body’s reorientation to the absence of cocaine.
Supervised withdrawal, whether inpatient or outpatient, is important for detox because professionals help you manage potentially obsessive thoughts. They help keep you safe by addressing the underlying causes of thoughts of self-harm.
In rare instances, an individual may be at risk for cardiac complications due to spasms in the heart muscles. Your provider will assess you for risk factors when creating your treatment plan. If necessary, they can arrange a medically supervised detox that may include partial hospitalization.
Based on your individual needs, you may benefit best from:
• Residential treatment in which you live on-site under the supervision of a staff of behavioral health professionals. They help you manage the psychological effects of withdrawal to help you effectively detox. Treatment also focuses on creating a structure and foundation for treating your addiction
• Intensive outpatient programs where you live on your own, usually in a communal setting, and follow a rigid course of visits with behavioral health specialists. They focus on supporting you as you move past cocaine dependence. You and your provider work to build the tools to abstain from cocaine and address your addiction issues.
• Community outpatient programs in which you remain at your current residence are less intense than other more structured outpatient programs. You visit a counselor and use community resources, like self-help and 12-step programs, to begin addressing your addiction issues.
The extent of your dependence, risk factors, and past experiences will influence which form of detox and treatment is best suited for your situation.
While there is no medicine to handle the specific effects of cocaine withdrawal, doctors can use medications to treat depression and anxiety if they persist through the initial days of detox. Stabilizing your mood with these medications requires professional supervision, but the effects can help you navigate recovery and begin moving forward. Supervised detox ensures the medications are effective and that they don’t lead to other addictive behaviors or adverse side effects.
Behavioral health professionals help you process emotions and understand your cocaine use. Talk therapy, group therapy, support groups, and other interventions help you delve into the factors that drove your use and addiction. These insights will inform your recovery and help you build the support system and pathway for your sobriety. Your treatment will include a variety of interventions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focuses on skills development. You’ll work with a counselor to learn to identify your behaviors, triggers, and risk factors for cocaine use. Together, you’ll develop strategies and new behaviors to respond to situations and maintain your sobriety.
Contingency management is another behavioral therapy that uses motivational incentives. Your program may include a voucher or reward system in which you earn credit during the initial stages of recovery for continued cocaine abstinence. As you progress, your credits are exchanged for healthy rewards that help support your overall recovery. This process helps rebuild the brain’s pleasure-reward system so you can move toward healthy motivators.
Cocaine Detox and Treatment at Liberty Bay Recovery Center
If you are questioning your or a loved one’s cocaine use, that’s a likely indicator of disordered use. While detoxing from cocaine may seem daunting, the professionals at Liberty Bay Recovery will collaborate with you to determine the right treatment program.
Based on a full assessment and open dialogue, we will tailor a program that fits your needs to maximize the effectiveness of therapy and help you begin building the tools for sustained sobriety.