According to the United Nations, approximately 17 million people worldwide used cocaine in 2012. In the United States, cocaine contributes to about 6,000 deaths each year. Cocaine, an illegal substance and stimulant that raises levels of dopamine in the brain, is often sought out because of its ability to produce euphoric moods, high energy and happiness.
However, these high-flying feelings mask more serious side effects of the drug including mood swings, paranoia, psychosis, panic attacks, depression, pain and dysphoria. Users’ heart rates increase, blood pressures raise and the possibility of heart attacks grows exponentially. Habitual users can show signs similar to schizophrenia. Anyone who uses cocaine and has become either physically or mentally addicted along with negatively impacted themselves and those around them with their addiction should seek help. Detox becomes necessary before the next hit becomes their last.
1. What is cocaine detoxification?
Cocaine detox is a medically supervised period of cocaine withdrawal in which a doctor or medical professional will give the individual seeking help medication to counteract symptoms. At the present time, no proven pharmacologic therapy for cocaine addiction exists, but several medications do help aid in withdrawal symptoms ranging from depression to anxiety. It is important to realize that cocaine itself causes psychological dependence, due to its ability to rearrange and impact dopamine release and levels in the brain.
2. What happens during a cocaine detoxification program?
Because there is no medical detox process for cocaine use—unlike alcohol abuse—doctors and medical professionals dealing with the addicted individual will perform inquiries and determine the best options for detoxification.
When a patient enters a cocaine detoxification program, the timeline can vary, but, generally:
- Within the first few hours: Individual enters detoxification unit and has an initial clinical assessment to determine the best treatment approach. The doctor asks questions regarding medical history, how often the individual uses cocaine, current living situation and home environment.
- After initial assessment: The doctor will possibly prescribe antidepressants, beta-blockers, and/or anti-anxiety medications to lessen the psychological effects of cocaine.
- Symptoms begin: For long-term users, symptoms from cocaine withdrawal can begin within a few hours of the last hit. For less intense users, symptoms may not occur for 24 hours or longer.
- Stabilization: Because cocaine is often cut with other drugs, medical professionals will monitor the individual seeking treatment for any complications. Psychological withdrawal symptoms will lessen after the first week; physical withdrawal may only last four to five days.
3. What are the most common cocaine withdrawal symptoms?
Once an individual decides to remove cocaine from their lives, there will be withdrawal symptoms—both physical and mental. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- extreme cravings for the drug
- nausea & vomiting
- mood swings
- exhaustion & fatigue
Some users also report formication—the feeling of a crawling sensation on the skin also known as “coke bugs.” The symptoms, although they will lessen over time that the individual is not using, can continue for days, weeks, and in some severe cases, months.
To help combat such symptoms, medical professionals can prescribe an assortment of medications. Anti-depressant desipramine as well as stimulants including pemoline and methylphenidate have all been used to prevent psychiatric episodes. Carbmazepine and similar drugs have also been used to help curb cravings. To steady heart rate, anxiety and similar reactions to withdrawal, beta-blockers are often prescribed.
4. What kinds of treatment facilities are available?
Because of the addictive nature of cocaine, rehabilitation takes place in either inpatient or outpatient facilities.
The main difference between inpatient and outpatient facilities is that inpatient addiction treatment requires the person to check into the facility and remain there for the length of the program—anywhere from 28 to 90 days. Outpatient treatment centers are provided for patients to visit, but not stay; they often remain at home, but are required to check in with the addiction specialists for medication and counseling. Both can be successful, but for more serious addictions, inpatient programs are best.
Generally, detoxification and rehabilitation for cocaine takes place in residential treatment programs, which can last anywhere from one month to one year. These programs operate on a strict structure and begin with initial detoxification. They may also utilize nutritional monitoring, vitamin supplements and medication if necessary. Detox can also take place in hospital or medical clinic based programs, which offer both drug detoxification and rehabilitation on an inpatient basis.
5. How long does cocaine detox typically last?
Depending on the individual, cocaine detox can last anywhere from three days to more than one week. Factors like how long the patient has abused the drug, family history and severity of withdrawal symptoms will all impact how long detoxification takes. Inpatient monitoring for medical complications will continue until the patient reaches a point of stabilization. The length of time for monitoring and stabilization will vary based on how long the patient has abused cocaine along with any co-occurring medications or disorders. After the detoxification, any physical dependence on cocaine has passed; mental and emotional dependence, however, remain, which, in the case of cocaine, are the most difficult parts to overcome.
6. What happens after detox is completed?
Once detoxification has been completed and the physical need for cocaine has passed, the patient must begin mental and emotional healing, which, in the case of cocaine, can be the most difficult aspect of using the drug. This can be done through some of the following:
- Partial hospitalization or day treatment. After initial detox, these programs provide limited hours of treatment each day at a hospital or clinic for patients who still live at home.
- Outpatient programs. Run at hospitals, health clinics, residential facilities and counselor’s offices, these programs run in the evenings and on weekends for those who continue to work and who have a supportive and stable family environment to continue their aftercare at home.
- Intensive outpatient programs. Usually requiring 9-20 hours of treatment per week, these treatments are more intense than regular outpatient programs but operate much the same way.
Cocaine often drives recovering addicts to opiates, alcohol and other addictive drugs to help combat the intense mental craving for euphoria that came with using. Behavioral treatments for cocaine addiction have proven to be effective in both inpatient and outpatient settings and are required as part of recovery for the patient.
7. How much does cocaine detox cost?
Cocaine rehabilitation treatment can cost nearly $20,000 or more for a 35-day treatment program, which includes the cost of housing, food and treatment. Insurance can help offset these costs and will usually completely cover detoxification. Additionally, Medicaid, Medicare, state health insurance, military insurance and some private insurance will often cover addiction treatments.
Outpatient detox can range from $1,000 to $1,500 total, and most inpatient rehabs include detoxification treatment in the cost of the program. The cost also depends on how much monitoring is required. Inpatient rehab can cost around $6,000 for a 35-day program; more well-known centers can cost up to $20,000 for the same time frame. Outpatient rehab can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000. Additionally, medications needed for ongoing alcohol addiction can cost several thousand dollars per year.
Despite the high cost, there is no way to put a price on your and your loved ones’ well-being. Seek help today.