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Cocaine Detox Timeline


Detox is slang for detoxification, which is when a person’s body is trying to rid itself of a toxin or substance that is not supposed to be in the body naturally.


Detox is caused by the cutting off of the supply of toxins into the body, and is the first stage in becoming clean from the substance. It is also related to the period of withdrawal the body goes through when trying to return to homeostasis after a long-term use of an addictive substance, in this case, cocaine.


Background on Cocaine and Addiction


Cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant drug that affects the amount of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter related to feelings of pleasure. A neurotransmitter is created by the brain so the body can send signals, or chemical messages, to itself so as to perform its normal functions.


Cocaine is derived from the coca plant, native to South America. It is well documented throughout history that indigenous people of South America used to chew on the leaves of the coca plant for energy and pleasure. Pottery from antiquity depicts people with full cheeks and the leaves of the coca plant next to them, leading researchers to believe that this use of the plant was in practice for thousands of years. Remains of the plant have also been found buried with Peruvian mummies.


When the Spanish came and conquered South America, they saw the indigenous people chewing the plant and originally believe it to be work of the devil. They outlawed this activity until they realized that the South Americans were telling the truth and they really did feel more energy and strength after having the plant. When this happened, the Spanish legalized its use and began taxing the plant.


In the 19th Century, a German scientist, Friedrich Gaedcke, was the first person able to isolate the cocaine alkaloid. Following his success, other scientists were better able to study the drug as well. Furthermore, pharmacists were then able to explore uses of the drug and even put cocaine within their products. Pharmacists created products such as tooth drops to alleviate dental pain, dandruff/hair growth powder, and even energy tablets that business owners would encourage their manual laborers to buy.


Cocaine started to become much more widespread and much more popular as it rose up in pop culture and became the “rich man’s drug.” With that being said, another form of cocaine, this time in a crystallized form, instead of a powdered form, came to be popular. It is more commonly known as crack cocaine and has the same side effects as powder cocaine, except it is much cheaper to buy, but the health consequences are more grave as well as the judicial penalties being more severe.


With cocaine availability becoming greater, so was its usage. And, with greater usage comes greater problems with addiction. Addiction to cocaine causes a rewiring in the brain that deflates one’s pleasure center. Cocaine fundamentally alters brain function because of its role with creating excess dopamine in a person’s brain.


At first, this excess dopamine feels incredible for a person. Happy, courageous, and energetic are just three adjectives commonly felt by users of cocaine.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages of pleasure throughout our bodies. When a person ingests cocaine, they are manually altering (raising) their dopamine levels. However, our bodies are constantly working towards homeostasis, which is the process of trying to remain balanced. So, when a person’s brain starts to have higher levels of dopamine, it will try to balance itself to those levels, thinking those higher levels are normal.


The result is that when the drug is not in the system anymore, and dopamine levels are where they were before the heightened drug use, a person will emotionally feel even less than before they took the drug. This creates an inability to feel pleasure when sober.


Eating food, social contact, and sex are all examples of social survival tactics that bring pleasure to oneself. When a person is going through a cocaine addiction, even when sober these activities will not seem pleasurable because the dopamine levels are nowhere near the sudden high of cocaine.


When a person’s brain is rewired, the drug begins to control them. No one choses to be an addict, but an addiction can take over all control from a person. That is why it is so important to regain control and take action into your own hands. Getting clean is the first step.


However, there are other important, underlying factors to consider with an addiction. A person’s home environment, mental illnesses, and genetics all play a very large role in addiction. There is a “biopsychosocial” model when understanding addiction that is very important. If a person comes from an environment where there was someone else in the family with an addiction, then that person is very likely to have an addiction as well.


This can be due partly to genetics but also to psycho and social reasons for growing up a certain way and seeing that as the way to live. Also, many people with an undiagnosed mental illness will self medicate with illicit drug abuse hoping to change the way they are feeling.


What Are The Stages of Detox?


Cocaine addiction is more of a mental addiction than a physical addiction such as to opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. The downside of this is that the cravings last a lot longer after detox than with drugs that create a physical dependence. That is why when detoxing from a drug such as cocaine it is essential to have proper care and to learn the most effective tools for long-term success.


The detox process is different for every person because every person has a unique case of their own body’s physiology, how long they have been using cocaine, the purity of the cocaine they use, their own “behind the scenes” psychological factors( such as a mood disorders), and personal background.


When going to a recovery center, such as Luminance Recovery for detox, you can expect the client to receive a medical assessment to determine the strength of the addiction as well as to learn about other intersectional factors that will be important during the detox process. Routine testing will likely include: blood tests, cardiac tests, chest x-ray, ECG (electrocardiogram), toxicology screening, and urinalysis.


Then, our trained professionals will be with you every step of the way, trying to provide you with as much comfort as possible while going through the full withdrawal period.


Symptoms of detox

Symptoms of detox largely come from the withdrawal period. During the stages of cocaine withdrawal, a person’s body is strongly craving the drug. The body has since “crashed” from the euphoric effects of the drug and is now trying to return to homeostasis, but this is quite difficult for the body after prolonged exposure to cocaine.


During detox, the body is trying to regain control and come back to its normal levels of neurotransmitters and hormones that it was at before the addiction started. While this is occurring, normal symptoms to experience from getting rid of a toxin in the body are: skin breakouts, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, brain fog, headaches and body aches, and extreme cravings.


However, there are more symptoms of detox when one is coming off from cocaine abuse. These include fatigue and exhaustion, difficulty concentrating, inability to feel pleasure, inability to experience sexual arousal, depression, anxiety, chills, tremors, muscle aches, nerve pain, suicidal thought or actions, increased cravings for cocaine, increased appetite, unpleasant dreams, slowed activity, restlessness, and slower thinking.


With all of these symptoms, this is why we recommend in-patient recovery treatment at Luminance Recovery. That way our trained and experienced staff can help give you the most comfortable experience as possible during this difficult time.


Timeline of Detoxification


Detox from cocaine usually takes 1-3 weeks, however, no two addictions are the same, therefore, no two recoveries are the same. The length of detox is different for every person because of so many factors. The general stages and lengths of the stages in a medically supervised cocaine detoxification are:

  • Entering the Luminance facility and beginning a clinical assessment regarding medical history, drug history, home environment, and mental health history. This should be within the first few hours.
  • A doctor will then establish a diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient should they also be battling a co-occurring illness with a mental health disorder such as depression or anxiety. The doctor may then prescribe antidepressants and/or anti-anxiety medications to help lessen the psychological effects of cocaine and its withdrawal.
  • Symptoms: for drug abusers with a long history of using cocaine, withdrawal can begin within a few hours since their last hit, but the cocaine withdrawal symptoms may not occur for up to 24 hours or so after the last usage of the drug.
  • Stabilization: our medical professionals and trained staff will be closely monitoring clients as they go through this difficult time of withdrawal in detox that can last at least four to five days. These four to five days will be intense, full of the common side effects associated with cocaine detox. It is also during this stabilization period when we start to give clients the tools necessary for prolonged and successful recovery.


Again, it is important to remember that there are several factors that affect a person’s timeline throughout this process. For example, how long the patient/client has abused the drug, family history, severity of withdrawal symptoms all impact how long detoxification can take. Furthermore, monitoring the client becomes especially important after stabilization, and this stage can vary in length depending on co-occurring mental health disorders.


What is the Best Way to Detox From Cocaine?


An addict can detox from cocaine totally on their own, through an outpatient program, or through an in-patient program.


Going through detox and withdrawal totally on their own leaves all of the treatment up to the individual with no other assistance, unless a loved one is willing to help them emotionally throughout the process.


An outpatient program, such as one offered at Luminance Recovery is the next step up in terms of receiving outside care. With an outpatient program, an addict will go through most of the withdrawal and detox period on their own with a few check up appointments at the Center to monitor recovery.


An inpatient program gives addicts the best possible chance at a successful recovery. Through 24/7 supervision and care, trained staff deliver comfortable care to clients to make the recovery process as easy as it can be, because it is quite difficult. Clients receive counseling groups, equine therapy, social contact, medical supervision, and more at our inpatient center. We provide the best tools possible for a successful transition to sober life.


What to Expect When Going Through Detox


If you are an addict wanting to be clean, you should expect detox to be difficult, but doable. You can do it, you can. Detox may be tough at the beginning, but at Luminance we will try to make it as comfortable as possible. The benefits of getting clean are well worth the struggle of a few days.


For loved ones, you can expect that at Luminance your loved ones will be receiving the best possible care as they transition to a healthier life.


Clients can expect to receive counseling sessions to determine the root of the addiction, as it is never just the drug that causes an addiction because other environmental factors could have lead to the drug use in the first place.


Clients can expect withdrawal to be an emotional rollercoaster because of all the psychological effects cocaine use creates. There will be strong mood swings, strong cravings for cocaine, and difficult sleeping.


Getting Help


Battling a cocaine addiction is terribly difficult. There are emotional, social, psychological, and physical consequences of a drug addiction. Many people are ill informed about addiction and its root causes; no one chooses to be an addict.


However, getting clean and taking control of your life is essential for being the best person you can be. With that being said, going through cocaine detox can be the best decision of your entire life, but also the hardest. But, at a facility such as Luminance Recovery, the best care is available to give you the most comfortable experience as possible throughout the entire detox process..


If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to cocaine, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Orange County rehab today. Our professional and fully trained staff is here to help with your cocaine addiction.

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