In understanding the process of a cocaine detox program, it is first necessary to be clear as to what a detoxification program is and, just as important, what it isn’t. A detox program is not recovery. It is preparation for the work of recovery, the initial phase of abstinence. Before the work of recovery can truly begin, the cocaine has to be completely out of the user’s system.
The physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal are likely to be intense during this period, and that is what a cocaine detox program is for – to offer the physical and mental support that the user needs to make it through this period and into recovery successfully.
Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
According to information from U.S. National Library of Medicine, the symptoms of cocaine withdrawal are less physical than they are mental. These symptoms, however, can be very intense, far more so than those associated with other substances. That intensity is what makes the relapse rate for cocaine among the highest of the commonly abused drugs. These are some of the cocaine addiction withdrawal symptoms that a detox program is designed to help manage:
- Depression, ranging from moderate to extreme
- Intense restlessness, an inability stay still or to relax
- Utter exhaustion
- Over-sensitivity to stimulation, such as noise and lights, and extreme short temperedness
- Nightmares, night terrors and night sweats
The Detox Support Process
While there is a general, basic form and set of processes for a cocaine detox program, people are complex and individual. Because of that, there are numerous factors that go into determining the specific types of support a user will need to successfully make it through a detox program. The detoxification support needs of a user who has been using cocaine heavily for a few years, for example, are going to differ significantly from those of someone who has been solidly addicted for a decade. These are some general elements of a cocaine detox program:
- Assessment of the degree of addiction, including how long the drug has been being abused, the frequency of use and the amount used.
- Assessment of any health vulnerabilities caused by the period of addiction. If there has been damage to the heart, for example, then that is going to influence how certain withdrawal symptoms are managed, such as anxiety or extreme nervousness, which could affect heart rate.
- Pharmaceutical treatment of some withdrawal symptoms may be necessary to help the process be a successful transition into recovery. Medications are sometimes used to combat feelings of anxiousness or depression.
- Non-pharmaceutical means of supporting well-being during the period of detox are also employed, including a nutritious diet, suitable physical exercise and counseling.
While a detox program is not a recovery program in the truest sense of the phrase, it is an essential precursor to recovery. Many people do try to detox on their own, but are driven to relapse by the intensity of those initial withdrawal symptoms. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most intense cocaine withdrawal symptoms take place from one to three days after use has ceased. During this period, paranoia and even consideration of suicide are possible. It is no wonder that, without the support of a supportive cocaine detox program, so many people end up being unable to make it through that initial period of withdrawal. Professional detox support can be critical to preparing a user to succeed in recovery.