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How To Stop Using Cocaine
Since cocaine is so addictive, it might be difficult for you to quit. However, understanding your options might make it a bit easier for you to quit. It will also help you know the benefits of quitting as well as the types of experiences most former cocaine addicts have when they start on the journey to recovery.
Most people realize the bad effects that cocaine has on their bodies and minds and see how it negatively affects their lives. If you get to this point, you will have taken the first step towards recovery. This is because making this realization will help you start looking for solutions to your cocaine addiction.
In this guide, you will learn about the different things you can get yourself to stop abusing coke. However, you need to realize that there are no guaranteed that all these solutions will work for you - it will all depend on how much you desire change in your life, and your will to quit.
Luckily, you have already started on the path to full recovery - and the efforts you make from here henceforth will help push you towards a life free of cocaine. In this new life, your relationships will go back to normal, you will be able to return to work and get fresh opportunities to be the best version of yourself. Best of all, you will finally get the happiness that cocaine stole from you.
That said, cocaine is a highly addictive stimulant that is now considered to rank among the worst of all drugs. Although cocaine has a relatively short high, most people who try it end up addicted to the effects it elicits.
What most users don't know is that the shorter the effects last, the stronger they are. This means that when you use cocaine, you will get such a happy and euphoric feeling that you will have no option but to keep going back to it for more - all in an attempt to reach the initial level of happiness and pleasure the drug gave you.
Once you use cocaine, the initial euphoria you get may keep you chasing the drug; of course, all this can stop when you start taking the steps required to quit.
Even if you try to smoke, inject, or snort cocaine, the initial high it created in your brain will still remain elusive. This is why cocaine is ranked among the most addictive of all chemical substances you can try.
Overcome Cocaine Addiction
Unfortunately, you may be tempted to attempt quitting without getting any help. In such a case, you may have a number of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Embarrassment about your cocaine addiction and dependency
- The belief that you won't be able to pay for professional and medical treatment
- The belief that your cocaine addiction is not severe enough to warrant any help
Sadly, even as you continue recovering from your addiction, you may eventually discover that there are many pitfalls that can waylay you in your attempts to quit on your own. In some cases, this may be because of the following:
- A tendency to retain your old habits or continue associating with the people you used to interact with when you were addicted to cocaine
- Failing to prepare for the withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings that arise when you try to quit cocaine
- Lack of experienced support mechanisms, such as therapy and support groups, to rely on
- Lacking structure in your approach
Eventually, you will realize that learning how to stop using cocaine will require more than just you. This is why there are recovery programs designed to help people just like you - who find themselves in a situation where they are no longer willing to continue using cocaine.
Cocaine Recovery Programs
As mentioned above, there are structured cocaine recovery programs that you can sign up for. By so doing, you will be able to benefit both from the treatment experience and professional training of others to help you on your journey to full recovery. These treatment settings include, but are not limited to:
a) Group Counseling and Therapy
Group counseling and/or therapy programs work in the same way as individual counseling and therapy programs. However, they are beneficial in the sense that you will get to interact with other individuals with different levels of recovery. These interactions will provide you with opportunities to learn and rely on others. You will also be able to create your own support network.
Group counseling sometimes consists of family counseling, where you attend the therapy sessions with members of your family - a crucial link that could make it easier for you to quit using cocaine.
b) Individual Counseling and Therapy
Individual counseling and therapy is similar to group counseling in the sense that you will get access to addiction treatment professionals. These experts will help you to create and structure a recovery program. They will also work with you in addressing some of the issues that inevitably tend to occur when you are addicted to cocaine and are trying to stop using.
c) Inpatient Rehabilitation
Through inpatient rehab, you will get the opportunity to live inside the treatment facility. This will allow you to keep away from the triggers that often cause you to use cocaine. During your stay at the center, you will benefit from a variety of medical and therapeutic treatment for your addiction.
d) Outpatient Rehabilitation
Outpatient rehab programs are far less comprehensive than inpatient programs. Tey allow you to live outside the treatment clinic and continue with your day to day life while also undergoing rehabilitation and treatment for cocaine addiction.
e) 12 Step Programs
At the most basic, twelve step programs are designed as social support groups that are different from counseling and therapy groups. However, they also provide a structured program. Additionally, they boast strong peer support that will help you on your journey to recovery and sobriety.
f) Polysubstance Abuse Treatment
This type of treatment is designed to deal with situations where you have been using other drugs and addictive substances over and above cocaine. Polysubstance abuse, as it is commonly referred to as, tends to cause a variety of unique medical and mental health hazards. In this case, therefore, the treatment you receive will have to address all forms of addictions you are suffering to ensure maximum recovery.
Comparisons Between Treatment Approaches
In most cases, inpatient therapy and treatment for cocaine addiction will last anywhere between 30 and 90 days. The duration of treatment will mostly depend on your particular situation and the seriousness/extent of your addiction to cocaine.
Most people who enroll in inpatient rehab programs - otherwise referred to as residential treatment - will continue on the journey to recovery through outpatient aftercare, which is provided after they leave the rehabilitation facility.
That said, inpatient rehab will usually begin with detoxification where you will be supervised and monitored as you undergo the emotional withdrawal symptoms that are commonly associated with quitting cocaine.
Inpatient rehab may also prove useful, especially if you need to remove yourself from any environment that is potentially or actually hazardous to your full recovery. This type of environment will inevitably increase the opportunities for you to relapse.
According to recent research, you have a lower probability of going back to cocaine use if you start your recovery by checking into an inpatient rehab center. This is because the early stages of cocaine recovery tend to be highly vulnerable.
That said, most of the formal therapy and counseling programs you will encounter in your fight against cocaine addiction and abuse will use CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) techniques. CBT has scientific evidence supporting its effectiveness.
However, most 12 step programs - such as Narcotics Anonymous - will not rely on these techniques directly. However, they might incorporate approaches that are more or less the same.
12 step programs, to this end, are different in the sense that they operate without any fee obligations. Formal counseling and therapy, on the other hand, will require that you pay or use your insurance to take care of the cost of the services you receive.
That said, recovery from cocaine abuse and addiction should be long term. This means that you should take it as a lifelong endeavor. As a direct result, it is vital that you engage yourself in an aftercare program. By so doing, you will be better placed to address most of the issues you are likely to face after you have checked out of a formal rehab facility.
Examples of programs that provide ongoing and long term aftercare include social support groups - such as 12 step programs. Other options include halfway houses, sober living homes, periodic recovery maintenance as offered through an intensive outpatient cocaine recovery program, as well as regularly scheduled counseling sessions.
Cocaine Effects And Withdrawal Symptoms
As you might already know, using cocaine produces extreme euphoria. This is because the drug causes your brain to release several neurotransmitters - particularly dopamine - in excessively high amounts.
Therefore, if and when you do stop using this substance, you are highly likely to experience a crash. This is typically characterized by the immediate intensification of several negative and severe feelings. These feelings may later be accompanied by a strong craving to start using cocaine.
a) Cocaine Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the common cocaine withdrawal symptoms include:
- A general slowing of actual physical activity
- Difficulty feeling pleasure
- Extreme paranoia and suspiciousness
- Feelings of general malaise
- Increased appetite
- Severe fatigue
- Severe restlessness
- Strong feelings and thoughts of hurting your body or ending your life
- Vivid dreams
However, for the most part, withdrawing from cocaine use will not produce the same unpleasant physical effects that you may experience when you try to quit other substances like heroin and alcohol. These effects include cold seats, trembling, vomiting, and nausea.
However, the craving for cocaine and the accompanying depression can be quite intense. Therefore, if you display any symptoms of clinical depression - such as the desire to hurt yourself as well as acute psychotic features like hallucinations and paranoia - are quite serious. As such, they require urgent professional assistance. Even something that might seem as simple as severe restlessness and agitation will require medical help.
b) Cocaine Withdrawal Timeline
In general, the severity of cocaine withdrawal will mostly depend on the amount of the drug you use, how often you used to use, among many other factors. That said, withdrawing from cocaine will often come in the phases described below:
i) The Crash
This phase tends to last anywhere from a couple of hours to a few days. The withdrawal symptoms you will experience during your crash are quite severe, and will mostly include severe cravings for cocaine, as well as increased appetite, fatigue, anxiety, sleepiness, irritability, and depression.
ii) Extreme Cravings
This withdrawal phase might begin several hours after you last use cocaine and last for a couple of weeks. During this phase, you are highly likely to continue experiencing strong cravings for cocaine.
Similarly, you might start reflecting on the positive experiences and feelings you got when you were still using cocaine. Other symptoms of this stage include anxiety, depression, lethargy, and irritability. You may also be easily distractible.
If you have a severe problem with cocaine, this stage may last anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks.
In general, you will enter the extinction phase after you have been clean from this substance for 10 weeks or thereabouts. This stage consists of less severe and less frequent cravings for the drug.
However, you may get cravings if it is triggered by people and events in your immediate environment and surroundings - such as when you encounter and spend time with friends you used to take cocaine with, revisiting the places you used cocaine, as well as stressful events.
iv) Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Researchers have also been discussing another extended period of cocaine. This phase is commonly referred PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. During this stage, you might experience emotional and psychological symptoms believed to be closely related to long term withdrawal from cocaine. These symptoms include:
- Mood swings
- Problems with concentration
- Problems with sleep, which might include hypersomnia (or excessive sleeping) or insomnia
- Variable energy levels
Some sources report that these withdrawal symptoms sometimes persist for several years after you last used cocaine. As a result, researchers are starting to believe that these PAWS symptoms may contribute to a relapse. This is because these symptoms tend to dissipate when you start using cocaine again.
This is another one of the reasons why it is so essential that you undergo long term aftercare to ensure your recovery over the long haul, to avoid relapse, and to quit cocaine once and for all.
Quitting Cold Turkey
As mentioned above, trying to quit cocaine without professional and medical assistance can be a bit of a hurdle to your full time recovery. When you try to stop using the drug while under medical supervision, you are going to benefit from a variety of medications that might help to reduce your irritability, mood swings, cravings, and any other withdrawal symptoms you have to contend with. Therefore, this is the best approach if you wish to reduce the chances that you will relapse.
That said, cocaine withdrawal sometimes causes suicidal thoughts and depression. These withdrawal symptoms are difficult - if not dangerous - to manage when you are on your own.
Why Quit Cocaine
When you quit cocaine, there are many benefits you are going to enjoy. These include but are not limited to:
a) Reduced Health Risks
Quitting will reduce the risk that you will have problems with your health. In fact, the risks may diminish almost immediately. These include risks such as experiencing cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and strokes, as well as problems with the nasal passage and respiratory system, seizures.
Quitting will also reduce the risks that are commonly associated with taking cocaine intravenously. These include contracting HIV, Hepatitis, and a variety of other serious infections.
b) Better Sleep
Most of the people who manage to quit cocaine tend to report an increase in the quality and quantity of their sleep.
c) Improved Finances
When you stop using this addictive substance, your finances may improve especially as a result of the reduced spending on cocaine. This means that you will no longer have to spend your hard earned money to feed your cocaine habit.
d) Improved Mental Health
You are also highly likely to experience a reduction or complete elimination of your stress levels. Quitting might also mean an end to the repeated cycle of ups and downs you used to experience when you were still addicted to cocaine.
e) Increased Cognitive Abilities
Most individuals will see an improvement in their memory, attention, and thinking capabilities. For instance, when you quit, you will experience better abstract thinking and reasoning.
f) Improved Self
Quitting cocaine is highly likely to increase your self-control and self-confidence. This means that you will start feeling more confident as you notice other more positive changes and alterations in your life.
g) Mental Health
When you stop using cocaine, you may effective lower your risk of getting mental illness. This is because abusing this drug over the long term has been linked to such symptoms of severe mental illness as psychosis, depression, anxiety, and the associated feelings and thoughts of hurting yourself or others.
h) Employment Opportunities
Most of the people who are able to succeed in quitting cocaine tend to be able to focus their energies and creativity of finding meaningful employment. This allows them to start earning a honest living and/or rebuilding their career.
i) Reduced Behavioral Consequences
When you stop using, you will effectively reduce most of the behavioral consequences typically associated with cocaine abuse. These consequences include a reduction in potential legal and criminal consequences associated with cocaine possession and use. You will also witness an increase in your goal-directed behavior and self-control.
Factors Affecting These Benefits
However, the benefits you will enjoy when you quit are highly likely to be determined by a variety of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Whether you combined cocaine with other addictive and intoxicating substances like benzodiazepines, stimulants, or alcohol
- The regularity of your cocaine abuse
- The amount of cocaine you used
- How long you have been using cocaine
That said, simply because you are able to quit cocaine does not necessarily mean that all of your issues and problems will magically disappear. Quitting, for instance, will by no means change those situations that you cannot result. It will also not be the ultimate gate pass to a life free of stress.
However, quitting is beneficial in the sense that it will change your ability and willingness to have greater control over your life. Additionally, it will also empower you to learn how to respond effectively to any hurdles and triggers you encounter when you restart your life free of cocaine.
Tips To Help You Quit Cocaine
Apart from the treatment programs - or over and beyond them - there are some things you can do to help you in your journey to full recovery and a life of sobriety after a period of using cocaine. Consider the following tips:
a) Be Prepared
As far as possible, it is essential that you prepare yourself to deal with anything you experience as you try to quit cocaine. You should also ensure that you do this in advance. In particular, you should prepare to deal with the intense cravings for the drug you are likely to experience after you quit.
This means that you should have a plan that you are going to follow. This plan will help you deal with, for example, stress. It should include meditation and/or exercise. You should also inform yourself about the existing social support networks you can fall back on when the cravings for cocaine hit you.
b) Fill Your Time
A good way to keep on the road to recovery is to fill your time with work, hobbies, and alternative interests. The important thing here is to ensure that you are spending your time doing things that you actually like and enjoy.
c) Avoid Triggers
As far as possible, as you continue battling your cocaine addiction, it is essential that you avoid the places and people you typically used to associate with when you were addicted to cocaine. These people/places can serve as serious triggers that could lead you back to your old life.
d) Get Support
Look for support whenever and wherever you can get it. It might come from your family and friends. It might also be from a social support group - such as Narcotics Anonymous.
These support groups - such as the 12 step program or SMART Recovery - will provide you with the space and place to receive the support and encouragement from others who are also undergoing recovery. They will also provide you with a program you can follow to help you stay the course of overcoming cocaine.
e) Undergo Treatment
Last but not least, it is essential that you receive treatment for your addiction, preferably from a structured rehabilitation and detoxification program. The treatment program can either be on an outpatient or inpatient basis, or even both.
Inpatient rehab for cocaine, in particular, will provide you with the education and structure you need in your recovery journey. It will also isolate you and keep you away from the negative influences and triggers that are likely to lead you back to addiction - particularly during what could be the most crucial stage of your recovery from cocaine.
With time, however, you are going to need to get a reliable outpatient aftercare plan that you can rely on to help you stay away from cocaine and prevent yourself from relapsing in the long term.
Helping An Addict
If someone you know has a cocaine addiction or abuse problem and you would like to help them, there are some things you need to consider. These include:
- Always be thoughtful in the approach you take
- Ask questions about their behavior
- Avoid being extremely argumentative or confrontational
- Communicate your concern for their wellbeing and health
- Do not get overly emotional or angry
- Encourage them to talk to treatment professionals and therapists
- Expect them to be a little (or very) resistant
- Never accuse them
- Never lose your self-control irrespective of their words or actions
- Never threaten them with treatment; instead, make suggestions
- Point out the inconsistencies in their behavior
- Remember that it might require several attempts on your part to get them to accept that they actually need help with their cocaine addiction
- Stay calm
Quitting Is Never Easy
At the end of the day, you should always remember that it is never easy to quit using cocaine. The body contains neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for regulating the sensations of pleasure in the brain.
When you use cocaine, it will increase the level of these neurotransmitters in the brain. In the process, the drug will cause euphoria, which is why it becomes so addictive so fast. If you try to quit, therefore, you will experience some consequences. These include the withdrawal symptoms described above, such as strong cravings, depression, paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, fatigue, and restlessness, among others.
However, since cocaine addiction lacks physical indications, most people who are addicted to it may think that they are not actually addicted. However, if they stop taking the drug, they will experience emotional and mental withdrawal, which is a clear sign that cocaine is addictive.
The best solution is to check into a rehabilitation center. This way, you will receive detoxification from your cocaine habit, as well as therapy and counseling to help you overcome your addiction. You may also benefit from the peer support and 12 step programs that are likely to be part of your treatment program.
In particular, cocaine is quite addictive. If you try to quit on your own, you might put your life in danger. However, checking into a rehab will allow the relevant medical teams and professionals to stabilize and monitor your health all through the hard process of quitting.
Additionally, the medical team will prescribe any medications required to help you ease the various withdrawal effects that your body and mind are unable to handle on their own.
After checking out of rehab, you should also ensure that you fill your days up with exercise, socializing, home projects, classes, and work. If you can, you should also go for counseling and build a solid and reliable support system around you.
Last but not least, quitting this drug is easier if you are able to reward yourself with your favorite foods, new items of clothing, or outings to special events that you would otherwise never have considered attending.
If you can, you should never celebrate the milestones you make against cocaine addiction by taking alcohol or using any other substance. It is also unwise to use these substances to deal with your cocaine cravings.
Overall, complete abstinence is the best way to ensure that you do not relapse and fall back to your old habits. Using other addictive substances will only lower your inhibitions and make it harder for you to resist your growing cravings for cocaine, and this might cause you to start using cocaine again. This should be easy to do after you check into a treatment facility or you seek immediate and urgent help any time you feel the urge to start using cocaine.
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