Cocaine is a highly addictive central nervous system (CNS) stimulant that elicits brief but intense effects that include euphoria, increased energy, and hyperactivity. A coke comedown is the period in which these effects begin to wear off and give way to unpleasant symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, and dysphoria. Although this phenomenon is often compared to an alcoholic hangover, the two may be quite different because cocaine is a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant.
Cocaine is typically found illicitly, although it is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule II substance, indicating that it has some limited medical purpose(s). Street cocaine often comes in the form of a white crystalline powder and is one of the most popularly abused illegal drugs in the U.S. and elsewhere. Crack cocaine is a cruder version of the drug that comes in a rock-life form that is typically smoked.
How Is Coke Used?
Cocaine can be snorted, smoked, injected, or rubbed onto the gums. The administration method determines the amount of time it takes for a person to feel its effects, as well as their intensity and duration.
Smoking and injecting are the fastest routes to induce a high, whereas snorting or rubbing the product onto the gums takes longer to reach the brain. Regardless, when this occurs, heart rate, respiration, and blood pressure all increase.
Why Coke Highs are Brief and Binge-Worthy
Cocaine is metabolized rapidly, and its effects generally only last 10-30 minutes, but for the inexperienced or casual user, it may persist for up to an hour. Thus, users often engage in binging behavior to delay adverse effects related to the coke comedown period. Unfortunately, excessive cocaine use is quite risky and can lead to dependence, tolerance, addiction, and overdose.
Tolerance is characterized by the body’s propensity to diminish the effects of a potentially harmful substance and often compels users to consume increasing amounts in an attempt to achieve the results they are seeking. This behavior further increases the risk of overdose and other adverse complications.
Coke Comedown Effects
Changes in mood and physical state during a coke comedown is related to cocaine’s ability to increase dopamine levels in the brain dramatically. Dopamine is an essential chemical messenger that is responsible for feelings of reward and well-being. When cocaine’s effects wear off, the amount of dopamine begins to plummet, and unwanted symptoms like irritability, depression, and fatigue take over.
Unfortunately, the comedown period can last longer than the high itself, and the body may need a significant amount of time to recover. Many new cocaine users aren’t entirely prepared for this and may feel disillusioned and avoid cocaine use in the future. As noted, others will binge and engage in patterns of use that will increase the risk of adverse effects.
Common symptoms of a coke comedown include the following:
- Runny nose
- Body aches and pains
- Chills/increased sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Anxiety or depression
- Insomnia, despite fatigue
- Appetite changes
- Drug cravings
While the physical aspects of a coke comedown are uncomfortable, it is the psycho-emotional symptoms that endure and may be the most challenging with which to deal. Users may feel that depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and other unwanted symptoms are best relieved by a return to cocaine use or other substances. However, a comedown is ultimately unavoidable, and the more excessively a person uses this drug, the more severe the comedown period is likely to be.
Getting Through a Coke Comedown
The following are suggestions for getting through a cocaine comedown at home. However, keep in mind that recovering users are strongly advised to seek medical detox and professional treatment, which can improve comfort and safety and reduce the likelihood of relapse.
For those who choose to undergo this process without help, things such as rest, a healthy diet, exercise, proper hydration, and avoidance of stress may help relieve some comedown-related issues. Remember that comedown effects are only temporary, and unless dependence or addiction is present, the unpleasantness of it all will soon pass.
Cocaine Dependence and Addiction
For heavy users and those who have a severe cocaine dependence, medical detox and long-term treatment may be vital for recovery. Dependence involves a chemical or emotional reliance on a substance and leads to unpleasant and sometimes painful withdrawal symptoms when a person attempts to discontinue its use. Many cocaine-dependents also suffer from full-blown addiction, which includes compulsive drug-seeking behavior that persists despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.
Comedown and withdrawal effects are similar to each other, but withdrawal is different in that it requires some level of dependence. Moreover, a person who only uses cocaine once or very occasionally will still experience a comedown even though they are not drug-dependent. For those who are, the longer and more excessively they abuse cocaine, the more intense withdrawal symptoms may be.
The cocaine withdrawal period, like the comedown, is characterized by extreme fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and sometimes profound depression. Withdrawal symptoms last longer than the comedown, however, and cravings and emotional issues can persist for months. Although psychological problems may be temporary due to chemical imbalances, they are nonetheless distressing and can lead to suicidal ideations or behaviors. If this occurs, emergency help should be sought immediately.
In any case, it’s important to realize that cocaine’s addictive nature can make it challenging for regular users to quit and begin coping with life without it. For those who continue to struggle against cocaine abuse, treatment at a drug rehab center is likely the best option. There is no shame in accepting help, and this decision can lead to a more fulfilling future and prevent cocaine abusers from inflicting further harm on themselves and others.
During treatment, former cocaine users can also learn how to deal with triggers, cravings, and identify other underlying issues, including mental health disorders. These can then be addressed using psychotherapy and relapse prevention strategies. Group support involving peers who are experiencing similar problems also helps people new to recovery to feel connected, understood, and no longer alone in their suffering.
Untreated cocaine dependence and addiction tend to be quite challenging to surmount and can lead to severe consequences, such as mental and physical health problems, strained relationships, and social, financial, and legal issues. However, most of these problems can be overcome when people receive the right tools and support they need to be successful at long-term recovery.
Getting Treatment for Drug Addiction
Addiction to cocaine, other drugs, or alcohol can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being. It also tends to dramatically impact the lives of those who love the addicted person, including family and friends. Individuals struggling with addiction are urged to seek comprehensive, long term treatment that can address the issues that contributed to their desire to abuse substances in the first place.
Just Believe Recovery is a specialized addiction treatment center that offers individualized programs in inpatient and partial hospitalization formats. Our recovery approach includes a variety of evidence-based services and activities, such as behavioral therapy, individual and family counseling, group support, art and music therapy, psychoeducation, aftercare planning, and more.
If you or someone you love is battling substance abuse, we urge you to contact us today to discuss treatment options! Discover how we help those who need it most achieve abstinence and sustain long-lasting sobriety, health, and wellness!