The alarming rise in cocaine abuse during recent years in the UK, has affected all strata of society, not least professionals. The drug is an extremely addictive drug and this addiction results in harm not only to the individual, but also their family, close colleagues and employers.
Cocaine-addiction needs specialist detoxification and treatment. At Castle Craig hospital we have 30 years experience of treating people and their families affected by alcohol and drugs. We strive to ensure that each detox is tailored to the needs of the person and that this is rapid, comfortable and safe.
Withdrawal symptoms mostly relate to mental health rather than physical health and can be distressing and underestimated. There are no effective drug treatments for cocaine withdrawal.
While cocaine’s stimulant effects increase alertness and energy, during detox the opposite becomes the case and the person experiences a coke“crash”. This causes fatigue, energy loss, mood swings, insomnia and restlessness. Intense cravings occur along with anxiety, paranoia, depression and occasionally suicidal thinking. There are also risks for those with a history of fits, high blood pressure or heart disease.
These symptoms are best treated by a medical team in a residential setting, in order to avoid relapse. Our detox approach is also aimed at improving brain function and counteracting the toxic effects of coke on the brain. Our unique hyperbaric oxygen therapy can be of additional help.
Effects of Cocaine on the Brain
Cocaine narrows blood vessels and reduces blood flow in the brain. It also damages small and large vessels. The overall effect is to reduce the oxygen flow. Research shows that cocaine use reduces attention, memory, concept formation and mental flexibility.
“It’s eerie to look inside the brain of a heavy drug user. Blood flow is sluggish and abnormal compared to the brain of a non-user. Such an abnormality may underlie memory loss, learning problems, attention deficits and even strokes.” – Harvard University Gazette.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)
The unique feature of our cocaine-detox is that patients can receive two sessions of HBOT each day during the first week of detoxification. This treatment is recognised by the Department of Health as being safe.
HBOT can help during detoxification by:
- Repairing damaged blood vessels;
- Growing new blood vessels into tissues starved of oxygen;
- Increasing oxygen levels;
- Regenerating tissue, reducing swelling and inflammation.
HBOT aids detoxification
Leading expert Dr. Kenneth Stoller, President of the International Hyperbaric Medical Association agrees that HBOT appears to assist detoxification:
“By opening up this circulation into damaged tissues that alone helps with the detoxification process and certainly by normalising various enzyme systems it helps with the detoxification process because a metabolically healthy cell will be able to participate in the required chemical steps to detoxify.” (Stoller K; Small T /Medical Veritas 3 (2006) 957–966. More.
Detox – The First Step to Recovery
Addiction is a biopsychosocial illness and detoxification alone is not enough to stop the compulsion to use drugs. A combination of individual care planning and psychotherapy, specialist therapies, education and holistic therapies (all monitored by our experienced and dedicated medical team) will assist towards a full and abstinent recovery.
Dr Margaret McCann:
If someone is abusing cannabis and cocaine, these drugs can be stopped abruptly.
The person will experience some degree of physiological withdrawal but it’s very minor in its manifestation. With cannabis withdrawal, mainly it will be insomnia and agitation. These can generally be managed with non-medication interventions by generally supporting the patient.
With cocaine-withdrawal, the drug can be stopped. Again with amphetamines, methamphetamines, all of these are stimulant drugs; drugs can be stopped immediately. The person will often experience an opposite reaction to the effects that the drugs have generated. So if there are stimulant drugs, then the person will experience what we call a “crash”. They will feel tired and exhausted and depleted of energy. But there is no concerning physiological response in respective withdrawal from these medications, generally speaking.
So again, the treatment for cannabis and cocaine withdrawal will be supportive, it’s rarely medication-assisted.
However, what we do provide is various complementary therapies to assist people, such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, stress-management techniques.
And these are invaluable in assisting the withdrawal process. We also offer hyperbaric oxygen treatment to people who are undergoing drug withdrawal, and this has been considered, by many patients who I have spoken to, who participated in the HBOT programme, they found it to be hugely beneficial, especially in alleviating insomnia and assisting with the restoration of normal sleep patterns.
Page last reviewed and clinically fact-checked | October 13, 2021