Cocaine abuse is a serious problem across the UK, and knowing how to stop taking cocaine once addicted is incredibly challenging.
The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 2% of adults aged 16-59 and 4% of 16-24-year-olds had used cocaine in the year ending June 2022, representing millions of users.
Powder cocaine is often seen as a party drug and associated with glamorous lifestyles, but it can be very addictive and have serious consequences. Crack cocaine (a crystalline version of the drug that can be smoked) can be even more addictive.
If you are struggling with figuring out how to stop taking cocaine for good, know that you are not alone. This can be very difficult without expert help, but many people do make a long-term recovery from cocaine addiction. Recovery is possible, as long as it’s something you are wholeheartedly committed to achieving.
Signs of Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine’s addictive effects (as well as the high that people seek out) stem mainly from the drug’s effects on the limbic system of the brain. This is a set of interconnected regions that regulate pleasure and motivation.
Users start doing cocaine because of the intense high and the flood of dopamine – a chemical in the brain often known as the ‘feel good hormone’. Users may feel more energetic and confident, as well as experience feelings of euphoria. There may also be negative short-term effects, such as feeling panicky, angry or sick, but many people will want to recreate and seek out the pleasurable effects again.
When you use cocaine, the effects only last a short time compared to many other drugs, so people will often use more and more of the drug. At the same time, they can develop a tolerance, meaning they need to take more to get the same effect. When they do not use the drug, they may experience a range of cocaine withdrawal symptoms
Signs and symptoms of developing cocaine addiction can vary from one person to the next but could include:
- Taking more and more for the same effect.
- Feeling ill effects (withdrawal symptoms) when you do not use it.
- Feeling anxious about not knowing how to stop taking cocaine.
- Being unable to quit or cut down.
- Finding yourself taking cocaine when you are alone.
- Spending more money than you can afford on drugs.
- Continuing to use it, despite negative consequences.
- Putting cocaine use above friends, family and responsibilities.
The Risks of Cocaine Use
Some people believe that cocaine is more psychologically harmful than a risk to physical health. It’s true that cocaine withdrawal symptoms tend to be more psychological in nature, but cocaine abuse can certainly have a serious physical impact. For a start, you can overdose on cocaine – in 2021, 840 deaths from drug poisoning in England and Wales involved cocaine, more than seven times the amount recorded a decade ago.
Cocaine misuse is also closely associated with heart issues and an increased risk of stroke. It can even cause ulcerations and tears in the gastrointestinal tract. Snorting the drug can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds and damage to the septum.
Psychiatric symptoms in cocaine addicts can include agitation, uncontrollable rage, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions. Addiction and associated behaviours can have their own risks, leading to poor decision-making, causing friction in relationships and families and often having a huge financial cost.
How to Stop Taking Cocaine
The risks of cocaine use can be serious, but quitting cocaine is not an easy process if done alone. The most effective way to stop taking cocaine is almost always to seek expert professional help.
Consider a Treatment Programme at a Rehab
Cocaine rehab, for example, can put you in a safe and calm environment away from the triggers and temptations associated with your usual drug use. You will be able to undergo a monitored cocaine detox with recovery experts to help you get through any withdrawal symptoms.
You will also undergo an intensive programme of therapies and other treatments aimed at addressing every aspect of your addiction. Cocaine addiction treatment will usually involve exploring the root causes of your substance abuse and misuse and changing the way you think and behave around the drug. A comprehensive aftercare programme can also help you to remain clean and sober as you maintain your cocaine recovery.
If you’re wondering how to stop taking cocaine without residential rehab or other professional programmes, it may be more difficult, but it can be done. This is particularly true for recovering addicts or if you are not yet in the grip of a serious addiction.
You might consider seeking out therapy, counselling or group support outside a rehab environment to help you deal with some of the root causes and issues surrounding your addiction to alcohol and drug use. This can also help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms.
Find Others Who Understand What You’re Going Through
Having friends and/or family who are there to support you whenever you need it is fantastic, But, one important step in overcoming cocaine addiction is to find a support network of people who understand what you’re going through. It’s inspiring to be around people who have been successful in knowing how to stop taking cocaine for good, and you’ll be able to relate to their experiences on a first-hand level.
Consider joining specific support groups, such as Cocaine Anonymous, where you can connect with other former cocaine users facing similar challenges. Sharing your struggles, listening to stories, and receiving support and encouragement can provide a sense of community, validate your own feelings and help you stay motivated on your recovery journey.
Understand Your Treatment Options
Educating yourself about different treatment options is essential, as it’ll help you choose the most suitable approach for your recovery.
For some, how to stop taking cocaine is by it’s going cold turkey and into an inpatient treatment programme. For others, it’s seeking treatment on an outpatient basis and finding professional support that works around their schedule.
Talk to addiction specialists or healthcare professionals who can provide expert advice on what works best, as they can give you more information on various therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), individual counselling, and group therapy. Understanding the benefits and considerations of each treatment option empowers you to make informed decisions regarding your recovery plan.
Make Proactive Steps Towards Positive Changes
Your mental health will need to be one of your main priorities. Breaking free from cocaine addiction requires making proactive changes in your daily life, and accepting that you’ll need to put yourself first to truly regain control of your life.
This includes avoiding triggers and environments associated with drug and alcohol use, such as certain social circles or specific locations where using cocaine is normalised. Establishing new routines can be hard at first, but it’s in your best interest.
Develop healthy coping mechanisms and engage in activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing, such as exercise, finding a new hobby, or engaging in mindfulness practices. Establishing a structured routine and setting achievable goals can help you stay focused and build a positive, drug-free lifestyle.
Reevaluate Your Lifestyle
Take a closer look at your current lifestyle and identify areas that may contribute to your addiction or hinder your recovery.
Assess your relationships, work-life balance, and self-care practices. Surround yourself with supportive and positive influences while distancing yourself from individuals who enable or engage in substance abuse, or make cocaine cravings worse. Prioritise self-care and implement healthy habits, such as regular sleep patterns, balanced nutrition, and stress reduction techniques.
Address the Root Cause of Your Addiction
Addressing the root cause of drug use is the most effective way of learning how to stop taking cocaine in the long term.
Whilst it may invoke uncomfortable feelings for you at first, it’s essential to address the underlying causes and triggers that led you to substance abuse in the first place.
This may involve exploring past traumas, emotional issues, or co-occurring mental health disorders. Seek professional help from therapists or counsellors specialising in addiction treatment to help you identify and work through these underlying issues. By addressing the root cause, you can develop healthier coping mechanisms and reduce the risk of relapse.
Remember, each individual’s journey to recovery is unique. It’s crucial to seek guidance from professionals who can personalise their approach based on your specific needs and circumstances.
Coping with Withdrawal Symptoms
Coping with cocaine withdrawal can be a very challenging process, and many people attempting to quit cocaine will fall at this first major hurdle.
It’s important to recognise that, yes, with a cocaine crash, you will feel irritable. You will feel overwhelmed. It’ll be difficult to kick old habits. But remember, withdrawal symptoms are temporary – and with perseverance and the right support (e.g. medical supervision), you’ll be able to get through this stage and one step closer to recovery.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Intense cocaine cravings.
- Mood swings.
- Poor concentration.
- Inability to feel pleasure.
- Poor mental health.
Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can be intense and very unpleasant, but experiencing withdrawal is a sign that you’re making positive changes to your life.
Again, it is helpful to have access to a safe environment and a strong support network around you, which is why undergoing a supervised detox and withdrawal can be extremely valuable. You must also be completely committed to quitting cocaine, or you are very likely to relapse and go back to the drug.
Staying sober and maintaining a drug free lifestyle after cocaine addiction can be an ongoing challenge – but it’s worth it.
Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight, and if you have undergone a drug addiction treatment programme like rehab, you will have had relapse prevention sessions to help you stay sober in the long term. You might also have access to the right support whenever you experience cravings, usually through an aftercare programme.
Even if not, it is important to develop healthy coping strategies as there will probably be times when you have to deal with cravings and temptations. Support groups can be a real source of strength for many people, and taking up new hobbies, interests, and a healthier overall lifestyle can all help you to maintain your recovery moving forward. Little changes make a big impact.
Call us today on 0800 012 6088 for professional advice on how to stop taking cocaine once and for all.
-  2% of adults aged 16-59 and 4% of 16-24-year-olds had used cocaine in the year ending June 2022, representing millions of users - https://ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/articles/drugmisuseinenglandandwales/yearendingjune2022
-  drug's effects on the limbic system of the brain - https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851032
-  in 2021, 840 deaths from drug poisoning in England and Wales involved cocaine, more than seven times the amount recorded a decade ago - https://ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/deathsrelatedtodrugpoisoninginenglandandwales/2021registrations
-  Snorting the drug can lead to loss of sense of smell, nosebleeds and damage to the septum - https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/cocaine/what-are-long-term-effects-cocaine-use
-  agitation, uncontrollable rage, paranoia, hallucinations and delusions - https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181074
-  Cocaine Anonymous - https://www.cocaineanonymous.org.uk/