There’s no doubt we tend to like stimulants to help us feel more energetic. Take coffee, for example. Many people love their morning coffee for that jolt of caffeine, which is a stimulant. But caffeine is but a very mild of one of many types of stimulants. Others are much more powerful and addictive, meaning that coming off of them can be difficult. Stimulant withdrawal is often an uncomfortable but necessary step along the road to sobriety.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants are substances that ultimately increase your alertness and energy, as they increase neurotransmitter activity in the brain and give the nervous system a boost. They may increase your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and cause you to feel more focused and energized.
However, a problem occurs when legal and illegal stimulants are misused or abused to improve behavior, stay focused, be more sociable, improve confidence, or feel less hungry.
Common stimulants include:
- ADHD medication like Ritalin or Adderall
- Methamphetamines (including crystal meth)
Stimulants can be extremely addictive, so it’s essential to take medication as prescribed and stay away from illegal stimulants. It’s not uncommon even for those that take ADHD medications like Adderall to become dependent on the drug to feel like they can mentally focus each day. Some use Adderall solely for the energy and focus it gives them rather than because they’ve been diagnosed with ADHD.
Stimulants can have short and long-term consequences on the physical and mental state of the body. For example, meth enhances the synthesis and release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s pleasure centers.
Someone abusing this drug for a long time runs the risk of damaging themselves mentally, emotionally, and physically, which can complicate the process of treating the addiction.
What Are Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms?
Those that do become addicted to stimulants may face uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when trying to come off them.
Here are some of the common stimulant withdrawal symptoms:
- Increased anxiety
- Having the jitters
- Loss of interest in things
- Moving slowly
- Slowed speech
- Increased appetite
- Memory issues
- Difficulty sleeping
- Cravings for the drug
- Vivid dreams
- Body aches
What Are the Stages of Stimulant Withdrawal Timeline?
The withdrawal timeline will vary depending on different factors. For example, if you’re abusing an extended-release ADHD drug, you may struggle with a longer detox than if you’ve become dependent on a fast-acting stimulant like cocaine. Other factors that can affect the pace and intensity of the withdrawal timeline include:
- Dosage of the drug
- Frequency taken
- Length of time abusing the drug
- Health condition
- Dietary habits
- How supportive the environment is
- Level of tolerance
- Polydrug use
- Taper schedule
A general withdrawal timeline is as follows:
Depending on the type of stimulant, withdrawal symptoms may begin between days 1 and 3. Generally, feelings of fatigue, sadness, agitation, and cravings may arise. You may also have some trouble sleeping and experience vivid dreams. Those that are considered heavy users may experience more intense symptoms like paranoia or hallucinations.
The withdrawal symptoms you may experience during the first week or week and a half will depend on what type of stimulant you’ve become addicted to. Generally, most people that detox from stimulants reports that after about a week, most symptoms have subsided, except lingering psychological symptoms like cravings or depression. You may still feel fatigued during this stage as your brain tries to re-balance itself without the drugs.
DAYS 11 AND BEYOND
Once you get past 10 days, you should be feeling a lot better. For mild addiction, chances are symptoms will be minimal to none from this point on. For more moderate to severe addiction, you could still feel some cravings and fatigue for another few days or weeks. If this is the case, it is recommended to continue with long-term recovery treatment at either a residential or outpatient treatment center.
Withdrawing from stimulants isn’t usually life-threatening, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. In fact, it can be quite uncomfortable, which is one reason a medical detox at a treatment center is recommended.
Why Should I Detox?
To recover from stimulant addiction, it is necessary to detox from the harmful chemicals associated with the particular drug. Detoxing under the care of substance abuse professionals is the best and safest course of action.
When you’re at a residential or outpatient detox center, you’ll have access to medical professionals that can help you manage those withdrawal symptoms, making it much easier and bearable.
Regardless of what stimulant you’ve become addicted to, you should never try to quit cold turkey at home. This can be dangerous and produce severe withdrawal symptoms, leading to potential relapse. Rather, a tapering method should be used where a physician decreases the dosage of the drug over time, essentially weaning you off.
What Is the Next Treatment Step?
Individuals who abuse stimulants can get addicted to the drug very quickly, which can make treatment complicated. Detox is simply the first step toward recovery. Usually, people go on to continue treatment in either an inpatient or outpatient treatment center.
In residential treatment, emotional, cognitive, and medical therapies are normally combined to reduce the effects of the symptoms of withdrawal. The patients normally receive systematic care to reduce the chances of relapsing. At a residential facility, you reside at the center for about 30 or 90 days depending on your needs and the magnitude of the drug usage.
Medical and psychological treatment is normally provided as the basic approach to dealing with drug addiction. After successful treatment at the rehab, you should still receive support from friends and family members. Support is essential for long-term recovery, and peer support networks are also an ideal source of valuable support for the recovery process.
Therapy in outpatient rehabs consists of several groups and individual counseling sessions in the community throughout the week. This level of care allows you to live at home or in a sober living facility rather than at the treatment facility itself. You may be educated on the disease of addiction, how to deal with cravings, and learn some of the root causes for your addiction. This is a great option for those who have a mild addiction or have family or work responsibilities.
Start Your Journey to Recovery Today
If you are struggling with stimulant addiction, you must get the help you need to find freedom. One of your best options is to attend an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab program, as there you will receive professional care that will help you to detox and get through the rough patch of recovery that occurs at the beginning. Many who have gotten free from addiction report that they learned a lot in rehab and the tools they learned carried over into their everyday lives to help them stay clean.
Addiction can cause many problems in your life, yet there is hope in recovering from it. There are plenty of substance abuse professionals and drug treatment centers equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to assist you in getting free from drug addiction.
Give us a call today for more information. We’d love to direct you to the best course of treatment for you.