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.
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 in order to improve behavior, stay focused, be more sociable, improve confidence, or feel less hungry.
Common stimulants include:
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 in order 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.
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:
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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:
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 report that after about a week, most symptoms have subsided, with the exception of 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.
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 on 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.
To recover from a 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.
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 so as 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 group 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.
If you are struggling with stimulant addiction, it is important that you get the help you need in order to find freedom. One of your best options is to attend an inpatient oroutpatient 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.
Drug Free World. Stimulants. Retrieved from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/prescription/stimulants.html
Medscape. Stimulants. Retrieved from https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/289007-overview
SAMHSA. (2006) Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 45. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64119/
Very Well Mind. (2018, October 26). An Overview of Stimulants and How They’re Used. Cherry, Kendra. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-stimulants-2795573
Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. (2011, January 8) The Dopamine Dilemma—Part II. Could Stimulants Cause Tolerance, Dependence, and Paradoxical Decompensation? Clinical Examination of ADHD, Stimulants, and Tolerance. Yanofski, J. MD. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036556/