Stimulant withdrawal may lead to a variety of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The stimulant withdrawal symptoms you might experience during detox and withdrawal is very different from the feelings of euphoria you experienced while on the drug. Stimulants have a withdrawal period characterized by depression, low energy, and lethargy. While stimulant withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, it can deeply impact your physical and emotional states.
How Stimulant Withdrawal Affects the Brain
Stimulant drugs impact your body’s central nervous system while increasing your neurotransmitters in the brain. Stimulants are typically used to increase your focus and cognitive ability, especially if you are a student and/or athlete. Once your brain has gotten used to having the drugs regulate cognitive function and focus, it becomes harder to function without being dependent on the drug.
Prescription stimulants increase brain activity chemicals including dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine is responsible for getting pleasures and rewards while norepinephrine impacts the brain’s central nervous system including blood vessels, blood pressure, heart rate, and activity, blood sugar, and breathing.
Although prescription stimulants give a sense of pleasure from being high, it profoundly affects not just the brain but the rest of your body. The higher the dose, the more dangerous the risk of an increased number of seizures, irregularly high body temperature, irregular heartbeat, and heart failure.
Severe psychological withdrawal symptoms can lead to relapse while another individual may become suicidal or violent. This is why medical detox is essential when trying to come clean from stimulants.
Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
Stimulant withdrawal can be very deadly, and it is not recommended to quit cold turkey. You can expect to experience a wide range of signs and symptoms, which may vary on a number of factors including history of use, tolerance, and your general metabolism.
Once off the drug, you might experience a shift between unhappiness and one or more of the following symptoms:
- Jittery reactions
- Dulled senses
- Slowed speech
- Loss of interest
- Slowed movements
- Slow heart rate
- Increased appetite
- Impaired memory
- Weight loss or gaunt appearance
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Body aches
- Drug cravings
- Unpleasant dreams
If you suffer from a history of clinical depression, stimulant withdrawal can be highly severe. This period may be even further complicated if you have other addictions or mental disorders that might cause you to experience more severe symptoms.
Stimulant Withdrawal Timeline
After you discontinue a stimulant drug, you will typically experience a “crash” in the form of four phases, which can continue from five days to three weeks or more.
These phases typically include:
Early Crash Phase (a few hours – a few days)
Stimulant withdrawal symptoms are a combination of physical such as movement problems and psychological which include: anxiety, fatigue, low mood, paranoia and delusions, nightmarish dreams.
Next is the middle crash phase which includes the following symptoms: fatigue, increasing depression, a certain numbness to experiencing a good feeling, a low level of mental and physical energy, insomnia, and ends with an ongoing craving for sleep that ranges from 24 to 36 hours.
Late Crash Phase is characterized by a period of intense hunger.
The final stage of protracted withdrawal is characterized by deep cravings and other withdrawal symptoms such as anhedonia (a loss of interest in daily activities) and dysphoria (one’s general dissatisfaction with life).
What are the Stimulant Withdrawal Treatment Steps?
Treatment for stimulant addiction can be customized in a variety of formats, but a full continuum of treatment ensures a successful recovery.
A full continuum of treatment starts with a medically-supervised detox and progresses to inpatient, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient and aftercare. The focus of medical detox at Arete Recovery is physical and mental stability. For a long time, the brain has been programmed to be drug-dependent. In a relapse, dopamine norepinephrine will decrease which will complicate the withdrawal process. Having the support of caring doctors and nurses helps ensure that all substances and toxins are completely removed from the system before you are able to continue with the next stages of treatment. Although highly uncomfortable, it’s key for withdrawing from stimulants and preventing relapse.
It might seem easy to do at first, but do not attempt to self-detox at home. It can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and even a relapse which can even trigger your addiction again.
The greater your success with medical detox, the better your chances will be of completing overall treatment. Successful detox determines your success with the rest of the treatment. Overcoming the first stage of detox is a huge milestone which means the physical symptoms of withdrawal become less intense as you pass the critical twenty-four mark.
Once you are in the clear from detox and there is no trace of residue or toxins, you are ready for the next step of drug treatment at an inpatient or outpatient program also offered at Arete Recovery. Both forms of treatment offer ways to identify triggers and coping mechanisms to deal with the addiction. You’ll be able to experience intensive behavioral therapy, counseling and individual and group therapy sessions.
Residential or inpatient treatment at Arete Recovery focuses on helping you get to the root cause of your psychological addiction to stimulants and ways to stay clean for life. Contrary to a residence, these recovery programs are typically offered in either a drug rehab center or a hospital. Your number one goal will be to get weaned off the drugs and break your cycle of addiction once and for all.
Group and/or Individual Therapy Treatment
These options are designed to help you get to the root cause of your addiction. Some treatment centers favor group therapy over individual therapy which is commonly referred to as cognitive behavior therapy. Working through your feelings is critical to identifying the triggers.
But the focus of both behavioral treatments is the same — to help you identify new thinking patterns behind your reasoning for taking stimulants. Group therapy has been known to create a sense of unity around community and sharing stories, so you don’t feel at the mercy of your own addiction.