When you want help with your stimulant use disorder, it is understandable you want to know what to expect when detoxing from stimulants. When you can be prepared and know what you may experience, it can help you take the first steps to recovery.
What Are Stimulants?
Stimulants consist of multiple drugs that all increase the central nervous system and brain activity. Prescription and illicit street stimulants are used for different reasons, such as for ADHD, obesity, narcolepsy, recreationally, and to enhance performance.
What Are Some Common Stimulants?
Some of the more common stimulants you probably have heard of include:
- Amphetamines (Adderall, Dexedrine)
- Methamphetamines (Meth, Crystal Meth)
- Cocaine (Coke, Blow)
- Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)
- Prescription Diet Pills (Fastin, Didrex, Adipex P)
- Methcathinone and Synthetic Cathinones (Bath Salts, Star Dust, Ephedrine, Cat)
How Do Stimulants Make You Feel?
Stimulants often make someone feel more energetic, alert, awake, and confident. For example, when someone is taking stimulants for ADHD, the drug helps them focus. Stimulants can also cause a person to experience the following sensations:
- Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
- Increased confidence
- Lowered inhibitions
- Increased sexual arousal
- Reduced appetite
When stimulants are used for a longer period, where the body develops a tolerance to the drugs, higher doses are required to achieve these effects. In addition, a person could also experience the following side effects:
- Mood swings
- Accidental overdose
Why Is It Hard to Quit Using Stimulants?
Stimulants increase the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Elevated levels of serotonin make us feel happy, which can lead to euphoria. Dopamine is associated with pleasure and reward. An increase in dopamine makes us feel good. In addition, elevated levels of dopamine reinforce the behaviors that caused their release. As a result, it is easy for someone to start to develop carvings for stimulants. Norepinephrine regulates mood and the ability to focus and concentrate, making us feel more energetic.
When someone attempts to quit stimulants “cold turkey,” the levels of these neurotransmitters are out of balance. As a result, the brain is deficient, so someone experiences a crash as it takes time for the body to replenish these neurotransmitters and restore balance. The brain also has to relearn how to function on its own, with stimulants forcing the release of these neurotransmitters. Furthermore, the person will experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms and intense stimulant cravings. Some withdrawal symptoms can be pretty unpleasant, and the only way to get them to stop is to resume taking stimulants.
Detoxing from Stimulants Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the person’s tolerance to stimulants, the length of time they have been used, the amount being taken, and the frequency of use. Generally, withdrawal symptoms one can experience include the following:
- Problems concentrating and focusing
- Increased appetite
- Lack of energy
- Body aches
Detoxing from Stimulants Timeline
Withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from stimulants usually begin within a few hours of the last dose but could take up to three days to appear. During this initial phase, one can experience headaches, body aches, sadness, and anxiety. The person can either become overly sleepy or go through periods of insomnia. Those who used stimulants long term and took high doses can also experience panic attacks, hallucinations, and paranoia.
From day four to around day ten, withdrawal symptoms will become more intense and include chills, nausea, and vomiting. Dehydration can also be a concern, so drinking plenty of fluids during detox is essential. The cravings for stimulants will also increase and become more frequent.
Typically, the symptoms will peak between day seven and day ten. The symptoms will gradually wane and subside from day eleven to day seventeen. The person will notice an increase in their appetite and can still experience excessive sleeping, sadness, depression, and anxiety. Irritability and mood swings are also common during this time.
However, these symptoms will continue to subside, and most people find around day eighteen to twenty-one, they no longer have a physical addiction to stimulants. Although, their psychological dependence and cravings can continue to last for months, called PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome). PAWS symptoms do eventually lessen the longer a person remains drug-free.
Safely Detoxing from Stimulants
The safest way to detox from stimulants is at a medical detox center, where the detox treatment is medically supervised by healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. During detox, certain prescription drugs can be used to lessen withdrawal symptoms, such as taking an antidepressant to offset depression or medication to help with insomnia.
Supervised detox also allows your treatment to be tailored to your needs. For example, some people cannot quit stimulants “cold turkey” even when they are in a medical detox center. Instead, they must gradually lower their dosage in a process called “tapering off.”
Detox from Stimulants at our Medical Detox Center in Nashville, TN
When you want help quitting stimulants, Detox Nashville in Tennessee is here to help. Our medical detox center provides a safe, supportive, and caring environment to detox from stimulants safely. To start your detox treatment, contact us today.