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Stimulant Detox

Stimulant withdrawal can be especially debilitating, increasing the likelihood of relapse for recovering users. Medically-supervised detox can ensure a safer and more successful treatment plan for stimulant addiction.

What Is Stimulant Detox?

The first step in overcoming a stimulant addiction is detox, or detoxification. Stimulant detox is used to safely and successfully purge the body of stimulants so that recovering users can proceed to the next stage of addiction treatment. Detox is most effective when preformed under the supervision of health professionals, as medical detox programs can help manage the debilitating symptoms of withdrawal.

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What Are Stimulants?

Stimulants are a class of psychoactive substance that includes a wide range of drugs such as Amphetamines, Methamphetamine, and Cocaine. Sometimes called “uppers,” these drugs temporarily increase energy, attention, and alertness, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. The most famous stimulant drugs include Ecstasy, Crystal Meth, and Adderall.

Stimulants are highly addictive but are commonly prescribed to treat multiple health conditions, including: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, obesity, narcolepsy, and medication-resistant depression. The dramatic increase in stimulant prescriptions over the past few decades have led to their greater availability and increased risk for diversion and non-medical use among the general population.

As with other drugs, people can become physically dependent on or addicted to stimulants. Withdrawal symptoms associated with discontinued stimulant use include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Increased appetite
  • Body aches
  • Paranoia
  • Impaired memory
  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Dulled senses

The Process of Stimulant Detox

Most stimulant detox regimens operate under the tapering-off method, in which recovering users will decrease doses of the stimulant substance over the course of a few weeks until use stops completely. This reduces an individual’s physical dependence on the drug and lessens the severity of withdrawal. Detox should always be performed under the supervision of a medical professional, and a person suffering from a stimulant addiction should never attempt to quit “cold turkey,” or abruptly stop taking the drug after prolonged and consistent use, as this will worsen symptoms of withdrawal. Occasionally, medications can be used during the treatment process, and most patients benefit from recurring sessions of group therapy or individual counseling.

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Stages of Stimulant Detox

Recovering users will experience symptoms of stimulant withdrawal during the detox period. The stimulant withdrawal timeline is dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of stimulant an individual is dependent on, how long an individual has misused the drug, and the dosage that an individual typically took.

Stimulants affect the body’s central nervous system and increase neurotransmitter activity inside the brain which can create a sense of euphoria and enhanced concentration. Stimulants, whether prescription or illicit, can cause addiction and physical dependence. After heavy or prolonged use, the user’s brain becomes reliant on the drugs to provide surges of dopamine and regulate cognitive function. When the body is deprived of the drug during detox, the recovering user will experience withdrawal symptoms as the brain relearns how to function on its own without the aid of stimulants.

Many of the symptoms of withdrawal generally present within a few hours to several days after stopping usage of the drug, and most symptoms typically peak within about a week.

Stimulant Withdrawal Timeline
Days 1-3 This is typically when the initial crash is felt and the first symptoms of withdrawal begin to appear. During the first 24 to 72 hours, former users begin to experience fatigue, body aches, anxiety, and general feelings of unhappiness with life. They’ll also start to have cravings for the stimulant drug they previously abused and may have trouble sleeping. Heavy users may experience hallucinations, paranoia, and panic attacks.
Days 4-10 Symptoms of withdrawal typically last about seven days. Towards the end of the first week, most symptoms begin to subside, but drug cravings in some can become more intense. Extreme fatigue and depression are also common during this time period.
Days 11-17 While the majority of symptoms will have diminished within 96 hours to a few weeks, some psychological symptoms can be ongoing. Depression and insomnia may continue, and for some, insomnia can lead to hypersomnia or excessive sleeping. Some users may also experience mood swings.
Days 18+ The worst of withdrawal symptoms are typically over at this point. Any remaining symptoms should be mild and will continue to fade with time. However, for some, depression and cravings may continue for up to several more weeks or months before they subside.

Seeking Treatment for Stimulant Detox

There currently are no approved medications for stimulant detox; however, doctors can prescribe medications to help alleviate certain symptoms of withdrawal. Professional monitoring in a medical detox facility can provide people undergoing withdrawal the physical and emotional support needed for a successful recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to stimulants and need help finding a detox center, contact a dedicated treatment provider today.

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