The term stimulant is a broad one. The stimulant drug class is anything that speeds up certain functions and brain activity. Stimulants affect neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine, and when misused, they can create a sense of euphoria and other desirable effects in people who take them. For example, stimulants may be misused to improve performance or cognitive function, to increase sociability, to lose weight or to have more energy and alertness. Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Along with prescription stimulants, other stimulants include illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine. Some of the effects of stimulants can include increased heart rate and blood pressure, increased respiration and raised body temperature. Stimulants, whether prescription or street drugs, can cause addiction and dependence to develop as well. If someone’s dependent on a stimulant drug and they stop using it suddenly or attempt to cut down on their dosage, they may have withdrawal symptoms. Many stimulant withdrawal symptoms are described as rebound symptoms, and they can be the exact opposite of the effects of the drug. Common stimulant withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Sleep Distrubances
- Increased hunger
- Feelings of apathy
- Drug cravings
- Low energy
The stimulant withdrawal timeline can vary quite a bit depending on certain factors. First, the specific stimulant a person is dependent on is important. An extended-release ADHD drug is likely to have a longer withdrawal time than a fast-acting and quickly metabolized stimulant like cocaine. Also relevant are individual factors like how long someone misused the drug, how often and the dosages they typically took. For the most part, as soon as the effects of the drug wear off, a person may experience a crash. A stimulant crash can include feelings of sadness, depression and agitation. That can occur very quickly.
Following the initial crash, within around 24 to 36 hours after the last dose of a stimulant is taken, a person will usually start to feel extremely tired and increasingly depressed, and they will likely have sleep problems, like insomnia and vivid dreams. Most stimulant withdrawal symptoms will end anywhere from 96 hours to a few weeks after the last dose of the drug is taken. Some psychological symptoms can be ongoing, however. For example, a person may experience depression for months after they stop using stimulants.
For most people, symptoms of stimulant withdrawal aren’t life-threatening. A person who uses something like a prescription stimulant may just need to follow a schedule of tapering down their dosage, as instructed by a medical professional. For some people who use stimulants, withdrawal can be more severe. Severe complications most often include suicidal thoughts, suicide ideation or suicidal behaviors. Managing severe symptoms of stimulant withdrawal may require a medically-supervised detox. Other psychological symptoms that can require monitoring and a medical detox include paranoia, violent outbursts, aggression or panic.
There aren’t specific stimulant detox medications approved like there are with other drug classes, such as opioids. However, it may be necessary for someone to receive certain medications to treat their specific symptoms of stimulant withdrawal. As an example, someone might require psychological medications or sleep aids. If someone is malnourished from ongoing stimulant misuse, they may require nutritional interventions. These are some of the scenarios where stimulant medications and a professional detox can be the right option. Professional monitoring in a detox facility can provide not only physical support and comfort but can also help people emotionally as they go through withdrawal. Having the support available in a medical detox can improve the chances someone will successfully go through withdrawal and begin addiction treatment.
There are quite a few considerations to keep in mind when choosing a stimulant center detox program. First, is inpatient or outpatient care likely to be the better option? How close to home does the participant want to be? Do they want to stay near friends and family, or could that be problematic for them during treatment? Who are the professionals that provide treatment in the medical detox? Are they both medical professionals and psychological professionals? Is dual diagnosis treatment provided for co-occurring mental health conditions? These are all important questions to ask before choosing a stimulant center.
The Recovery Village specializes in individualized detox and addiction treatment. We’re here now if you’d like to talk more.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.