Stimulant Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline & Detox

Recovering From Stimulant Addiction and Managing Withdrawal

If you’re struggling with an addiction to stimulants, recognizing that you’re not alone is an important part of recovering. Through this recognition, you can also arrive at the conclusion that support systems are available, particularly at rehab centers. Enrolling in a treatment program that specifically manages stimulant addiction and withdrawal is a pathway to a better and healthier life.

Understanding Stimulant Addiction

A number of stimulants exist, and two common ones are amphetamines and cocaine. Many people struggle with addictions to these drugs. In fact, when it comes to prescription stimulants, over 5 million people in the United States experienced issues, as shown by data collected between 2015 and 2016. Stimulants can be highly addictive, at least partially because of the feelings they produce. When people take stimulants, they often feel euphoric and confident.

The Experience of Stimulant Withdrawal

Stopping your usage of virtually any drug comes with the possibility of experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of your usage and how long you have been using are two factors that can affect how serious your withdrawal symptoms are. Some of the symptoms you might experience when withdrawing from stimulants include fatigue, a decrease in energy and activity levels, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Keep in mind that since stimulants are uppers, these drugs make you feel more energetic. Therefore, stopping your usage can very well have the opposite effect. Clearly, withdrawal from stimulants has both physical and mental effects.

Choosing Medically Supervised Withdrawal

You won’t be able to predict exactly what withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience during this part of your recovery. Therefore, choosing medically supervised withdrawal is wise. Medically supervised withdrawal means that you will go through the withdrawal process in a treatment center. You’ll be under the watch of medical professionals.

For a few reasons, choosing this type of program is the smart move. Your withdrawal symptoms could appear or change rapidly. You might experience serious physical side effects. Opting for medical withdrawal means that you’ll have experts available to help you and provide the appropriate physical support.

The mental and emotional side effects of withdrawal can be intense as well. When you’re feeling these effects, you might be inclined to start using drugs again. Being at a rehab facility during the withdrawal process will aid in protecting against that desire and cutting off your access to drugs. In short, you will have support as you begin this road to recovery.

How to Get Help for a Stimulant Addiction

Recognize Your Addiction

Recognizing that you have an addiction to stimulants is an important first step. Once you are willing to admit that a problem exists, you can then seek help. You can review a list of stimulants to determine if this type of addiction is the one that you’re struggling with. If you discover that you’re combatting a different type of addiction, keep in mind that there are treatment facilities available to help you as well. Regardless of the addiction you have, help is available.

Choose a Center Familiar With Stimulant Addiction

You want to make sure that you are working with professionals who have experience with clients who are addicted to stimulants. One option is to select a rehab facility that specifically focuses on stimulants. Keep in mind, however, that focusing only on such rehab centers might limit your options. There are plenty of wonderful treatment facilities that work with different types of addictions. While your personal treatment plan should be geared specifically toward stimulant addiction, other clients at the facility will be working on resolving different types of addictions.

Understand the Challenges

Getting help for your addiction is important, and understanding the challenges ahead is crucial as well. You may face both physical and mental side effects from withdrawal. If you are accustomed to feelings of happiness from using stimulants, you will eventually need to find other sources of joy. While this journey is a difficult one, understand that the process is worthwhile. By working with professionals at the rehab facility, you will find better and more empowering ways to love life.

Why Get Help for a Stimulant Addiction

Combatting the Hardships

Enrolling in a treatment program for stimulant addiction is important, at least partially because of the physical and emotional difficulties you may face on the road to recovery. Supportive staff members can guide you through the difficult stages and offer you strategies for coping. Trying to go through withdrawal and recovery alone can be troublesome. If you experience a bad day, you might be tempted to use drugs to bring back those feelings of euphoria. The professionals at a treatment center can provide you with strategies and tools to avoid giving in to temptation.

Addressing Effects on Your Health

Another reason to get professional treatment for stimulant addiction is so that you can address the effects that the usage has had or could have on your health. For example, you might already be facing difficulties with your heart health due to the usage of cocaine. Getting treatment can help you possibly reverse the effects that have already manifested or to prevent further damage from occurring. If your body is already heavily damaged from drug usage, you can speak with the professionals about signs to watch out for that the problems are progressing.

This information applies to your mental health as well. If you have experienced depression or suicidal thoughts, for example, you can speak with a counselor at the facility. You may discover that you have comorbidity as well. In other words, you might be struggling with addiction and another mental health issue. These issues can be revealed by going to treatment and counseling. You can work with your counselor to come up with a plan that will alleviate the various issues that you’re experiencing.

Finding New Happiness

A major struggle with stimulant addiction is letting go of the perceived happiness that the drugs brought you. In other words, when people use stimulants, they tend to experience feelings of euphoria. Stimulants can make you think that you’re feeling good when the truth is that you’re actually hurting your body and mind.

A rehab program will help you learn new ways to genuinely feel good. You may have the opportunity to explore hobbies and passions, such as writing, going on nature walks, or participating in activities. You’ll also learn about how establishing healthy bonds with other people can bring you those desired feelings of joy.

Types of Treatment Available

Stimulant-Specific Treatment and General Treatment

One option is to enroll in a program that is specifically designed for clients with stimulant addictions. The staff members at the facility will have an understanding of how to work with clients who have addictions to stimulants and what specific struggles they might face as a result. For example, you might crave the euphoria that stimulants can bring, and the staff members at the facility will be able to specifically address this struggle.

However, a general treatment program can work too. When you’re researching programs, ask a representative what experience the facility has with treating individuals who struggle with stimulant addictions. The chances are that the treatment center has some specific approaches that they employ in such situations.

Inpatient and Outpatient Programs

While looking into facilities, you should also be aware of the difference between inpatient and outpatient programs. An inpatient program is a residential program. Some of these treatment centers offer short-term stays, and other facilities are intended for more of a long-term program. The amount of time that you stay at an inpatient treatment center depends upon your specific situation.

Attending an inpatient treatment program can be an important part of a stimulant withdrawal guide. In other words, while you are going through withdrawal symptoms, being surrounded by supportive and nurturing staff members is important. Enrolling in an inpatient program also gives you the time necessary to focus exclusively on your recovery. Instead of worrying about daily obligations and responsibilities at home, you can dedicate yourself to becoming free from addiction.

Of course, moving into a treatment center is not a possibility for everyone, and you can still have a productive experience at an outpatient facility. When you enroll in an outpatient treatment program, you may go for regular meetings or programs. An outpatient facility can work well in conjunction with inpatient treatment too. After you finish a program at an inpatient facility, you can continue with your treatment at an outpatient location. The outpatient location may be an independent entity, or the space could be affiliated with your inpatient treatment center.

Local or Distant

If you’re enrolling in an outpatient program, you’ll likely want to attend a facility that is close to your home. If you wish to have some distance from your regular neighborhood surroundings, you could look into a program that is a couple of communities away.

When you’re choosing inpatient treatment, you’ll need to decide if you want to stay in the local area or go to a center on the other side of the state or country. At first, you may want to stay as close to home as possible. However, consider the fact that the best program for you may be located somewhere else. Try not to let the location factor weigh too heavily into your decision about where to go. The main goal is to find the right treatment program. In fact, moving into a new environment for a short period of time can be the rejuvenating element that you need to recover from addiction.

Religious, Spiritual, or Secular

You’ll also need to decide if you want to get treatment in a religious, spiritual, or secular setting. A religious treatment facility might require you to be an active member of the faith. This type of treatment center will likely have religious practices incorporated into regular activities. For example, there might be an hour dedicated to prayer each day.

Some treatment centers also take a more spiritual approach to addiction recovery. While you do not necessarily need to believe in a specific religion, the approaches will be guided by spirituality at times. You may be invited to participate in prayer or meditation at certain stages of your recovery. You may also be asked to join in group activities where all members profess a belief in a higher power.

If you do not want religion or spirituality brought into your recovery, you can certainly choose a secular program. This type of program is unlikely to have elements such as prayer or belief in a higher power involved in the discussions and treatment plans.

The Approach

The overall approach that treatment centers use can vary from location to location. Many facilities will incorporate individual therapy, group counseling, healthy living lessons, and creative activities into the program. Still, though, these various treatments can be guided by some overriding principles. Some programs may use cognitive behavioral therapy or rational emotive behavior therapy to help you recover. Other programs might use art therapy as a major means of delivering healthy strategies for addiction recovery.

When you’re checking out options for treatment, ask about the approaches that the facilities use. Then, you can pose questions about what that type of treatment might look like on a regular day at the facility or in a standard counseling session. Learning more about what to expect can help you to feel confident when you start treatment.

Making the decision to get treatment isn’t easy, and you should feel proud of yourself for getting this far. You’ve taken a step toward completing your goals. Now is the time to begin researching programs more specifically. You can think about what type of treatment you want to have and start talking with representatives at facilities that you’re interested in. Know that you’re on your way to a healthier and happier life.

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Reviewed By:

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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