Coming Down From Cocaine, Meth, Ecstasy and Other Drugs
1. What to Do If You Must Help Someone Come Down From Drugs
2. What Is Happening to the Body as the Drugs Wear Off?
3. Coming Down From a Cocaine High
4. Coming Down From Meth/Speed
5. Coming Down From Ecstasy
For many drug users, the cycle of addiction begins with using drugs because of the euphoria that comes from ingesting various substances. The attitude of “if it feels good, it must be okay” is eventually replaced with a driving need to obtain and use more drugs. Stimulants like cocaine, meth and Ecstasy create one feeling, while alcohol and other central nervous system depressants create another. Some drug users will mix stimulants and depressants to control the level of the high they experience or to mitigate the unpleasant feelings that arise from “coming down.”
That’s right – drug use has an unpleasant side that has nothing to do with addiction and the long-term symptoms of withdrawal or detoxification. This side effect of drug abuse is 100 percent unavoidable and will happen, regardless of the kind of drugs taken. The “crash” is sometimes quick, lasting a few hours. It can also take days before the full cycle is reached. In all cases, the effects can be very difficult to bear. Simply metabolizing an illicit drug out of one’s system is always unpleasant. In fact, coming down from a high can even be painful and life threatening.
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What to Do If You Must Help Someone Come Down From Drugs
There are few rules of thumb that should be used when you are faced with a loved one who is coming down from a drug use episode. The most important of these is to always keep you and other family members or friends safe. People who are coming off some kinds of drugs may become irritable or violent as they seek to replace the feelings of euphoria with another drug binge. Some drugs heighten feelings of paranoia that don’t go away simply because a drug use episode is coming to an end. The feelings may continue indefinitely and may cause the individual to react to simple events with fear. This fear can cause them to lash out in what feels like self-defense to them. If this happens, protect yourself first and call for help.
Once you have established that you are safe, you may be faced with a difficult decision. Health issues and complications can develop as someone is coming down from cocaine, meth, Ecstasy and other drugs. The person’s health must be considered the primary issue here. Do not be afraid to call for professional medical help; you could be saving your loved one’s life.
Someone coming off a stimulant high may ask for help to obtain a central nervous system depressant such as Xanax or marijuana in order to alleviate the symptoms of the stimulant crash. Mixing drugs is never a good idea. Talk to your friend and help them to understand that the effects are only temporary and using more drugs will not truly solve the problem. Because the individual may not be rational, it is a good idea to leave more detailed discussions about entering a recovery program until the symptoms have passed. Use your best judgment, however, and if the individual is willing to discuss seeking help for an addiction disease, let them.
Something else to watch for while coming down from a high is the emotional state of the drug user as it relates to massive episodes of depression. It is impossible to know what effect a depressive episode will have on any one individual. Does the individual have a major depression issue that has been undiagnosed? Has the individual had a history of harming himself in the past? If possible, never leave an individual in this state alone. Watch carefully for any concerning signs of imminent danger and again, don’t be afraid to call for help if necessary.
When the human body has been exposed to the toxins found in drugs over the course of a binge, there is a good chance that the body has been deprived of necessary vitamins and minerals. This can build up over time with regular drug use, as well. Not only can the substances being abused deplete the system of the fuel it needs to operate correctly, the reckless lifestyle that often accompanies drug abuse does not lend itself to regular, wholesome or nutritious meals. As the individual is experiencing the crash that follows drug abuse, preparing healthy meals may help to build the system back to a working standard.
Finally, distraction is an art form when it comes to helping a friend cope with a drug-related emotional and physical crash. Watching uplifting or comedic movies or playing games can help take the individual’s mind off the drug-seeking behaviors that generally follow an episode of drug use. It can also alleviate some of the depression experienced during the crash period.
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What Is Happening to the Body as the Drugs Wear Off?
Depending upon the type of drug ingested, the “crash” actually begins immediately after taking the drug. Some drugs have effects that last longer than others, but the body begins to metabolize the drugs immediately, regardless of the kinds of drugs taken. While the drug user is feeling the temporary euphoria that they expect from the drugs they take, the body is processing the drugs through major, vital organs in the early stages of coming down. For instance, the liver’s function is to process toxins from the body. All drugs are toxins, or contain toxins added during the manufacturing process. Because this excess of toxins is processed by the liver and removed from the body as waste, the damage to the liver is continual with every episode of drug use. During the “come down” from drugs, the liver is working exceptionally hard to protect the body from the drugs ingested.
One of the most dangerous comedowns in the world of alcohol and drug abuse is the end of a binge drinking episode. When an individual has taken in enough alcohol to “pass out,” one might think that the problem is solved. The drinking has stopped and the drinker will “sleep it off.” Unfortunately, while they might appear to be coming down from the alcohol-induced high, the body is processing the alcohol remaining in the stomach. Even in perceived sleep, which could actually be a state of unconsciousness or even a coma, the body continues to be poisoned while the liver tries desperately to metabolize the toxins. A person’s blood alcohol content can, therefore, continue to rise even after the party is over.
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Coming Down From a Cocaine High
Cocaine is a highly addictive drug that acts on the pleasure center of the brain. By attaching to the dopamine transmitters in the brain, the body’s normal function of reabsorbing excess dopamine is cut off. At the same time, cocaine encourages the brain to create and release more dopamine into the synapse. The resulting influx and excess of dopamine creates an intense sense of happiness and euphoria for the cocaine addict.
As with any other physical principle, what goes up, must come down. As the rather short-term high derived from cocaine begins to wear off, the brain suffers a sudden depletion of dopamine. In effect, the brain knows it has created enough dopamine for a while, and turns off the dopamine-producing activity. Sooner rather than later, there is a dearth, instead of an excess of dopamine in the brain, which gives the cocaine addict an equally strong feeling of depression and sadness. With long-term use, the brain may cease to create natural dopamine permanently. The initial emotional crash after using cocaine – the first comedown – is part of what makes cocaine so addictive. The cocaine user will seek to recapture the first high by using more and more of the drug in its many forms. Subsequent highs are never as pleasurable as the first one, but the comedowns tend to worsen.
The effects of cocaine are not restricted to the emotional, however. Along with a feeling of elation, the cocaine user will experience increased blood pressure, body temperature and heart rate. These manifestations of cocaine continue throughout the user’s experience and can wreak havoc on the body during the coming down phase of the high. The mixture of elements combines to create physical nausea, among other possible risks, including:
- Respiratory failure
- Heart attack
Coming Down From Meth/Speed
There is a subtle difference between meth and speed. Meth, or methamphetamine, lasts longer in the system and episodes of abuse can last for days. Speed on the other hand, or amphetamines, has a shorter duration. The come down from either of these highly addictive stimulants are very similar, however. Depending upon how much of the drug is ingested, the come down can last for several hours or several days.
Meth and speed abusers will often experience paranoia, depression and mood swings once they begin to come down. They may begin to feel restless and be unable to sit still. Eventually, as the tweaking and twitching wears off, the individual may become tired and, when coupled with the depression issues, wish to sleep as much as possible. Primarily, however, the come down is marked by an urge to obtain more stimulant drugs, including meth or speed, in order to stave away the anxiety that comes from sobriety.
Meth users, in particular, are prone to violence during the coming down phase.
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Coming Down From Ecstasy
Ecstasy (MDMA) is a drug that operates much like other drugs when it affects the brain, with one subtle but significant difference. Like cocaine or meth, Ecstasy creates a euphoric feeling by attaching itself to the neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and norepinephrine. Ecstasy also attaches itself in greater amounts to serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that affects emotional balance. Serotonin helps to control pain, sleep and mood. This is why individuals who take Ecstasy often experience a surge of emotions that mimic love and peace.
Coming down from the effects of drugs, like cocaine, meth and Ecstasy, as well as alcohol is completely unnecessary if one is willing to seek help for an addiction problem. Addiction is a treatable and manageable disease that does not have to dictate every decision in the lives of those who suffer from it. If you or someone you love is ready to find out more, please contact us here at Alta Mira. Let us help you formulate a specific and personal plan for recovery today.
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