Understanding the Most Common Meth Comedown Symptoms
Part of what makes taking illegal drugs so dangerous is how quickly addiction can set in. This is especially true with a drug like meth, because of the fast, intense high it produces. This, coupled with how quickly the high wears off, leads the user to crave more of the drug to maintain the sense of euphoria.
Taking more of the drug will also stave off the comedown symptoms of meth – another motivator that leads to an illicit drug addiction. In this blog, we’ll cover some of the most common symptoms a person coming down off of a meth high may encounter. We’ll also discuss the differences between comedown and withdrawal.
But first, here are some quick facts on meth addiction.
Meth, short for methamphetamine, is a member of the amphetamines family of drugs. Meth is a synthetic drug, meaning it is man-made. It is typically made from a simple a combination of an over-the-counter drug that can be found in cold medications, such as pseudoephedrine, and other unstable and dangerous toxic chemicals. Meth is often made in makeshift laboratories in trailers, motor homes, barns, sheds, motels and other structures and vehicles.
The result is a highly addictive drug that can cause permanent damage to a person’s brain and body. On the streets, meth is also known as crystal, glass, ice, crank, and more.
Meth can be produced in pill form as well as a powder or chunks. It will often appear blue or white. Meth is most commonly taken by smoking the drug because it allows for a quicker, almost immediate effect on the brain. This fast high is what makes meth so popular. Meth can also be swallowed, snorted or injected.
Meth is dangerous because of the prolonged effects it causes to the brain and central nervous system. Meth targets dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that acts as our body’s pleasure center. Dopamine is directly responsible for feelings of pleasure, reward, motivation, and motor function. When a person uses meth, it triggers a remarkable amount of dopamine to be released, causing the signature intense rush that the drug is known for.
While this is indeed the reason the drug is so popular, the problem is that the quick high that users experience fades quickly, leading to more doses and addiction. Users will need to consistently use the drug to maintain a sustained feeling of euphoria. A user can become addicted quickly, and their addiction can become so severe that the person addicted to the drug will do anything they can to get it, and often neglect their other needs, such as work, food, or sleep.
Meth addiction can cause a person to lose their job, home, and damage relationships with friends and family. In addition, another sign of meth addiction is that person causing harm to their health and psyche. Nothing good can come from using meth, and the longer a person abuses the drug, the worse things will get.
Unfortunately, quitting isn’t as easy as just throwing up your hands and saying “I quit!” The comedown from a meth high will be a difficult first step to deal with, especially if the person has been abusing meth for an extended period of time. Not only will quitting be more difficult for a long-time user but the longer the usage, the worse the comedown symptoms will be as well.
How Is A Comedown Different Than Withdrawal?
Meth comedown can be felt after a single use and is closer to a hangover than withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening, whereas comedowns are not as severe unless the psychological strain leads a person to cause his or herself harm.
Both withdrawal and comedowns are caused by a combination of an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, the drug’s chemicals being metabolized into toxins that then build up in the user’s body, and physical exhaustion brought on the euphoria of the drug.
How Long Does It Take For Meth Comedown Symptoms To Set In?
In general, meth use side effects can last for up to eight hours, depending on the dose. The drug’s comedown effects will start to set in as soon as the drug begins wearing off. These comedown symptoms can lead to some very real psychological and physical problems.
What Are The Most Common Meth Comedown Symptoms?
Meth comedown symptoms can be quite intense and will vary from user to user and have a lot of underlying factors, such as previous drug usage, drug tolerance, how long they have been using meth, genetic factors, physical composition and more. However, there are some common symptoms associated with a meth comedown.
Feelings of Depression
The most common and most troublesome meth comedown symptom is depression and its associated feelings, such as hopelessness and sadness. The depression a person may feel coming down from meth will last longer and is also far more severe than the feelings of depression felt during a comedown from a drug like cocaine. Coming down from meth is not quite as dangerous as the comedown from heroin, but can still be the cause for some unpleasant feelings. Many people will continue to use to avoid these feelings of despair.
The depressive feelings felt during comedown are due to meths longer-term effects on the pleasure center of the brain. Meth increases the amount of dopamine in the brain’s reward center, creating that sense of euphoria that users crave. However, when you take that extra dopamine away, the dopamine receptors will be reduced as well.
This can cause long-term users to no longer be able to feel pleasure because there is no dopamine nor any dopamine receptors left in their system. If a person ends up going through meth withdrawal, it can take up to two years of keeping clean to restore normal dopamine function. This is why meth addicts often relapse–because they are too depressed to continue their recovery. Regardless, a person who takes meth is going to want more, either replicating their high or out of the need to escape the feelings experienced during the meth comedown.
However, those that don’t relapse will see the feelings of depression subside as their system recovers. Some will have significant depressive symptoms that can even include thoughts of suicide.
Cravings For More Meth
Paired with any symptom of meth comedown is the thought response produced by the drug – that if you take another hit, the symptoms will go away. Cravings for meth are exceptionally strong will only intensify the more a person uses the drug. The human body can also develop a tolerance to meth’s narcotic effects rather quickly. Once the body has experienced the false sense of confidence and strength the drug produces, it will want more. This is the cycle that leads to meth addiction.
However, if a person can get past the initial phase, the cravings have been noted to decline rapidly with a drug like meth. A user’s craving for meth may also be associated with the level of depression they are feeling during their comedown. Depending on how intense the feelings are, a casual user can quickly turn into a full-blown addict.
Insomnia, Excessive Sleepiness, and Lethargy
Some users of meth can eat and sleep as they normally would and maintain their work. During their high, some users may feel invincible, as if they never need to sleep again. But a person coming down from meth will often be unable to sleep despite feeling exhausted. The lack of sleep can lead to other problems and often cause the person to use again, wrongfully thinking they need meth to be productive.
While some may experience a period of sleeplessness despite their exhaustion, others may completely crash and sleep up to 11 hours a day for a week or more, only waking to go to the bathroom and eat. These are mainly long-time meth abusers.
A person experiencing withdrawal from meth will see their appetite decrease dramatically, however, a person coming down from meth may experience the opposite. The effects of the drug can often take away a person’s need or desire to eat. But as they come down of the drug, the hunger may return, and quite intensely. The hunger sensors in the body will be turned on all at once, immensely craving carbohydrates.
The weight loss virtue of the drug is temporary, and can actually lead to weight gain on the other side of recovery. In short, meth is not a safe, healthy nor practical way to quickly lose a couple pounds.
Muscle Weakness and Fatigue
Coming down from a meth high can often be physically exhausting because of the massive amount of dopamine a dose produces. As it wears off, the body is being sapped of this energy. Without anything to replace it, the person will feel weak and tired.
Coming down from meth will often leave a person feeling anxious. This can cause some excessive worry and irrational fears. While the feelings are usually fleeting, depending on the dosage, they can often be quite intense. An already anxious person will be extremely skittish during a meth comedown.
While not necessarily a symptom, meth comedowns can sometimes lead to binges, known as “tweaking.”
As a person experiences comedown symptoms from a stimulant like meth, they may begin to take more and start abusing the drug. The depression and physical weakness felt during a meth comedown may be too much for a person and they turn back to the drug to avoid these feelings.
This may lead to a binge, which is dangerous. Tweaking can lead to more symptoms, and more severe symptoms, as well as growing the potential for a deadly overdose or causing long-term harm to a person’s brain and body.
Tweaking also will lead to the symptoms listed above growing in intensity when the drug begins to wear off after the binge, leading to another, and so on. During a tweaking episode, a person may not sleep for three to 15 days. They will deal with intense symptoms, and the euphoria they felt before won’t occur after a few doses, yet they will still struggle with the negative aspects. Other symptoms like paranoia and psychosis can emerge, and tweakers will often hallucinate or become delusional without sleep.
Meth tweakers will often become psychotic and hallucinate that bugs are on or under their skin, causing them to scratch and pick at their skin, potentially leading to infection. They may even harm themselves or others.
They may develop repetitive behaviors where they obsessively take objects apart and put them back together. They will be dehydrated, irritable, in physical pain and may even become aggressive.
Coming down off of a binge will most likely see the person experience a total crash of physical and mental exhaustion. They may sleep for several days and suffer from malnutrition from failing or forgetting to eat. The mental side effects will be very severe. Unfortunately, many will use again when they wake up to avoid the intense depression. This could be the start of another tweaking episode and make their dependence to meth worse.
So while the comedown symptoms of meth on their own are, for the most part, not dangerous, the binge that may result from a meth comedown is and can be as severe as it gets if things get out of a person’s control.
How Long Do Meth Comedown Symptoms Last?
There are many factors that play into how long a person’s meth comedown symptoms may last. Comedown symptoms could last for just a few days after a person’s last use. This goes mainly for symptoms like depression and anxiety.
However, if meth is abused as a party drug and mixed with alcohol or other drugs, the comedown period can last much longer. The symptoms will also feel much intense when combined with other substances. Mixing substances are also very dangerous and can cause an overdose. But the symptoms should sort themselves out if the person does not use more meth.
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