One of the biggest things that induces a relapse is the feeling of a comedown. This is a common feeling that comes after taking drugs or even alcohol and can induce feelings of depression and misery.
What is a Comedown?
Many recreational drugs create a wash of ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, these cause intense feelings of euphoria and, depending on the drug, a surge of energy.
Once this energy comes to a halt, your body is forced to come down back to normal levels and during this time, feelings alter and this is known as the ‘come down’. The comedown is generally a loosely defined term used to describe the period following the high rush from drugs when the sense of euphoria disappears, and far less pleasant feelings and sensations follow.
‘Comedowns’ can be felt differently depending on the substance that has been used, the frequency and the amount of time substance misuse has been going on for.
For example, a cocaine comedown can be a very different experience from an acid comedown,, although there may be some common elements.
People tend to use the term ‘comedown’ in relation to the aftereffects of stimulants like cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines, as well as psychedelics or hallucinogens. Opioids (including heroin), which produce an intense effect or high, can also lead to an extremely severe comedown.
Other substances, such as alcohol and cannabis, can also produce unpleasant after-effects, but these are not always referred to as comedowns.
The after-effects of drinking too much alcohol are generally known as a hangover which could be known as an alcohol comedown, which is usually associated with physical effects such as dehydration. The ‘weed hangover’ is more anecdotal, but limited studies suggest that individuals can suffer ill effects that are comparable to a hangover.
Long-term users might also develop a dependency on the drug, which is when they reach a point where their system depends on the drugs being present. In this case, when you stop using the substance, you might experience withdrawal symptoms that go beyond a regular comedown.
How Long Does a Comedown Last?
One of the biggest questions is how long does a comedown last? A comedown will typically last 2-3 days but ultimately, there is no simple answer to that question.
This is because it can rely on a number of different factors – including the drug or substance involved, the heaviness of use and the individual’s health and history with drugs.
The worst part of a comedown will typically last for at least several hours, but in some cases, a comedown can last for days or more. In other cases, it’s not uncommon for the ‘worst’ symptoms to subside, but lingering effects persist for longer.
The physical and psychological symptoms of a comedown can vary quite widely, and the severity can also vary depending on the substance and how much has been used in a single or extended session.
Some common comedown side effects, however, could include:
- Mood swings
- Lack of appetite
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Lack of motivation
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Lethargy and tiredness
- Intense cravings
- Feeling achy or in pain
- Reduced ability to think straight or concentrate
There may also be other symptoms depending on the substance.
Coming down from stimulants could involve dehydration and soreness, for example, especially if you have been dancing or over-exerting yourself.
Opioid comedown can be particularly severe and often includes symptoms such as intense paranoia, tremors, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you’re feeling these though, it is likely withdrawal so you should seek help if you’re using these kinds of drugs.
How to Help a Comedown
A comedown is always unpleasant, but there are some things that you can do if you’re wondering how to beat a comedown. This includes some basic lifestyle tips and while they may seem obvious, implementing them is going to be helpful so try your best to do so.
Looking after yourself physically can help. Try to rest, eat well-balanced nutritious food and drink plenty of water for rehydration.
Light exercise like walking can help to release ‘happy chemicals’ to rebalance your system in a gentle and healthy way.
You definitely should not take more drugs to try and achieve this. The ‘hair of the dog’ approach might make you feel better temporarily, but in the long run, it will only make the comedown worse.
This cycle can be dangerous, it can also lead to a downward spiral of substance abuse and potential addiction. Speaking to someone about how you are feeling can help with some of the psychological aspects of a comedown.
If there’s no one you trust or feel you can open up to, there are numerous helplines, charities and support groups who you can speak to.
Do You Need Professional Help?
What goes up has to come down, and highs from substance misuse are often accompanied by an unpleasant period known as comedown. If you’re experiencing this often, you should think about seeking professional help.
We can help you overcome an addiction if you think you have one, so get in touch if you need any help today with Addiction Advocates on 0800 012 6088 today.
Free Help for Addiction
Learning how to get over a comedown can help to mitigate some of the symptoms when you are actually experiencing them, but the best way to deal with comedowns is to avoid them entirely.
Comedowns are certainly not the only problem or risk that comes from drug use and substance abuse. Depending on the substance involved, addiction can be a real risk, leading to a vicious cycle of worsening consequences. If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, it can be incredibly difficult to break free without the right help and treatment.
There are a number of routes you can take, including mutual support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and local NHS-supported drug and alcohol services. The most effective way to treat a serious substance misuse issue like addiction is a comprehensive addiction treatment programme in residential rehab.
-  Opioids - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/
-  studies - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2992898/
-  Alcoholics Anonymous - https://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/aa-meetings/find-a-meeting
-  Narcotics Anonymous - https://meetings.ukna.org/
-  NHS-supported drug and alcohol services - https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/addiction-support/