Signs & Symptoms of Addiction – Comedown
What Is a Comedown?
Anyone who takes drugs faces the possibility of going through a comedown once those drugs have worn off. For an addict, however, comedown can be a regular occurrence, taking a serious toll on the user’s state of mind.
Comedown is called so because it is the counterpart of the “high” which drugs can produce (and, of course, “what goes up must come down”); these highs and lows of mood are more properly referred to as euphoria and dysphoria.
Comedown (aka crashing) is the experience of a deterioration in mood and energy levels which can take place when a drug “wears off” – i.e., when it clears from the user’s system. It may be considered analogous to a hangover after drinking alcohol, though usually without the feeling of nausea and pain which hangovers tend to produce. Comedown is typically associated with stimulants such as cocaine and ecstasy, though it can also occur following the consumption of opioids and sedatives. Users of hallucinogens such as LSD often also experience comedowns, though these are typically far more related to mood than energy.
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What Causes Comedown?
As the effects of a psychoactive drug wear off, it is logical that any elevated mood and invigoration caused by the drug will decline eventually. However, comedown is not simply a return to the user’s normal state, but involves mood and energy levels sinking to below that normal state, and can produce unpleasant and problematic psychological symptoms which can last for several hours or even days after even only one instance of substance abuse.
As well as being produced by the disappearance of the psychoactive chemicals from the user’s system, comedown can be exacerbated by fatigue (especially if the substance abuse has been accompanied by prolonged physical exertion such as dancing or sex, and if the user has gone without sleep for a protracted period) and by the psychological consequences of returning to normal life after a period of intense excitement and pleasure (which can be particularly damaging for anyone turning to drugs as a means of escapism). Those suffering from disorders such as depression or anxiety may find their condition significantly worsened by comedown.
Comedown as an Addiction Symptom
Comedown can affect anyone taking drugs, not simply addicts. Indeed, some addicts often consume drugs too frequently to endure comedowns, whereas occasional recreational users are likely to experience them following each instance of consumption. However, for those who are physically addicted to a substance of abuse (i.e. have developed dependency) comedown can be an early symptom of withdrawal. The dysphoria itself can be made worse by cravings and the fear of withdrawal symptoms if more drugs cannot be obtained.
What Are the Symptoms of Comedown?
Comedown can manifest very quickly after a drug’s effects wear off, but can also kick in after a surprisingly long period, perhaps a couple of days after the drug was taken. Typically, comedown causes low moods (and mood swings), fatigue, irritability, frustration, anger, social withdrawal, anhedonia, insomnia, and loss of appetite. The dysphoria can be so profound that self-harm or even suicidal ideation may take place.
How Is Comedown Diagnosed?
Comedown is a collection of symptoms and a phase of withdrawal rather than a distinct condition, and diagnosis would typically depend upon a doctor’s knowledge that the patient had consumed drugs prior to the manifestation of comedown. The symptoms of comedown can all occur as a result of other conditions.
How Is Comedown Treated?
Outside urgent cases in which patients are harming themselves and/or others or threatening to do so, in which case sedation and/or therapy may be required, comedown would typically not require treatment beyond rest and relaxation. Comedown as a withdrawal symptom would be treated by detoxification (possibly medically assisted) and as part of a broader addiction treatment program.
Ready to Get Help for Your Addiction?
If you’re suffering from an addiction, you may be all too familiar with comedown and it may herald the daunting onset of withdrawal. However, no addiction treatment can be successful until the addict truly wants to be treated. If you are able to admit to your condition, and are determined to overcome your addiction, that treatment is waiting for you.
Take control of your life – get started on the road to recovery
Comedowns can be profoundly unpleasant,but addiction can be catastrophic, and even fatal. Do not allow your addiction to cause any more harm: reach out for help to your GP and/or an addiction specialist today and take your first step back to happiness and health.
Get help today
Across the UK there are facilities and organisations helping addicts into and through recovery. You too can benefit from that help if you are ready to ask for it: call your GP and/or an addiction specialist today to discuss the treatment options which may be appropriate and open to you.
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