How to cope with a comedown

After taking drugs, it’s common for you to experience what’s known as a ‘comedown’, as the effects of the drug wear off.

Call Us
Tap on a number to call

Save 10% on addiction treatment

Priory is currently offering 10% off private self-pay addiction inpatient treatment, for admissions until 31st August inclusive. Get a free initial assessment with a therapist, to help you take the first step towards recovery. T&Cs apply.

Find out more
Call Us
Tap on a number to call

Here, we’ll explore what a comedown is, what it feels like and what can help you get through a comedown. We’ll also point you in the direction of professional drug addiction treatment and support, if you think your drug use is getting out of hand.

What is a comedown?

When you take drugs, this can cause changes in your brain chemistry, affecting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that carry messages from one area of the brain to another. A comedown is the process you go through when the effects of a drug wear off and your brain chemistry returns to normal levels.

The comedown process can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the drug you took and how much of it you consumed. The comedown can cause a whole range of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms.

What does a comedown feel like?

While drug comedowns do share some symptoms, it’s important to understand that everyone experiences them differently. For some people, their comedown may be gradual and the effects of the drug may wear off slowly. For others, their comedown can feel more like a sudden crash, with very noticeable symptoms. The way a comedown feels for different people depends on a range of factors:

  • The type of drug you’ve used – for example, a cocaine comedown may differ slightly from an MDMA comedown
  • The amount of the drug you’ve taken
  • How long you have been using drugs
  • Your level of dependence on the drug
  • Whether you have mixed drugs
  • Your physical and mental health

In addition, whether you experienced a ‘pleasant’ high or a ‘bad trip’ can also affect your comedown experience. If the high was pleasant, producing feelings of euphoria, confidence, pleasure and other effects, the resulting comedown can be a disappointing, unpleasant and even distressing experience. However, if you had a ‘bad trip’, experiencing ‘negative’ effects of the drug such as anxiety, paranoia or discomfort, the comedown can be a relief.

Comedowns vary from drug to drug and person to person, but some of the most common signs of a comedown include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Exhaustion
  • Aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Depressed mood
  • Paranoia
  • Panic attacks
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety (sometimes known as ‘hangxiety’)
  • Stress
  • Cravings for the drug

Lots of these symptoms are what you might experience if you’re going through a drug detox. This is where you're supported to come off drugs in a safe and controlled environment.

What helps a comedown?

There are a number of simple things you can do to help you get through a comedown.

Look after yourself physically

Comedowns can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, some of which can be quite unpleasant, so it’s important that you look after yourself physically to try and help yourself feel better. Try to eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and try to get enough sleep at night. You could also try some light exercise, as this is known to increase the ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain, boosting your mood and making you feel good. Even a short walk in the fresh air can help.

Resist the temptation to use more drugs

One of the signs of a drug comedown is craving the drug in question and wanting to get high again to get rid of the symptoms you’re experiencing. However, it’s really important that you resist this temptation as this can cause a spiral of drug abuse. Remind yourself that drug comedowns are temporary and it will soon pass, without the need to take more drugs.

Speak to someone about how you’re feeling

When you’re experiencing a comedown and craving the drug in question, it’s important to be able to address the feelings and thoughts that the cravings bring you, and don't try to muddle through your cravings on your own. Speaking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling can help to lessen the craving. It’s hard to be objective and logical when you’re feeling unwell and vulnerable, so speaking to someone else can really help.

Use techniques to cope with anxiety and stress

If you’re experiencing psychological symptoms during your comedown, there are a number of techniques you can use to help you tackle things like anxiety, panic and stress. For example, you could attend a yoga class, practise mindfulness, meditate or learn some breathing exercises for anxiety. In addition, creative activities have been found to reduce the production of stress hormones, which are likely to be heightened during a drug comedown. Therefore, activities such as baking, drawing, singing, painting, arts and crafts, gardening and anything that’s creative can help to reduce stress.

Distract yourself from your symptoms

Simply distracting yourself from your comedown symptoms can help you to get through them. Do something you enjoy to pass the time – this might be reading a book, listening to your favourite music, taking a hot bath or spending time with friends.

Get drug addiction help

If you’re finding drug comedowns difficult to cope with, or are experiencing them often, this could be a sign that you’ve developed a harmful drug addiction. If this is the case, you may need professional addiction treatment at a specialist drug rehab.

At Priory, our world class addiction treatment programmes provide you with all the resources you need to overcome your drug addiction and get your life back on track. Our free addiction assessment gives you the chance to speak to one of our addiction specialists about what you’re going through and formulate a treatment plan that’s suited to your needs.

We offer intensive inpatient addiction treatment, which consists of 24-hour support, detox, individual and group therapy, and free aftercare for 12 months. We also have flexible treatment options, including day care and outpatient addiction treatment, meaning that you can receive support for your drug dependency that fits in with your work and other responsibilities.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you to overcome your drug abuse and return to the fulfilling and healthy life you deserve.

Page clinically reviewed by Dee Johnson (Mbacp, MNCS), Addiction Therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford.

Contact us to make an enquiry or for more information

Call Us
Tap on a number to call