Managing the comedown effects of drugs

People usually take drugs for the immediate effects they have on the brain and body. However, many drugs have after effects that linger long after the initial feelings have disappeared. You never know whether your drug comedown will be brief and painless or a more unpleasant experience. Read on for some tips managing the comedown effects of drugs and what to do if it doesn't go away.

This can help if:

  • You want to know what “coming down” means and involves
  • You want to learn some tips for managing the after effects of drugs
  • You know someone who seems to be struggling after having taken drugs
  • You're concerned with how you are feeling after having taken drugs 

pill cut in half on black bench

What is a comedown? 

A comedown refers to the period after taking a drug when your body is trying to process the substances that have been taken. The duration of a drug comedown, and how bad it is, depend on a number of things including the type of drug that was taken and the age, sex and tolerance of the person who took it. Each drug has its own unique after effects, and there are likely to be differences in what you feel based on whether you took a stimulant or depressant. To understand the difference between these two classes of drugs, check out our fact sheet “All about drugs.” Nevertheless, there are some similarities between many drugs, such as episodes of feeling flat or depressed and feeling physically exhausted. 

People experiencing comedowns might feel:

  • Shaky
  • Headaches
  • Nauseous
  • Low energy
  • Sleep a lot or be unable to sleep
  • Loss of appetite

What are some tips for managing a comedown?

Avoid a comedown. The only way to not have a comedown is to not do drugs.
Don’t turn to other drugs. Some people turn to depressants to ease the comedown but it’s important to remember that mixing drugs is never a good idea and is potentially very dangerous.

Distract yourself. Episodes of feeling flat or depressed are a common after effect of many drugs. For example, ecstasy is a drug that triggers a large release of serotonin (the chemical in the body thought to produce feelings of happiness) in the brain. After taking the drug, the brain is left with a depleted amount of serotonin, which could explain the negative effects it has on your mood. Try to distract yourself by hanging out with friends or watching funny movies and to kill time until your body is functioning normally again.

Don’t chase the feeling. It may be tempting to take more drugs to chase the positive feeling you had before, but it’s important to resist as it will only become harder to feel happy naturally after continued drug use.

Stay hydrated and eat well. A common side effect of many drugs is decreased appetite, so it’s important that you make up for any lost nutrients and minerals once the initial effects of the drug have worn off.

Take it easy. You may find that you’re feeling lazy and unwilling to move. If this is the case, avoid high-stress environments and give your body the rest it needs. If this feeling is hanging around for a long time, there might be something going on at a deeper level. 

What can I do now?

  • If you would like more info on the comedown effects of drugs, check out some drug facts.
  • Get personalised support options for drug use with the ReachOut NextStep tool.
  • If you’re drug comedown doesn't seem to be going away, get in touch with a health professional so you can work out what's going on. 

Last reviewed: 03 March, 2016
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