Mephedrone Detox and Withdrawal: Symptoms and Timelines

Mephedrone detox is not the easiest to deal with and is a challenge for rehab facilities, because it is a relatively new substance. Designer drugs like this one are formulated in illegal labs and their potency and ingredients tend to vary a great deal. This means it is impossible to tell what their effects might be or what the drugs actually contain.

For you to be free of mephedrone, you’ll have to get through the process of detoxification, which inevitably comes with withdrawal. The degree of withdrawal symptoms you’ll experience will depend largely on how much of the drug you have been using and the presence of any other complications, such as polydrug usage.

The drug belongs to a group of drugs known as Cathinones, so is expected to produce results known to be generated by that family of substances. It is also a chemical cousin of amphetamines, to which its effects have been compared, alongside MDMA and cocaine.

While there is not much scientific evidence pointing to the specific dangers of mephedrone, anecdotal evidence does exist. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that have been identified include cold sweats, nausea, agitation and depression. It has also been found that long-term use of the drug can have serious consequences for the heart.

Mephedrone Withdrawal – What is it?

Withdrawal from mephedrone is the process whereby your body returns to a state of homeostasis after having been ‘assaulted’ with a toxic substance repeatedly. In other words, withdrawal is a consequence of your body readjusting to the state it was at before you started using the drug. It is a difficult process and can be incredibly uncomfortable.

Scientists don’t know much about the dangers of suddenly withdrawing from the substance, but the severity of the withdrawal process is expected to be dependent on the frequency and manner of drug usage (as is the case with other drugs). It is best to undergo detox in a professional setting, where you can receive much-needed medical attention.

If you’ve been using the drug for a long time, it will be a real challenge to quit, because your system has become used to it. Some of the symptoms to expect during withdrawal may include difficulty concentrating, irritability, depression, anxiety, fatigue, stuffy nose, increased appetite and intense cravings.

While mephedrone is often compared to MDMA, there are a few key differences which may indicate that the drug has a higher potential for developing dependence than ecstasy. The only MDMA effects not replicated by mephedrone are hyperthermia and monoamine neurotoxicity in the brain.

Types of mephedrone withdrawal

Withdrawal may be classified as protracted, spontaneous and medically supervised withdrawal. Protracted withdrawal occurs when symptoms persist past the time typically expected for acute withdrawal. This type of withdrawal may last several months.

Spontaneous withdrawal is what is typically meant when we say ‘withdrawal’ and it occurs when you either reduce your drug usage significantly or stop taking the substance entirely.

Medically supervised withdrawal takes place in a detox centre or rehab facility, where symptoms are monitored and managed. Tapering is typically used, which means dosages will be lowered gradually over time in order to minimise cravings and other symptoms.

Mephedrone withdrawal symptoms: What to expect

It’s a challenge to compile an exhaustive list of withdrawal symptoms, because there is hardly any conclusive information about what to expect from mephedrone detox. From anecdotal evidence, we have learnt that the symptoms to expect include anxiety, paranoia, agitation, lethargy, nightmares, tremors and depression.

As far as physical effects go, the organ of the body most at risk is the heart, with the possibility of serious damage if you’ve been using the drug for a long time. Mephedrone is capable of overstimulating the nervous and circulatory systems, possibly leading to seizures. It may also trigger paranoia and anxiety, as well as hallucinations and severe panic attacks (as indicated in anecdotal reports). Also reported are changes in body temperature, vertigo, insomnia and memory loss.

Some of the effects noted from abuse of this drug include cold or blue fingers, nausea, heart palpitations, headaches and excessive sweating or hyperhidrosis. Mephedrone use can be lethal, as a number of deaths have been linked to it. More people take the drug by means of injection and that can contribute to a host of problems like gangrene, a blood clot, an abscess, damage to veins and risk of infection, such as HIV or Hepatitis C.

Physical symptoms of mephedrone withdrawal

Withdrawal is one of the most difficult phases on the road to recovery, but it’s one you must pass through in order to reach your goals. While there’s not enough information on withdrawal from this substance, some of the physical symptoms can include loss of appetite, weight reduction, severe cravings, tremors and insomnia.

Since mephedrone is similar to MDMA (in terms of physical symptoms during withdrawal), it is possible to experience other symptoms such as fatigue and muscle stiffness, among others.

Psychological symptoms of mephedrone withdrawal

There is no telling exactly how withdrawing from mephedrone will affect you psychologically, since it is nearly impossible to know what combinations of substances you’ve been taking. However, some of the psychological symptoms to expect may include anxiety, agitation, irritability and depression.

You may also find that you’re unable to completely control your behavioural actions and emotional state. It’s also possible to experience feelings of panic or thoughts of suicide and psychosis, depending on the nature of your substance abuse. Typically, the more of the drug you have used, the more severe your withdrawal symptoms will be.

Causes of mephedrone withdrawal symptoms

The reason you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop substance abuse is that your body is not able to quickly adapt without the repeated administration of mephedrone. When you use the drug, you get a feeling of overall stimulation and euphoria, as well as improved mood and cognitive function.

The effects of the drug are produced as a result of how it affects the central nervous system, which is where movement and reward are controlled. How intense your symptoms will be correlates with how long you abuse the substance. You can think of your discontinued drug use as being akin to taking the weight off a spring. The rebound is your brain producing a surge of withdrawal symptoms, which in turn causes them to manifest.

Mephedrone withdrawal timeline

While there is no established timeline for withdrawing from mephedrone, it is thought to closely resemble the withdrawal timeline of other stimulant medications. Though the precise timeline will depend on how much of the drug you’ve been using and how long you’ve been using it for, you can expect withdrawal to follow this general timeline if you have been a heavy user:

  • 0 to 24 hours after your last dose, you may begin to experience cravings, fatigue, jitteriness and mood swings. You may also become extremely depressed and moody – or even suicidal – as your norepinephrine and dopamine levels have been seriously depleted.
  • 24 to 72 hours after the last dose, your symptoms should peak and then begin to subside slowly.
  • 3 to 7 days after your last dose, your symptoms should have been mostly resolved, but you might still have to deal with minor cravings and mood-swing related issues.

You must note that this is only a general timeline and may not apply strictly to you. The precise timeline you experience will depend on how the drug interacts with your bodily functions and your brain, as well as its half-life. The half-life of a drug refers to the amount of time it takes to be absorbed and remain active in your body.

Mephedrone detoxification

Detoxification is the process during which your body will be purged of all traces of the drug. It is a phase of treatment that you must pass through to rid yourself of substance dependence. It is best done in a detox centre, where you can get all the professional help you need to ensure you get through the process with less discomfort and without a chance of relapsing.

You may be given medications to help make withdrawal symptoms more bearable, depending on what they are and how intense they turn out to be. While it might be tempting to try to detox at home, this isn’t recommended, as it can result in a bad relapse. In turn, this can lead to an overdose, especially if you have become highly dependent on the drug.

Treatment facilities are always the best option, because you’ll get the medical supervision you need. However, if you must detox at home, be sure to enlist the help of an expert. Many drug centres can make a professional available to provide a completely anonymous home service..

Mephedrone abuse: Detox process

We have already established that mephedrone detox presents unique problems for users, as the effects are not as well-known as those of other drugs. However, physicians take a general approach to managing the detox process, as they tap into anecdotal evidence and what is known about MDMA, which produces effects close to what mephedrone produces.

By undertaking the detox process, you’ll be letting your body go through withdrawal. The medical personnel overseeing your case may decide it’s best to use the tapering method to get you off the drug. In that case, you will be administered progressively smaller doses of the substance in order to gradually wean you off. Tapering makes it easier to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Mephedrone detoxification timeline

When you first enrol on a detoxification programme, the primary concern is taking care of any urgent medical issues. Once you have been medically stabilised, the centre will see to it that a treatment plan is developed for you.

During the evaluation phase, you’ll get a comprehensive assessment of your medical, psychological and social situation. You’ll also be tested for the presence of toxic substances and any existing mental conditions.

The next phase is stabilisation, where your symptoms are managed through medications and counselling. Next is facilitating ongoing treatment, which involves ensuring you understand the importance of detox in the recovery journey and why you should fully immerse yourself in the treatment programme.

The actual detox phase (when you deal with acute withdrawal symptoms) can be expected to last between 72 hours and one week, depending on factors such as how heavy your doses have been and how long you’ve been using the drug. The protracted phase of withdrawal may last several weeks.

Withdrawal from mephedrone: Treatment methods and options

There are a number of treatment options and methods available, all based on a general understanding of how addiction works. Typically, it won’t be a single treatment option that will be used, but a combination of methods specifically tailored to your needs. For instance, medical management of withdrawal may be followed by various forms of psychotherapy.

One of the most popular options is the inpatient model, which involves being treated in a residential facility under the supervision of medical personnel. To help you get through the withdrawal phase more comfortably, you may have medication-assisted therapies incorporated into your treatment programme.

If you don’t need a heavily intensive treatment programme, an outpatient option should work for you. This allows you to receive treatment at a facility, returning home at the end of the session. Another option is to get treatment through a physician’s office, the lowest level of intervention. The doctor will monitor your condition during detox and prescribe medications to manage symptoms.

If your case is particularly severe, hospital care may be recommended for treatment, especially if there is a co-occurring physical or mental condition.

Home detox for mephedrone abusers: How safe is it?

The road to recovery from substance abuse is a long and painful one. Detox is a crucial first step and the manner in which it is undertaken can determine how fast you recover and perhaps even how difficult the journey might be. It’s not common for detoxing at home to be fatal, but it’s also possible for you to experience life-threatening detox symptoms if you don’t have medical supervision.

It is technically possible to go ‘cold turkey’ and detox at home, but it is likely to be painful and, under certain circumstances, very dangerous. One of the biggest risks is that of overdosing when the intense cravings begin and your tolerance level has lowered.

It’s always best to detox in a designated detox centre, especially if you’ve been on drugs for a long time, have been engaged in polydrug use, or if you have any co-occurring physical or mental disorders. At the very least, speak to a physician about the feasibility of detoxing at home and how suitable it is for you

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