Understanding the risks of the comedown
After taking drugs, you may experience a comedown. We take a look at what this means and how you can stay safer.
A comedown generally refers to when the effects of a drug are wearing off after a prolonged period of intoxication. Comedowns will be different for different people – for some, it might just feel like a bad alcohol hangover, but for others it could be a wild emotional rollercoaster that can last up to a week.
The comedown from different types of drugs can also be very different. Other factors that can impact the comedown include:
- Contaminated or impure drugs.
- Excessive dosing or mixing drugs.
- Not sleeping enough.
- Not hydrating or eating before and after a big night out.
While not taking drugs is always the safest drug use, if you’re planning a big night out there are a couple of things you can do to reduce harm.
Different people experience drugs differently – so it’s important that you know yourself and your limits. Just because your friend could take a certain drug, or a certain amount, doesn’t mean you can do the same thing. So, make sure you’re prepared - know what you’re taking and do your research. This can help you prepare for what comedown effects to expect.
Low doses are safer. It lowers the risks of negative side effects, including overdose and the risk of a bad comedown. Start slow, go slow, take regular breaks, and avoid re-dosing.
As always, it’s best to avoid mixing drugs, and this includes taking another type of drug (like opiates or benzos) to manage the comedown. Any kind of drug use (including alcohol) can put extra strain on your system and re-dosing only delays and intensifies the eventual comedown.
Getting enough sleep can also play a crucial part in how you feel both physically and mentally. This includes getting a good night’s sleep the night before, and the night after.
Other ways you can take care of your health and stay safer include:
- Drinking water regularly.
- Eating a good nutritious meal before and after a big night out.
- Taking regular breaks when dancing to stay cool.
- Make sure you have a plan in case of emergency – tell someone what you’ve taken and check in on your mates. That way you can get the right help if something goes wrong.
If you feel ill during a comedown, you may be having medical complications in reaction to what you’ve taken. If this persists, it is important to get some medical advice. Make sure you always tell them what you’ve taken, how much, and when. You won’t get in trouble and getting help early can reduce the risk of suffering greater complications later on.
Always call 111 in an emergency - this includes if someone is unconscious, stops breathing, has a seizure, is extremely agitated for longer than 15 minutes, or has chest pain or breathing difficulties for longer than 5 minutes. Tell emergency responders what someone has taken – you won’t get in trouble, and it could save a life.
It’s important to give yourself enough time to recover, so take a break between sessions. For example, did you know the effects of MDMA are reduced with frequent use. The NZ Drug Foundation advises waiting two or three months before using MDMA again to give your brain and body time to recover.
If you’re concerned about your own drinking or drug taking, you can reach out to the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, or text 8681. You'll be able to speak with a trained counsellor who can provide you with helpful information, insight and support. They’re available 24/7, all calls are free and confidential. You can also chat with the team online through the website.