Adderall is a popular prescription stimulant medication that is commonly used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy, a daytime sleeping disorder. Adderall works by increasing the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which helps to improve focus, attention, and alertness.
When a person takes Adderall regularly, their brain becomes accustomed to the increased levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, and the brain and body require increased levels of these neurotransmitters to function normally. If they suddenly stop taking the medication, their brain may struggle to produce these neurotransmitters on its own, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms.
If you are prescribed Adderall, you should only take it as directed, and never stop taking it unless your doctor asks you to do so. In the event that your doctor wants you to stop taking Adderall, he or she may slowly reduce your dose over the course of weeks or months to slowly taper your body off the medication. Tapering can reduce the likelihood of withdrawal symptoms.
However, many people abuse Adderall recreationally and get addicted to it. The first step toward recovery involves detox, during which the body adjusts to no longer having Adderall in the system. Unfortunately, Adderall withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable and challenging. If you or a loved one are struggling with Adderall addiction, please contact our staff at Moving Mountains Recovery today to learn about your detox and treatment options.
Common Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal
The severity and duration of Adderall withdrawal can vary depending on several factors, including how long you have been taking the medication, how much you have been taking, whether you were taking immediate-release Adderall or extended-release Adderall (Adderall XR), and your individual physiology.
Common Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased appetite
- Headaches or migraines
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
- Elevated heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
- Hallucinations or delusions
Adderall withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and potentially dangerous, especially if you have been taking high doses of the medication for an extended period of time. As a result, it’s always recommended that you detox from Adderall gradually under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Seeking help from a drug and alcohol detox center will minimize the risk of withdrawal symptoms and ensure a safe and successful transition off the medication.
How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Usually Last?
The Adderall withdrawal timeline can vary depending on several factors, including your overall health and individual physiology, how long you have been taking the medication, and how much you have been taking. Taking Adderall with alcohol or other medications may also influence the duration and severity of your symptoms.
Most people begin having symptoms 1-3 days after their last dose. Symptoms tend to be most intense 3-5 days after the last dose and start to subside after a week or two.
Breaking Down the Adderall Withdrawal Timeline
The Adderall withdrawal timeline can be broken down into four stages:
1. Initial Crash
As the effects of Adderall begin to wear off, you may “crash.” A “crash” is a common term used when discussing stimulant abuse. It is characterized by increased hunger and fatigue after the effects of a stimulant drug wear off. You may feel tired, fatigued, depressed, irritable, and hungry. You may also have anxiety as you are anticipating worsening withdrawal symptoms to come.
2. Acute Adderall Withdrawal
When people think of withdrawal, they often think of acute withdrawal. Acute Adderall withdrawal may follow the timeline below.
- 1-3 days after the last dose – Initial withdrawal symptoms including fatigue, insomnia, and depression will begin. Symptoms will gradually worsen.
- 3-5 days after the last dose – Symptoms typically peak during this time. You may feel very tired, depressed, irritable, restless, and anxious. Difficulty concentrating, vivid dreams, and nightmares are also common. Cravings may be extreme.
- 5-7 days after the last dose – After about 5-7 days, symptoms should start to subside. However, it is normal to continue experiencing mood swings, depression, low motivation, and poor focus.
3. Subacute Withdrawal
In the next 2-3 weeks following the acute withdrawal stage, you may continue to experience some symptoms, but they should gradually start to subside. However, some symptoms, such as depression and fatigue, may persist for several weeks or even months. Medications, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes can help you manage these symptoms.
4. Protracted or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
In some cases, particularly if Adderall was used for long periods of time, people experience protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These symptoms include irritability, depression, cravings, and sleep disturbances. Unfortunately, PAWS can last for several months or even years but can be managed effectively with the right treatment program.
Coping With Adderall Withdrawal
If panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions, or suicidal thoughts appear, your health could be seriously at risk. As a result, the safest way to detox from Adderall is to do so under medical supervision. The exact treatments used depend on the severity of your symptoms and your situation, but will typically involve:
- Tapering off Adderall – One of the most effective ways to manage Adderall withdrawal is to gradually reduce the dose of the medication over time. This method, known as tapering, can help to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms and make the process more manageable.
- Medications – Certain medications, such as antidepressants or sleep aids, may be prescribed to help manage specific symptoms of withdrawal, such as depression or insomnia. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also be prescribed for headaches or general pains and discomfort. All of these medications will be dispensed by a medical provider during detox.
- Group and individual therapy – Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or mindfulness meditation may be helpful in managing the emotional and psychological symptoms of withdrawal.
- Lifestyle changes – Making changes to your diet, exercise routine, and sleep habits may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of withdrawal. For example, regular exercise and a balanced diet can help to improve energy levels and mood, while good sleep hygiene can improve sleep quality.
- Support groups – Joining a peer support group or attending recovery-based meetings can provide emotional support and help you stay motivated during the withdrawal process.
Detox is only the first step toward recovery. Once you’re done detoxing, you can stay sober by participating in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program that prepares you with the tools and resources needed for ongoing sobriety.
Get Help for Adderall Abuse and Addiction Today
Adderall addiction does not have to dictate the rest of your life. There is compassionate, effective treatment available. Contact Moving Mountains Recovery today to learn about your treatment options and get connected to the right prescription drug rehab program for you.
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Label for Adderall, Retrieved April 2023 from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/011522s043lbl.pdf
- Springer Link Publications: Amphetamine Withdrawal, Retrieved April 2023 from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-58260-3_39