Adderall Withdrawal | Symptoms, Headache, Timeline
Adderall is a brand-name medication that is prescribed to treat Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. The potent psychostimulant is a combination of two stimulant drugs, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and can appear on the market as either Adderall or Adderall XR. The “smart drug” aims to increase the attention spans in people with ADHD and help them control their daily activities. Adderall affects the central nervous system, which boosts the brain’s dopamine levels and enhances the moods of the users.
People with ADHD take Adderall at prescribed therapeutic levels to boost their concentration for longer periods. But recreational users, among them high-school and college students, who don’t have either ADHD or narcolepsy also seek the drug to help them maintain focus for a longer time. An increase in energy and high alertness also appeal to recreational users. For these reasons, Adderall has become known as the “study drug” among people who use it to boost their academic performance and endure long nights of writing term papers or studying for exams.
Adderall is habit-forming and highly addictive. Using it frequently or in high amounts can lead to a high tolerance for the drug. Chronic Adderall use is dangerous to users’ health and those who misuse and abuse it frequently are taking risks that can adversely affect their health.
What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms of Adderall?
Adderall users who feel physical and psychological changes when they abruptly stop or reduce their use of the medication are experiencing a period known as the “Adderall crash,” which is a comedown or withdrawal from amphetamine use. These withdrawal symptoms can happen when excessive Adderall use is discontinued and the effects begin to wear off. Some of those symptoms that happen during withdrawal are:
- Adderall cravings
- Increased appetite or lack of appetite
- Anhedonia (inability to enjoy pleasurable activities)
- Feeling awake despite being mentally exhausted
- Muscle aches
- Sleep disturbances, oversleeping
- Rebound hunger
- Temporary worsening of ADHD symptoms
- Distorted thinking
- Slowed reactions
- Suicidal thoughts or ideations
- Vivid dreams
How long the “Adderall crash” lasts depends on how long it takes the drugs to wear off in the system.
One common effect of Adderall crash is headaches. They rarely are serious, but there are signs when a headache needs medical attention, writes BrainProTips.com.
If you are experiencing a thunderclap headache, which is when it comes suddenly and gets worse within seconds or minutes, see a doctor as soon as possible. Watch out for headaches that:
- Occur with physical changes, such as a stiff neck or a seizure
- Occur with psychological changes, such as personality changes, confusion, or a loss of consciousness
- Come on right after strenuous exercise or injury
- Accompanies weakness, impaired vision, or numbness
These are all signs that one should get medical help right away.
There are various reasons why Adderall, an amphetamine, causes headaches. Regular headaches that are not indications of a more serious condition may be treated with over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, or the pain reliever acetaminophen. It is best, however, to seek the advice of your physician for the best course of treatment for your situation.
What Are The Stages of The Adderall Withdrawal Timeline?
Adderall withdrawal will not be the same for everyone. The severity of the symptoms as well as how long they last depend largely on the person. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can last a few days to a few weeks. Other factors that contribute to timeline variations for this drug include:
- Age, health, medical history, environment
- Adderall history
- How long Adderall has been used (shorter period of use may mean a shorter withdrawal)
- How much Adderall is used
- The manner in which Adderall has been used (such as whether it was snorted or taken orally)
- If Adderall was used with other drugs, such as alcohol or other drugs
- Co-occurring disorders (when substance use disorder and mental health disorder are present at the same time)
Below is a general timeline of Adderall withdrawal. Chronic users will see symptoms start anywhere from 24 hours to 72 hours after the last pill is taken.
Days 1-3: Recovering Adderall users may feel exhausted and irritable while experiencing drug cravings and depression. Despite the fatigue, sleep disorders are common at this stage.
Days 4-7: Sleep disturbances may continue as well as exhaustion. Cravings for Adderall may intensify. Recovering users may have disturbing dreams and experience irritability. They also may be unable to feel pleasure, a condition known as anhedonia.
7+ days to a month: Detachment, Adderall cravings, and sleep disorders may continue. Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) can linger for three to six months. Users may have rebound hunger or an increased appetite. This is a period when persistent withdrawal symptoms randomly appear from here for several more weeks or months, and in severe cases, years.
PAWS symptoms include emotional instability or mood swings, short-term memory loss, depression, insomnia, dizziness, cravings for cocaine or other drugs and alcohol. Professional addiction treatment programs and other supports, such as a 12-step program, can help recovering users manage this period
Why Should I Detox?
Quitting Adderall abruptly after frequent or longtime use is a dangerous practice that is strongly discouraged. The highly addictive drug makes it difficult for some users to stop, but once they do, the discomfort they feel may prompt them to pick up the drug again. Doing so can end in a dangerous relapse, which can permanently damage the body or cause death. Receiving treatment at a drug rehabilitation center or detox center can help recovering Adderall users stay on the path to getting off the drug and keep them safe while doing it.
A 24-hour detox conducted by medical professionals ensures you or your loved ones are monitored in a controlled setting as uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are managed. Medical professionals can determine if a taper process would be appropriate and supervise the process so that clients safely withdraw from Adderall to prevent a relapse. Clients also could be given medications to help ease high blood pressure, nausea, chills, cravings, depression, and other symptoms.
What Is The Next Treatment Step?
Recovering users who have completed Adderall detox are encouraged to enter an inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment program where they can focus on their addiction. Outpatient treatment offers the most flexibility while inpatient and residential likely require a 30-day or longer stay at the treatment facility.
Research shows that at least three months or more are needed to treat drug addiction. A longer stay gives residential clients a chance to develop the life skills and strategies they need to live drug-free. They can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and other therapies and approaches that support their path to recovery.