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Adderall Withdrawal

In a society dominated by technology, humans are always looking to find an edge and get things done quickly and efficiently. It could mean a college student who’s looking to excel on a final exam, or a business professional looking to get an edge on a big project that is coming up. 

Achieving at the highest level and producing results matter in a result-oriented society like the United States. For the reasons listed above, many people seek chemical advantages to overcome their shortfalls.

Some people will turn to Adderall to boost their focus and energy levels, which is a problem that can start innocently but become addictive and dangerous. Adderall is a prescription stimulant drug used primarily to treat those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Unfortunately, because of its ability to increase energy, focus, and feelings of euphoria, it is often abused, which means someone will take more than the prescribed amount to increase the euphoria. Those who use Adderall as prescribed by their doctor are much less likely to become addicted to the drug, but each person varies, and this can still occur in anyone.

Signs of Adderall dependence or addiction may include:

  • Consuming more Adderall than the doctor prescribes to achieve the desired effect
  • Inability to function day to day without consuming the drug
  • Purchasing the drug off the street without a prescription
  • Spending excessive amounts of money to support a substance habit
  • Continuing to use Adderall despite a decline in work or school performance

What Are Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms?

a recovering addict
a man

When Adderall is used in higher amounts than what is prescribed, the body will eventually become dependent, which can lead to the onset of addiction. When this occurs, the body will require more of the drug to reach the desired effect or the high, and this is known as tolerance. Tolerance means the person must take more Adderall to achieve the same impact they once did such as higher energy or more precise focus.

Once dependence has been achieved, stopping the use of Adderall can produce uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, which is commonly described as the “Adderall crash.” The symptoms can be so severe that they will push a person right back into using Adderall. For this reason, professional treatment is imperative to overcome Adderall addiction.

The most common Adderall withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramping
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Increased anxiety
  • Increased appetite
  • Vivid and intense dreams
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Memory issues
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Lack of motivation
  • Crying without reason

While withdrawal symptoms from stimulant drugs, in general, are not deadly, suicidal ideation can lead to harmful behaviors. For this reason, an individual must be in the presence of professional help to ensure their safety.

What Are the Stages in the Adderall Withdrawal Timeline?

The ability to get through Adderall withdrawal is possible with the right help, but you must be patient as it will take some time. Similar to any drug, the timeline is going to vary from one person to another, and it will be determined by various factors. Those abusing large amounts of Adderall for extended periods will experience the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Other factors to take into consideration include:

  • How long one has been taking the drug
  • The dosage of the drug
  • The frequency of use
  • Health of the individual
  • Genetics
  • History of addiction
  • Social support
  • Dietary habits
  • Polysubstance abuse
  • Manner in which Adderall was used (smoking, injecting, snorting)

A general timeline of Adderall withdrawal as follows:

  • Days 1-2: Withdrawal symptoms can occur in as little as six hours after the last dose, with common symptoms such as depression, lack of energy, and fatigue.
  • Days 3-5: Symptoms will peak during this time and will begin to intensify. The signs will range from moderate to severe depending on the factors we discussed above. Those who abused ample amounts of Adderall are likely to experience much more intense withdrawal symptoms than mild users. Depression, fatigue, headaches, increased appetite, inability to concentrate, nightmares, and irritability are among the most common symptoms.
  • Days 5-7: Once you’ve reached day five, symptoms should begin to wind down. Some will be gone entirely, but psychological withdrawal symptoms may continue to linger, such as depression or moodiness. The best course of action is to continue seeking treatment for the duration of withdrawal symptoms, as this will increase the likelihood of long-term abstinence.
  • Week 2 and beyond: Once you make it through the first week, physical symptoms will subside. There can be lingering psychological symptoms, such as sadness or cravings for several more weeks. Clinicians can provide medications that help to alleviate some of these uncomfortable side effects.

Why Should I Detox?

Stopping the use of Adderall can be challenging for someone who has become addicted. As such, medical detoxification is necessary, and it is when someone will be surrounded by substance abuse professionals who will provide comprehensive care in a safe environment. 

The body must rid itself of all foreign toxins within its system, and a supportive detox environment is an ideal place to do so. It allows 24 hours of around-the-clock care for anywhere from three to seven days while you go through the worst of the withdrawals. Support and medication are crucial during this period.

While quitting Adderall cold turkey is not as dangerous as benzodiazepines or alcohol, depression can be overwhelming when stopping abruptly — stopping “cold turkey,” as this action is called, tends to cause relapse due to the intensifying of withdrawal symptoms. A slow tapering off Adderall is necessary, according to substance abuse professionals, so that cognitive and psychological effects of withdrawal are limited.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

getting treatment

Continuing treatment after detox is imperative to achieving long-term sobriety. Many people can get through the withdrawal symptoms in around a week, but then addiction treatment continues and will tend to any underlying emotional issues that may be happening. Additionally, trained professionals will be present to teach individuals the tools that will help in a lasting recovery.

Several steps can be taken, and during a thorough assessment in detox, the professionals will determine that next step. Depending on the severity of the addiction, it could mean placement in a residential treatment center. Residential treatment requires the person to live on-site for an undetermined amount of time, which could last up to 90 days. If the team decides outpatient care is a better fit, the same therapy options will still be available, except the client will be able to return home upon completion.

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Sources

Lago, J. A., & Kosten, T. R. (1994, November). Stimulant withdrawal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7841859

CCRN, R. N. (n.d.). Adderall crash: Timeline, tips, and remedies. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321492.php

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/addiction/what-is-addiction

Hom, E. J. (2018, October 18). Adderall: Uses, Side Effects and Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/41013-adderall.html

10 Things That Happen in the Brain and Body on Adderall. (n.d.). The Science Explorer. from http://thescienceexplorer.com/brain-and-body/10-things-happen-brain-and-body-adderall

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