adderall withdrawal

Modified: 22nd Jul 2019

Adderall abuse is on the rise in the United States, particularly amongst young adults aged 18-25. In fact, rates of non-medical Adderall use have increased by 67 percent.

Adderall is habit-forming and can be difficult to give up. This is due to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms associated with it can be quite severe. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with Adderall addiction, there is hope. Read on to learn everything you need to know about Adderall withdrawal and detox.

What Causes Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall is a schedule II drug. This means it has a high potential for abuse and can lead to severe addiction. What makes Adderall so habit-forming, though?

When Adderall is ingested, it causes the release of several neurotransmitters (chemical messengers), including:

  • Dopamine
  • Epinephrine
  • Norepinephrine

These neurotransmitters cause a variety of effects:

  • A sense of pleasure and reward (dopamine)
  • Increased alertness, focus, and clearer thinking (norepinephrine and epinephrine)

Many people begin taking Adderall because of its ability to help them stay alert and think more clearly. When Adderall is consumed in large quantities, it also brings about intense feelings of pleasure and well-being.

Individuals who take Adderall regularly will find that they build up a tolerance. This requires them to take a larger dose to experience the same benefits they experienced before. 

Individuals who use Adderall long-term also experience withdrawal symptoms when they go too long without it. This is because their brains have become dependent on the drug.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall withdrawal comes with a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms. The following are some of the most common Adderall withdrawal symptoms:

  • Extreme feelings of fatigue
  • Poor sleep (often insomnia, later followed by hypersomnia)
  • Vivid dreams
  • Headaches
  • Increased appetite
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Memory difficulties
  • Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Irritability and/or mood swings

This collection of symptoms is often referred to as an “Adderall crash.” They may present themselves anywhere from a few hours to a few days after the last time the individual used Adderall.

The severity of the symptoms and the amount of time it takes for them to show up depends on the individual’s frequency of use and personal history.

Duration of Adderall Withdrawal

The duration of these withdrawal symptoms also varies from person to person. Like the withdrawal symptoms themselves, a lot of factors combined will indicate how long a user will suffer from them. 

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

In general, the typical Adderall withdrawal timeline looks something like this:

Days 1-3

During the first few days after giving up Adderall, some will experience many of the withdrawal symptoms mentioned above. Physical withdrawal symptoms often show up first. This includes symptoms such as fatigue, sluggishness, increased hunger, and sleep disturbances.

Days 4-7

At this point, physical withdrawal symptoms often start to subside. But, this is also the time when individuals start to experience psychological withdrawal. 

The psychological symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include anxiety, depression, and mood swings.

At this stage, it can be very helpful for a user to begin one-on-one or group therapy. This will help them work through their emotions and resist the urge to start using again.

Days 8-14

After the first week, cravings for Adderall tend to become more severe. This is the point when most people relapse.

Day 15 and Beyond

Many withdrawal symptoms tend to go away or become less severe after two weeks. But, some withdrawal symptoms may linger longer. This is post-acute withdrawal syndrome and can last for months or even up to a year.

It’s important for individuals to continue seeking counseling and treatment to manage their symptoms and work through co-occurring disorders like depression.

Detoxing from Adderall on Your Own

Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea to try and go through the Adderall detoxification process on your own.

The physical and psychological symptoms of Adderall withdrawal can be quite severe. In addition to being uncomfortable, it can also be dangerous for you to try and weather the storm alone.

It’s best to work with a qualified doctor while going through the Adderall detox process. 

When you work with a doctor, they will set up a weaning schedule. You’ll follow this schedule to slowly reduce your dosage and eventually give up the Adderall altogether. 

Your doctor will also provide you with recommendations for mental health professionals who can help you manage the psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

They may also be able to prescribe medications that will make the withdrawal process easier and more comfortable.

Medical Detox for Adderall

Some physicians have found that medications used to treat withdrawal from other stimulants, including cocaine, can be helpful to individuals who are struggling with Adderall addiction. 

How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect

There are many different forms of detox an individual may go through when they’re giving up Adderall. The most common forms include:

  • Ambulatory detox: This can take place in a treatment facility, in an individual’s home, or in a medical clinic
  • Non-medical residential detox: This involves staying in a treatment facility for 24-hour monitoring and direct care access without medication
  • Clinically-managed detox: This is like non-medical residential detox but is more social and takes place with less medical supervision
  • Medically-supervised detox: This is for patients with severe withdrawal symptoms who need heavy medical supervision and even medication administration

The type of detox program that works best for you will depend on a variety of factors. These factors include the duration of your Adderall use and the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

Medications Available for Adderall Detox

The following are some of the most effective medicines for people who need to detox from Adderall:

  • Anticonvulsant medications: These help to reduce cravings and symptoms of an Adderall crash
  • Baclofen: This is a muscle relaxant that can help people manage cravings and minimize Adderall crash symptoms
  • Provigil: This is a mild stimulant that can reduce Adderall crash symptoms

Some doctors prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. These are meant to help manage the psychological symptoms of withdrawal.

Doctors may prescribe analgesics, too. These are meant to help with headaches and other pains that come with withdrawal.

Begin Detoxing from Adderall Today

The process of giving up Adderall and overcoming withdrawal can be quite challenging. 

If you need help detoxing and managing Adderall withdrawal symptoms, we can help at Addiction Treatment Services.

Contact us today and let us help you find the right addiction treatment program for you. Or, set up a quick, confidential assessment to determine which program is appropriate for you.

Article Reviewed by Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPA

Dr. Keerthy Sunder, MD, DFAPADr. Keerthy Sunder, MD is an accomplished and internationally recognized expert in the field of addiction. He has earned diplomates from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, the American Board of Addiction Medicine, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.