Help Quitting Adderall: Withdrawal Symptoms, Effects, and Recovery Options

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Adderall is a stimulant medication prescribed for people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, Adderall is also a commonly abused substance. Those abusing Adderall place themselves at high risk for addiction and mental and physical health problems. Professional addiction treatment can help those who find it difficult to overcome their compulsive use of this drug.


Treatment Center and Recovery Program Options

Trying to stop using Adderall on your own is not easy. Many types of withdrawal symptoms can occur, and some of these symptoms can be dangerous if not treated properly.

The following are some treatment options for Adderall addiction.

  • Inpatient or residential rehab can be helpful for anyone with an Adderall addiction. Here, you’ll be able to detox from the Adderall as you work closely with a therapist and other addiction professionals. Inpatient treatment may also be helpful for those with co-occurring mental health issues – such as depression – or those abusing other drugs in addition to Adderall.
  • Outpatient rehab offers many of the same services as inpatient, such as group and individual counseling. But if you’re enrolled in an outpatient program, you’ll visit the treatment center only at certain times during the week, instead of staying at a facility 24 hours a day.
  • Group counseling can provide peer support for recovery, reduce the isolation that addicted persons struggle with, provide the structure that is often needed by someone struggling with addiction and provide role models for recovering addicts to learn how to develop their coping skills. 1
  • Individual therapy is usually held weekly and may be combined with group therapy. It can be an important component of both inpatient and outpatient programs. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individual therapy for substance abuse treatment typically includes approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, motivational interviewing or motivational enhancement therapy, and contingency management.2
  • 12-step programs such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are a part of many treatment programs. Some people find recovery through 12-step meetings alone. But in many cases it may be beneficial to first have a medical evaluation and participate in a more medically supervised form of treatment. Twelve-step programs are an integral part of aftercare following any type of treatment – providing ongoing, continual support to help you maintain abstinence.1

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms may begin within a few hours to a few days after your last dose.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, withdrawal symptoms that can occur when stopping the use of Adderall include:4

  • Fatigue.
  • Disruption of sleep patterns.
  • Irritability.
  • Increase in appetite.
  • Distressing dreams.
  • Inability to feel pleasure.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Timeline

Withdrawal from Adderall can last from 5 days to 3 weeks.6 You may begin to experience symptoms within a few hours to several days after your last dose.4

During the first few days, you may experience the more acute symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbances and depression. After the initial withdrawal, you may continue to experience some of these symptoms. But they will not be as severe.

Several factors will affect the length and severity of your withdrawal symptoms:

  • How long you took Adderall.
  • The amount you took.
  • Your weight.
  • Other mental or physical conditions.
  • Your age.

Can I Stop Cold Turkey?

doctor comforting patient quitting adderall

Quitting Adderall suddenly without medical oversight can be very difficult. Relapse is very common without support. Many people often begin taking the drug again to avoid the unpleasant side effects of withdrawal.

Instead of quitting Adderall cold turkey, consult a physician who can medically supervise a taper from Adderall or find a recovery center that provides medically supervised detox. The emotional and physical support you receive will aid in achieving recovery success, make the withdrawal less difficult and also enable you to be monitored for any complications.

In addition, you may have mental health issues, such as depression, that can first appear or rapidly worsen during Adderall withdrawal. In these instances, there may be a real danger of suicidal thoughts and/or attempts. Proper medical supervision can help to keep you safe.


How to Help Someone Quit

If someone you care about is abusing Adderall, here are some suggestions for getting them help.

  • Approach them calmly. Although family may feel that they are at their wit’s end with an addict, expressing anger, shaming, blaming and threatening them can put an addict more on the defensive.
  • Remember that people who are addicted do not think clearly. When they are not ready to receive help, the most logical arguments in the world will not appeal to them. However, it is important to provide support, encouragement and love, even if they don’t seem to be listening.
  • Consider an intervention. But the intervention must not turn into screaming matches or shame the addict. The support of a professional is often helpful to guide this approach.
  • Practice self-care. Remember that you do not have control over the addict, only over yourself. Groups such as Al-Anon help family and friends understand what they can and cannot do for the person.

Benefits of Quitting

Misuse of Adderall can lead to mental and physical health problems. Stopping Adderall can have such benefits as:

  • A healthier heart. Taking Adderall too often, or in too high of a dose, places stress on the cardiovascular system and can lead to conditions such as heart rhythm disturbances.3
  • More stable moods. Adderall addiction can lead to increased anger, irritability, and even paranoia.3 Quitting Adderall can lead to fewer issues with mood swings.
  • Better nutrition and overall health. People abusing Adderall often have issues with appetite and at times do not eat an adequate diet, resulting in vitamin deficiencies and even malnutrition.4

Tips

  • Get professional help. The relapse rate for stopping the use of Adderall is high, and many with Adderall dependencies use other substances as well—particularly sedatives to deal with unpleasant side effects.4 The co-occurrence of other drug use complicates the process of quitting and increases the risk of complications. People with Adderall addictions may also need treatment for ADHD, PTSD, and antisocial personality disorder.4
  • Address the root cause of the addiction. Stopping the use of Adderall is important. But why did you become addicted in the first place? Were you or your loved one using Adderall to increase academic performance, push yourself to work too many hours or control your weight?



Frequently Asked Questions

Will I Gain Weight if I Quit?

Work with your physician to find healthier ways to manage weight.

This is often a concern for people who have experienced a good deal of appetite suppression while on Adderall, particularly if they lost weight while on the medication.

You may gain weight when you stop taking Adderall. But you can work with a physician to find healthier ways to manage your weight.

What Should I Know About Quitting Adderall While I’m Pregnant?

Using amphetamines such as Adderall during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of premature and low birth rate. Newborns may also experience withdrawal symptoms, and children may develop behavioral problems later on.5

All the concerns and precautions about quitting Adderall without medical oversight apply to pregnant women.


Sources

[1]. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2005). Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy.

[2]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Treatments for substance abuse disorders .

[3]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014) Commonly abused drugs charts.

[4]. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5thed. Arlington, VA American Psychiatric Publishing, 2013.

[5]. UptoDate. Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine: Drug information.

[6]. Australian Government Department of Health. (2004). The amphetamine withdrawal syndrome .

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Last updated on December 13, 2018
2018-12-13T22:12:57+00:00