Adderall Withdrawal: Timeline and Symptoms

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What Is Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall is commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. It is a stimulant that can cause euphoria when taken inappropriately, and it can be addictive. A person who has been abusing Adderall will experience withdrawal symptoms when he or she stops taking it.

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Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

A person in withdrawal from Adderall will commonly experience:

  • Fatigue.
  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Cravings.
  • Paranoia.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.1,3

These symptoms will vary depending on how long the person took the drug, how much he or she used, the person’s age, and his or her overall health.

Risks of Detox

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Adderall withdrawal is not life-threatening. However, people who are going through Adderall withdrawal may experience depression, which may be accompanied by suicidal thoughts. Those who have been abusing Adderall should be medically monitored and treated for depression if necessary. Other possible medical complications include seizures.3

People who abuse Adderall and other stimulants also often abuse other drugs such as alcohol, sedatives, or opioids, and they may experience withdrawal effects from these drugs as well. 3


Timeline

  • 1-2 days. A few hours after a person’s last dose of Adderall, he or she will usually experience a “crash.” Symptoms during this period may include intense sleep, irritability, depression, increased appetite, and occasional cravings for the drug.
  • 3 days to several weeks. Over the next few days, and sometimes up to several weeks, a person may experience mood swings, irritability, ongoing sleep problems, and sluggishness. Psychosis can emerge in the first couple of weeks.2

Causes of Withdrawal

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Adderall is commonly misused by people who take it without a prescription. Others take Adderall in larger amounts than they have been prescribed. It has become popular among college students, who believe it enhances their academic performance.

Adderall increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is important in processes such as pleasure, reward, and attention. When someone takes Adderall appropriately, the increase in dopamine is slow and steady and improves his or her ability to pay attention. However, when Adderall is taken in doses above those prescribed, is crushed and snorted, or mixed with water and injected, the amount of dopamine in the brain rapidly increases and leads to euphoria.1

Over time, a person who abuses Adderall can develop tolerance to it and require increasingly higher doses to achieve the euphoric effects. Taking high doses over a long period of time can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms when a person abruptly stops using Adderall.


Treatment for Detox

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Detox is only the initial phase of treatment for Adderall addiction. As with any drug addiction, stopping the use of the drug does not automatically lead to full recovery. For most people, the addiction is an indication that other issues are present that will likely lead to relapse if they are not addressed. For example, if a college student became addicted to Adderall while attempting to lose weight, quitting Adderall will not solve the body image issues.

Treatment programs can provide the necessary support and intervention to address these types of issues and lead a person to successfully recover from an Adderall addiction.

  • Detox treatment provides necessary monitoring and support during Adderall withdrawal.A person will stay at a facility 24 hours per day, where medical staff can provide oversight to deal with any potential medical complications. In addition, social workers and counselors may be available to provide emotional support and to address other issues that may arise during detox, such as family conflict.
  • Inpatient rehab, which can include detox, usually lasts for 28 days to 90 days or longer.  Inpatient treatment provides medical assessment and treatment, group counseling, and possibly individual counseling to help the person deal with family and emotional issues that arise during early Adderall recovery. If a person has medical complications, has to withdraw from a number of substances simultaneously, or has underlying psychological conditions such as depression, psychosis, or anxiety, he or she may need to participate in an inpatient program for detox or longer-term treatment.
  • Outpatient rehab may include detox for people experiencing less severe withdrawal symptoms. Some outpatient programs are called partial hospitalization and offer a few hours of treatment per day, up to 7 days per week. Some programs may meet for a few hours one or two days per week. Services will vary based on the needs of the people receiving the treatment, but often include group therapy. The main difference is that those participating in outpatient programs are able to go home when the daily treatment session ends.

Medications for Adderall Withdrawal

No medications are approved to help with Adderall withdrawal.

  • Benzodiazepines are sometimes used to control agitation and irritability during Adderall withdrawal. But they should be used under close supervision and in limited quantities to avoid addiction. It is recommended that benzodiazepines be given for a week at most.2
  • Provigil (modafinil) has also shown to be effective in treating the symptoms of amphetamine withdrawal.2
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron) has shown effectiveness in treating amphetamine withdrawal symptoms in certain settings. 2,3 But again, it is not approved.

If someone relapses on Adderall while taking antidepressants, there may be a reaction between Adderall and the antidepressants, leading to a condition called serotonin syndrome, which must be treated quickly.2


Find a Detox Center

If you or your loved one is in need of a detox center, please call 1-888-319-2606 Who Answers? to speak with a treatment referral specialist about your options. A variety of programs are available for Adderall detox, both inpatient and outpatient, depending on your needs.

Sources

[1]. National Institute on Drug Abuse (2014). Drug Facts: Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.

[2]. Government of South Australia. SA Health. Amphetamine withdrawal management.

[3]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2013). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment: A Treatment Improvement Protocol: TIP 45.

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Last updated on December 13, 2018
2018-12-13T22:13:05+00:00