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Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms, Treatment, and How To Avoid It


Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms, Treatment, and How To Avoid It

Abusing Adderall is a common occurrence among students and workers alike. Prescription stimulants are often seen as cognitive enhancers and miracle drugs that can help you with exams and long days at the office—but only through rose-tinted glasses. 

In reality, Adderall has many side effects, health risks, and a high potential for abuse, making it far from the best treatment for brain fog. 

This article covers what Adderall is, how it is abused, why addiction can be dangerous, and Adderall withdrawal symptoms, as well as alternative options that are not only more sustainable but far healthier.  

Key Takeaways: Adderall Withdrawal

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a stimulant medication made of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.

The drug is only available through a doctor’s prescription after a thorough medical history has been taken and all chronic medication you use has been considered.

The effects of Adderall on people with ADHD include: 

  • Improved focus.
  • Less distractibility.
  • Enhanced learning abilities.
  • Boosted memory retention.

How Does Adderall Work? 

Adderall works by triggering an increase in the concentration of norepinephrine and dopamine in your brain. These neurotransmitters are often imbalanced in people with ADHD, and supplementing their levels can help reduce the symptoms of the disorder. 

Is Adderall Safe?

Taking Adderall is generally safe in the short term if you follow your doctor’s prescription precisely. However, there are a few risks to take into consideration, including:

Adderall Interactions

As a potent stimulant drug, Adderall interacts with more than 180 other medications, including: 

  • Tramadol.
  • Prozac.
  • Sertraline.
  • Omeprazole.

These interactions could cause negative effects or enhance Adderall’s range of side effects.

Adderall Contraindications

Adderall has a few contraindications that could make using the drug more dangerous. These include people with [1]

  • Previous substance abuse problems, as Adderall can be addiction-forming.
  • High blood pressure or heart disease.
  • Untreated hyperthyroidism.
  • Glaucoma.
  • Suspected or confirmed pregnancy.
  • Advanced arteriosclerosis.

Adderall Side Effects

Adderall side effects vary in severity from person to person but may include [1]

  • Decreased appetite.
  • Anxiety.
  • Jitters.
  • Headaches.
  • Weight loss.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Psychosis.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain.
  • Elevated blood pressure.

What Does Adderall Do to a Person Without ADHD?

All these risks should discourage the use of Adderall outside of prescribed doses. However, many people still use Adderall to boost their energy or help them study even without a doctor’s supervision. 

Despite Adderall’s acclaim as a brain booster, its effects are markedly more temporary and not always as powerful in people without ADHD, especially if they are already at a high level of mental and learning abilities when using it [2].

Is Adderall Addictive?

Abusing Adderall by using it without a prescription, taking more than recommended, or taking more frequent doses than indicated can lead to the development of tolerance, making your body need more and more of the drug to experience the same high. 

Using Adderall for a long time could also lead to you becoming physically dependent on the drug and experiencing symptoms of Adderall withdrawal whenever you try to reduce your dose or stop taking Adderall entirely [3].

Gender differences in Adderall misuse among young adults
Adderall misuse is more prevalent in male college students but also more common in non-college females compared to males
Source: https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/trends-statistics/infographics/drug-alcohol-use-in-college-age-adults-in-2018

Signs of Adderall Addiction

Adderall abuse can quickly lead to Adderall dependence if left unchecked. It can be difficult to spot the signs of Adderall addiction if you don’t know what to look for. The following list sums up the most common warning signs.

1. Experiencing Side Effects

If you’re not sure someone is taking the drug, looking out for the common side effects and symptoms may be a good indicator. 

The most common side effects include high blood pressure, weight loss, talkativeness, jitters, and anxiety.

2. Adderall Withdrawal

Amphetamine withdrawal symptoms are a good indicator someone may be using or abusing Adderall. Amphetamine withdrawal syndrome involves a range of physical and emotional symptoms of withdrawal that are discussed in detail later in this article.

3. Long-Term Effects

If someone has been using Adderall for an extended period, they may exhibit various long-term effects or struggle with the health risks caused by the drug. 

These long-term effects include [4]

  • The development of mental disorders like anxiety or depression.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Erectile dysfunction in men.
  • Weight loss.
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Mood swings.

4. Exposure To Risks

People struggling with drug abuse, whether Adderall or other medications, may exhibit reckless behavior and be exposed to more risks, including:

  • Acting impulsively.
  • Experimenting with other drugs.
  • Contracting STDs due to unprotected sex.
  • Exhibiting antisocial behavior.

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

Adderall can cause uncomfortable to severe withdrawal symptoms once you stop taking the drug. When this happens, your dopamine levels drop, and withdrawal symptoms occur within a few hours to a few days after your last dose.

Common withdrawal symptoms may peak within three to four days, also known as an Adderall crash, but this varies from person to person according to the amount of Adderall they used, how long they used it for, and any other underlying conditions.

The next bout of amphetamine withdrawal symptoms usually starts soon after the crash and can continue for a number of weeks.

What Are the Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms?

The intense withdrawal symptoms caused by stimulant drug abuse can be dangerous and disruptive. The most commonly experienced symptoms of withdrawal are typically divided into physical and psychological and are listed below [5].

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall include:

adderall withdrawal
  • Body aches.
  • Extreme fatigue.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Headaches.
  • Sleeplessness.
  • Tremors.
  • Sweating.

Psychological Symptoms

Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense depression.
  • Agitation.
  • Mood swings.
  • Anxiety.
  • Intense cravings.
  • Nightmares and vivid dreams.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Suicidal thoughts.

How Long Does It Take for Withdrawal Symptoms To Subside?

Withdrawal from Adderall typically happens in stages. The first is known as an Adderall crash and may start within hours of your last dose. The crash peaks at around two to three days, after which a new stage begins with often more intense, longer-lasting symptoms of withdrawal which can last for several weeks.

The duration of each withdrawal period varies greatly from person to person, and no one Adderall withdrawal timeline is ever the same as another.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

The initial symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall may subside after two to three weeks, but the withdrawal process could still be far from over. 

Part of the Adderall withdrawal timeline is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It could cause various uncomfortable, albeit less severe, symptoms like insomnia and increased appetite that last for much longer, some up to a year.

How Is Adderall Addiction Treated?

Addiction treatment options for Adderall abuse are varied, but all typically begin with a medical detox process. 

Adderall Detox

Participating in a medically supervised detox is important as Adderall withdrawal can be challenging to experience, and there are very few treatments available to ease symptoms or prevent relapse [6]

Without medical supervision, the likelihood of someone going on an Adderall binge before or during the withdrawal process increases, which could result in a dangerous overdose. 

Rehab

Getting addiction treatment from drug rehab treatment centers is a vital next step. People seeking treatment who have already gone through withdrawal can choose from inpatient, residential, or outpatient treatment at a rehab center where evidence-based therapies and counseling sessions are offered. 

Doctors at these treatment centers may also prescribe antidepressants to rebalance your brain chemistry after experiencing a drop in dopamine levels.

Therapy

For people who abused Adderall, getting professional medical advice and attending individual or group therapy can significantly impact their recovery journey. Discussing the causes of their addiction and the experiences they had during treatment in a non-judgmental environment can help them process these triggers and possibly help them cope with them in the future.

Quitting Adderall Cold Turkey

To quit Adderall cold turkey means to stop taking the drug all at once and not taper it off, as many rehab centers suggest. 

Although this may seem like the easiest way to stop, if you’ve been using Adderall for a long time, it could lead to even worse withdrawal symptoms and a greater likelihood of overdosing. 

Aftercare Treatment for Adderall Addiction

After completing an addiction treatment program, the treatment center may introduce you to an aftercare program to ensure successful recovery from Adderall misuse. These aftercare groups may come in the form of 12-step meetings or sober living homes and depend on your situation.

Adderall Alternatives

If Adderall risks, adverse symptoms, and interactions are making you worry about taking the drug, several natural alternatives can enhance cognitive function without these dangers. 

They are by no means an Adderall replacement but simply a less risky, healthier alternative. 

Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropic supplement that acts as a cognitive enhancer to boost memory, focus, and mental energy through the action of its range of natural ingredients. 

It provides these benefits with minimal side effects and can be purchased as an over the counter Adderall alternative.

For more information, check out our Mind Lab Pro review.

Performance Lab Nootropics

Performance Lab Mind Nootropics is another nootropic supplement that can improve concentration while reducing distractibility and boosting learning abilities. It contains four nootropic ingredients and is an affordable, safe way to improve brain health without the use of prescription drugs. 

To find out more about this supplement, take a look at our complete Performance Lab review.

FAQs

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Adderall withdrawal and its symptoms.

What Should I Do if I Skipped My Adderall?

If you miss a morning dose, take it as soon as possible. However, if it’s less than one or two hours to your next dose, skip it entirely and take your next dose as directed. 

What Timeframe Should You Expect for Adderall Detox?

Initial Adderall detox at an addiction treatment center may take up to three weeks for symptoms to subside.

How Can I Be Productive Without Adderall?

The best nootropics are natural brain boosters that can help you increase your productivity, energy, and focus without using Adderall or other prescription stimulants. 

How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Last?

Adderall withdrawal typically lasts several weeks, after which the most intense symptoms will subside. However, post-acute stimulant withdrawal may persist for months after your last dose.

Do You Eventually Get Used To Adderall? 

Yes, your body can get used to the effect of Adderall and cause you to need higher doses for the same effect in a process called developing tolerance.

How Long Does Depression Last After Quitting Adderall? 

Symptoms of depression are often associated with Adderall withdrawal. They can last for anything between a few weeks up to a year, depending on the duration and amount of the drug you used.

Why Am I So Tired After Stopping Adderall?

Adderall withdrawal symptoms are often the opposite of the drug’s effects, meaning a major effect will be sleepiness and fatigue.

Can Adderall Cause Serotonin Syndrome?

Yes, taking high doses of Adderall can cause serotonin syndrome and symptoms like agitation, confusion, muscle stiffness, and rapid heart rate. 

Conclusion

Withdrawal from Adderall can be just as uncomfortable and dangerous as detoxing from any other substance abuse disorder. By avoiding the use of Adderall and choosing nootropics instead, you can escape the side effects, health risks, and potential for abuse often associated with the use of Adderall. 

References:

  1. Farzam, Khashayar. “Stimulants.” StatPearls [Internet]., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 6 Aug. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539896/.
  2. Lakhan, Shaheen E, and Annette Kirchgessner. “Prescription Stimulants in Individuals with and without Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Misuse, Cognitive Impact, and Adverse Effects.” Brain and Behavior, Blackwell Publishing Inc, Sept. 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3489818/.
  3. Weyandt, Lisa L, et al. “Prescription Stimulant Medication Misuse: Where Are We and Where Do We Go from Here?” Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5113141/.
  4. Berman, S M, et al. “Potential Adverse Effects of Amphetamine Treatment on Brain and Behavior: A Review.” Molecular Psychiatry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Feb. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2670101/.
  5. AA;, Belujon P;Jakobowski NL;Dollish HK;Grace. “Withdrawal from Acute Amphetamine Induces an Amygdala-Driven Attenuation of Dopamine NEURON ACTIVITY: Reversal by Ketamine.” Neuropsychopharmacology : Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26129677/.
  6. W;, Shoptaw SJ;Kao U;Heinzerling K;Ling. “Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19370579/.
 
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