Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms Explained
Need to stop and wondering what Adderall withdrawal symptoms to expect?
If so, read on to learn:
- About common Adderall withdrawal symptoms.
- If you can detox at home or if you possibly need residential care.
- How to help a loved one through the detox process.
- How to check yourself for addiction (differentiating between dependence and dependence + addiction).
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Adderall contains the active ingredients amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. If you take Adderall chronically you become dependent. Once dependent, you will experience withdrawal symptoms with sudden stoppage.
- The duration and intensity of withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on the length and intensity of use. Longer use at higher doses will result in more difficult and prolonged withdrawal symptoms.
- Even short binges of Adderall use can result in several days of withdrawal symptoms.
- Feelings of depression
- Fatigue and mental fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Impaired social functioning
- Stomach cramps
- Increased appetite
- Anxiety, irritability and agitation
- Long periods of sleep
- Unusually vivid dreams
- Suicidal thoughts
The most common symptoms are depression, fatigue and excessive sleep. These symptoms are most severe for the first 2 or 3 days after stoppage. Withdrawal symptoms typically last from a few days to 3 weeks in duration, though some symptoms, like cravings and anhedonia, may persist for much longer.3
Learn to beat cravings with urge surfing.
Can You Detox at Home?
Usually yes – in some severe cases, no.
Psychostimulant withdrawal (such as with Adderall) isn’t normally dangerous and you can usually detox at home, however in more serious cases, hospitalization or residential care is needed for stabilization and safety. You may need residential care or hospitalization if:4
- You have a history of repeated failed home detox attempts.
- You have a very high dependency.
- You lack a safe or stable place to stay for your detox.
- You are also dependent on a secondary drug, such as opioids, alcohol or benzodiazepines.
- You have a serious co-occurring psychiatric or physical health condition.
Helping a Loved-One through Adderall Withdrawal
Adderall withdrawal is rarely dangerous and people can usually detox at home, especially when there is a responsible and supportive person present to assist with the process.
If someone you love needs to detox, get educated and stay understanding - you can be a great to help them throughout the ordeal:5
- Be very calm and supportive and create a soothing and low-stimulation environment for the detox.
- Learn as much as you can about psychostimulant withdrawal, so you can offer reassurance and information if your loved one experiences distressing symptoms.
- Help the detoxing person keep their fluids and energy up by providing regular food and drink.
- Avoid any confrontation or arguments for the first few days – angry outbursts and bad manners are excusable during withdrawal.
- Regularly check vital signs and emotional state. Sadness and depression are common and typically transient but do not dismiss any warning signs of suicide – get help right away! Psychostimulants are also associated with paranoia and psychosis, and this can actually worsen during the initial withdrawal phase. Seek medical advice if you observe hallucinations or delusions, in some cases, medication or even hospital admittance will be necessary.
Remember though, making it through the detox period doesn’t mean you’re past the worst of it, relapse is common after the end of detox, especially when you don’t follow detox with continued addiction treatment of some form.6
Medications for Adderall Withdrawal?
There are no FDA approved medications for the treatment of Adderall withdrawal or addiction. A recent Cochran Summaries study determined that the drug mirtazapine was possibly effective as an agent to reduce the hyperarousal and anxiety common to amphetamine withdrawal syndromes.7
For the most part, you may find OTC medications effective to reduce individual withdrawal symptoms, but no medication really helps reduce withdrawal severity as a whole (like Suboxone does for opioid users.)
Are You Addicted or Just Dependent?
You are abusing Adderall if:
- You use this medication without a prescription
- You use this medication in greater quantities or more frequently than prescribed
- You use this medication for purposes other than prescribed.
People abusing Adderall are at high risk for addiction and will generally develop a tolerance to its effects and need to take increasingly larger doses of the medication to achieve the desired effects.
You are at higher risk to get addicted to Adderall if you’ve ever had a drug or alcohol problem or if anyone in your close family has ever had a drug or alcohol problem.8
Are you addicted? To find out, compare your current thoughts and behaviors to the World Health Organization’s signs of amphetamine dependence syndrome:9
- You are engaging in repeated amphetamine use.
- You have a strong desire to take this drug.
- You have a hard time controlling how much you take.
- You continue to use the drug even though you can see that it does you harm.
- Using the drug has become more important to you than other activities and responsibilities.
- You have experienced an increase in your drug tolerance.
- You experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop using.
Learn more about the brain changes of stimulant addiction.
Do You Need Adderall Addiction Treatment?
Many people are able to quit using Adderall on their own, even after abusing the medication and becoming addicted.
- You may wish to talk to your doctor (honestly) about your Adderall abuse and decision to stop. She may prescribe you certain medications to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and she may have further good advice on lifestyle tips to get back on your feet again a little faster (diet, exercise!)
- You may also want to consider addiction treatment. With addiction you experience lasting changes to brain function and structure and research shows that people with addiction who get involved with addiction treatment have longer periods of remission between episodes of relapse and better overall functioning10.
Need an Incentive to Stop?
Adderall Abuse and Heart Attack Risks
Though Adderall withdrawal can be difficult and unpleasant, abusing Adderall for recreational reasons isn’t a great idea – and the older you get, the more dangerous the habit.
Amphetamines at therapeutic doses (much lower than what you’d typically use recreationally) can cause stroke, heart attack and sudden death, especially among adults who are far more likely than children to have coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and other serious cardiac problems. If using Adderall, get immediate medical attention if you ever experience cardiac warning signs like fainting, chest pain or shortness of breath.11
Read the FDA's Adderall Drug Safety Handout.
Adderall and Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders
Though not examining Adderall specifically, researchers in Australia found a high prevalence of psychiatric symptoms among illicit amphetamine users, specifically:
- More than 50% reporting symptoms of depression.12
- More than 60% reporting symptoms of anxiety.
- More than 30% reporting having experienced symptoms of psychosis.
Since pre-existing conditions like anxiety or depression may worsen in the withdrawal period, it’s important to get the mental health treatment you need during the early stages of abstinence.
Do you have adult ADHD? Should you get an ADHD Coach?
- Mayo Clinic: Adderall
- Wikipedia: Amphetamine
- Merck Manual: Amphetamines
- Turning Point: Alcohol and Drug Withdrawal Practice Guidelines
- Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs: Clinical Guidelines for Nurses
- Psychostimulant Withdrawal and Detoxification
- The Cochrane Library: Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal
- Medline: Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine
- WHO: Amphetamine Dependence Criteria
- American Society of Addiction Medicine: Definition of Addiction
- Adderall Drug Warnings
- Risks Associated with Psychostimulant Abuse
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