Common Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

What Adderall Withdrawal Feels Like

adderall withdrawal symptoms

In a recent New York Times article, author Kate Miller described what quitting Adderall cold turkey and her subsequent Adderall withdrawal symptoms felt like:

I flushed the remaining medicine down the toilet. I wish it had ended that easily.

In the months that followed, I was exhausted all the time. I slept through appointments and was unable to stay up to meet deadlines.

The drug had curbed my appetite, and helped me to drop from a size 8 to a 4. Without it now I was ravenous and neurotic about what I was eating and how I looked.

I was sensitive and emotional from the new chemical imbalance, which gaining weight and falling behind at work exacerbated.

It was hard to understand that I was experiencing withdrawal, because I was never warned of possible side effects.

Without the drug I felt stupid, unable to focus or follow a thought through to completion.

I was shy, and unwilling to initiate conversation. The witty, articulate woman I once was seemed to no longer exist.

I felt dumb, out of it.

I spoke slowly because it took immense effort to gather and express coherent thoughts.

Another ex-addict drew this timeline to describe his own 90-day recovery from Adderall Addiction:

adderall withdrawal symptoms - recovery process 90 days

Notice the bottom axis: it’s measured in months, not days.

Many long-time users report similar experiences, especially if they were using Adderall daily for many weeks or months and did not need it to control a real medical condition.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be awful. 

You may feel like half the person you were before using the drug, and these feelings may last for months. The most common withdrawal symptoms include (click to learn more):

Fatigue

Depression

Sleep Disorders

Mental Confusion

Increased Hunger

Anxiety

Irritability

Lucid Dreams

Panic Attacks

Loss of Libido

Disconnectedness

Because many of these symptoms can impact relationships with others, it’s a good idea discuss these symptoms with your loved ones, so they will understand better once you quit.

 

How Bad Can It Get?

There are many different withdrawal symptoms that people experience when they stop taking Adderall after using it for an extended period of time.

Although death and permanent damage are uncommon, a person withdrawing from Adderall can become seriously depressed and detached from others, which can lead to suicide or dangerous violent behavior.

This is why it is important to have a support network in place before attempting to quit.

If you feel that you are in over your head, then before you quit taking Adderall speak with a doctor about weaning yourself off of the drug – especially if you’ve been using an extraordinarily high amount for months.

Tapering-down drug use is a tricky thing to manage for many, however, so get professional help if that is your plan.

While it is tough to make it through Adderall withdrawal, it is absolutely necessary in order to be free of your addiction, long term.

When you are experiencing the worst symptoms, try to keep in mind that it is only temporary. Taking another pill or a snort will only delay the inevitable. The faster you get through it, the closer you will be to quitting for good.

Believe me, those dark and numb feelings will eventually pass, and your old self will return.

How Long Do Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The most severe physical Adderall withdrawal symptoms tend to spike within 2-3 days after your last dose of Adderall. During this time you may experience rapid heart rate, feelings of lethargy and fatigue, and possibly intense mental depression. Seizures are also common and can be life-threatening.

Because of the medical risks associated with Adderall withdrawal, you should only end an addiction under medical supervision. Contact your doctor or a professional treatment center to discuss your options.

After the initial onset, some of your withdrawal symptoms may last up to several months. A good rule of thumb is to plan on a withdrawal period of 90 days. The length of time depends on how much you have abused the drug and the process you use to withdraw from it.

In addition to the physical side effects, you may suffer from psychological dependency, which is best treated by a trained addiction counselor or psychiatrist.

Get Ready For The Crash

When you stop taking Adderall cold-turkey, you may experience what is known as an “Adderall crash“.

Adderall addiction forums are rife with stories of hard crashes. They can be debilitating.

The reason your body crashes is this: when you quit taking an amphetamine (stimulant) like Adderall, your dopamine receptors react violently to the loss of stimulation.

As you can see from the following chart, Adderall dissipates quickly from your body, leaving your receptors in a state of shock.

half life of adderall by dosage

Half Life of Adderall in the bloodstream

As a result of the loss of stimulation, you will almost immediately begin to feel sluggish and disconnected from the world around you. In addition, you will likely experience feelings of tiredness, fatigue and insomnia.

The most common problems experienced during an Adderall crash include:

  • powerful craving for more
  • strange sleep patterns: bouts of insomnia, or sleeping too much
  • intense hunger pangs
  • tiredness and irritability
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • feelings of inadequacy
  • depression
  • feeling disconnected from the world and from others
  • inability to feel compassion or love
  • suicidal thoughts

The severity of your crash will depend on how well you manage your detoxification process.

Side Effects of Withdrawing from Adderall

Adderall withdrawal produces different symptoms in different people, depending on your age, sex, mental condition and other factors. The most common symptoms experienced include:

  • skin & acne problems
  • lack of sleep OR over-sleeping
  • fatigue OR hyperactive behavior
  • irritability, anger
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • personality changes that your friends and family will notice
  • psychosis or psychotic episodes have also been reported.

Pregnant Women

Premature birth and reduced birth weight are two documented side effects from Adderall abuse. In addition, newborns may experience withdrawal symptoms leading to irritability and sleep deprivation.

Children

Children under 13 who quit taking Adderall may experience:

  • a loss of appetite
  • sleep problems including insomnia and oversleeping
  • stomach cramps, diarrhea, pains
  • nausea & vomiting
  • fever & chills
  • anxiety, nervousness, jittery behavior

Teenagers

Common Adderall withdrawal symptoms among 13-20 yr olds include:

  • a loss of appetite
  • sleep problems including insomnia and oversleeping
  • stomach cramps, diarrhea, pains
  • anxiety, nervousness, jittery behavior
  • weight loss

Adults

Common side effects in adults include:

  • a loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • nausea and vomiting
  • anxiety, nervousness, jittery behavior
  • dry mouth
  • urinary tract infections (UTI)
  • headaches
  • dizziness and fatigue
  • anxiety and panic attacks
  • weight loss
  • heart issues (rapid heart rate, palpitations)

Drug InteractionS

Some prescription and over-the-counter drugs may cause problems during Adderall withdrawal. Make sure your physician knows about all of the drugs (prescription and over the counter) that you are taking and will need to continue taking during withdrawal.

Coping with the Comedown

Adderall is one of the most over-prescribed and abused prescription drugs on the market. As a result, millions of people have now successfully withdrawn from an addiction to Adderall. One of the side effects of so many people suffering is that we now know a lot about how to do this right.

Here are some of the best practices:

Call Your Doctor

Before you begin withdrawing, make sure you call your doctor to explain what you are about to do. Without doctor supervision, you can hurt yourself or cause yourself to relapse unnecessarily.

In addition, your doctor can monitor your withdrawal process and adjust dosages over time to minimize your pain and suffering.

Lower Your Dosage Over Time

Don’t try to quit Adderall cold turkey!  The best way to minimize Adderall withdrawal symptoms is to wean yourself down off the drug, over time.

Make sure a doctor oversees your taper-down regimen. You doctor can monitor how well things are progressing and quickly adjust dosage to smooth your recovery.

Tapering-down also makes it easier on your body and mind, which leads to better outcomes and fewer relapses for most.

Medications Can Help

So far, there are no drug therapies to control all of your withdrawal symptoms. A 2009 research study, “Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal“, concluded that withdrawal symptoms associated with Adderall and other amphetamines cannot be treated with drugs.

While no drugs will completely stop your withdrawal symptoms, some drugs can help.

If you are having extreme mood or personality issues, short-term anti-depressants can help.

Over the counter pain killers such as ibruprofen and aspirin can help alleviate the general aches and pains that often come during detoxification.

There is more research underway to find comprehensive drug therapies for amphetamine withdrawal, but at this time you should accept the fact that you will need professional help to get through this.

Develop Healthy Habits

Withdrawing completely from Adderall dependency may take weeks or months. This is why developing new healthy physical and mental habits are important.

Eating correctly and sleeping well are really important. Regular physical exercise is a great way to help you counter the interruption in sleep patterns and the weight gains from over-eating that often occurs during withdrawal.

Sleep!

Successful strategies for dealing with sleep problems include:

  • Turn off your smartphone, tablet and TV at least 1 hour prior to bedtime.
  • Establish a regular daily sleep schedule: get up at the same time every day, go to sleep at the same time.
  • Turn your bedroom into a calm sanctuary: incense, soft music and silence can help.
  • Try meditating or mild yoga to calm your mind.

Get Professional Help – Before You Quit

I hope this primer has convinced you that withdrawing from Adderall is not something you should do on your own. You need professional help to do this right.

Here are three ways to get that help before you try to quit:

1) Call your doctor: Always call your doctor before quitting Adderall. Your doctor may be able to guide your wean-down off the drug. Even if you use another source of assistance like rehab or outpatient therapy, make sure your doctor knows that you will be quitting Adderall. S/he may have valuable advice regarding possible drug interactions or side effects to watch out for.

2) Speak with an addiction treatment center:  even if you don’t plan to enter rehab, it’s a good idea to call a professional treatment center for advice regarding the right way to detox and wean yourself off. They are experts at this, and you can learn alot. Listen to what they can do to help, as well. Rehab isn’t for everyone, but it just might be the right course for you.

3) Contact a psychiatrist:  if you already see a psychiatrist, then it’s critical to speak with him/her before quitting Adderall. If you don’t see a psychiatrist, it still can help to talk with one before withdrawing. Psychiatrists understand how drugs and minds work together better than any other type of medical professional. Many Adderall addicts are using the drug to control or suppress feelings, and those feelings may come back stronger than ever when you quit.

The Bottom Line

With professional oversight and treatment and a good support system in place, you will get through your Adderall crash and your withdrawal symptoms in a few weeks, and you will be a much stronger person afterwards.


Is Adderall Addiction Ruining Your Life?

If you or a loved one are addicted to Adderall and need to quit, then call our hotline at (866)938-6233 to learn about the treatment options available to you.

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