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Adderall Withdrawal | Psychological & Physiological Symptoms

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Adderall is an amphetamine-based medication that has become increasingly popular with college students and working professionals due to its perceived ability to increase focus and productivity. 

It’s no surprise, then, that many of these same people end up growing dependent on this drug due to its addictive potential. Unfortunately, dependence or in some cases addiction can lead to discontinuation symptoms — including fatigue, insomnia, depression, and agitation — which come with suddenly stopping (or greatly reducing) the use of Adderall. 

In this blog post we are going to take a look at why someone might experience withdrawal from Adderall, what are signs of an Adderall-induced withdrawal, and some tips for managing the symptoms.

What is Adderall used for?

Adderall, a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, is a prescription medication primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. 

It works by increasing the release of certain stimulant neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, improving focus and attention as well as reducing symptoms of fatigue associated with narcolepsy. 

In addition to treating these conditions, Adderall is also commonly prescribed off-label for other purposes such as depression, weight loss or to help people suffering from sleep disorders stay awake longer. 

While this medication has been found to be very effective for many individuals in treating the above-mentioned conditions, it does come with some potential side effects that may include dry mouth, headache, stomach pain, and insomnia. 

For this reason, it is important that Adderall be taken only as prescribed under medical supervision to avoid Adderall overdose or addiction. 

What is Adderall withdrawal?

Continuous use of Adderall for a long time results in a physical dependence on the drug. That is why Adderall withdrawal occurs when someone suddenly stops taking the drug after having used it for a long period of time. 

The symptoms of Adderall withdrawal range from mild to severe, including fatigue, depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and sleeping stomach problems, and more. Withdrawal can occur within hours or days after stopping the use of the drug and can last up to weeks or even months in some cases. 

It is important to note that the severity of symptoms depends on the individual and the length of time they have been using Adderall. 

Is it common to have Adderall withdrawal? 

Yes, it is very common to have Adderall withdrawal as the drug is highly addictive. This is especially common among individuals who take Adderall for non-medical reasons without the supervision of a medical professional.

Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal:

Adderall works by increasing the number of feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain, so when someone abruptly discontinues taking Adderall, they may experience a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. 

Let’s take a look at some of these psychological and physiological side effects of Adderall withdrawal. 

Psychological symptoms

Adderall withdrawal can cause a wide range of psychological symptoms, including depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, impaired concentration and focus, decreased motivation, agitation, and restlessness. 

  1. Depression is one of the most common symptoms seen with Adderall withdrawal. It may be characterized by a general feeling of sadness or despair that often persists for weeks or months after discontinuation. 
  2. Irritability is another prominent symptom of Adderall withdrawal. This can manifest in various forms including lashing out at loved ones or having difficulty controlling emotions. 
  3. Mood swings are also common during Adderall withdrawal and can be severe enough to disrupt daily activities. People may go from feeling euphoric one minute to feeling down and depressed the next without any warning or logical explanation. 
  4. Anxiety is another psychological symptom of Adderall withdrawal that can range from mild to severe depending on the individual and how long they have been using it. Many people feel extremely anxious after coming off the drug and may experience difficulty sleeping as well as physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate. 
  5. Fatigue is a very common side effect during the withdrawal process which can make it difficult to complete even simple tasks throughout the day. 
  6. Concentration and focus are also often impaired during this time due to a decrease in dopamine levels in the brain which affects our ability to pay attention and remember things clearly. Motivation levels typically plummet while withdrawing from Adderall which makes it hard to stay focused on work or other important tasks. 
  7. Agitation and restlessness are also typical feelings experienced while withdrawing from this stimulant since cravings for more of it become unbearable over time due to changes in neurotransmitter levels within the brain.

Physiological symptoms

The most common physical symptoms associated with Adderall withdrawal include fatigue, insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and weight loss. In some cases, withdrawal can also cause gastrointestinal issues like nausea and abdominal pain. Other physical effects can include muscle aches and pains throughout the body.

These symptoms typically start appearing within 24 hours after stopping the medication and can last for several days or even weeks depending on how long you have been taking the drug. 

Additionally, some people may experience more severe physical symptoms such as heart palpitations or seizures during opioid withdrawal. It is important to seek medical help if you experience these more serious side effects. 

How to manage Adderall withdrawal? 

There are many ways to manage Adderall withdrawal symptoms depending on their severity. It is important to note that managing these symptoms should be done in conjunction with medical professionals who understand the user’s particular health needs. 

As most signs of Adderall-induced withdrawal are psychological in nature, medical professionals may also prescribe medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications that can help manage difficult emotions and behavioral issues during withdrawal.

Likewise, it is common for doctors to prescribe over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen and Aspirin to manage body aches and fevers, blood pressure medication to lower heart rate, or sleeping pills like Ambien to tackle insomnia. 

In addition to medications, there are a variety of therapies that are often included in medical detox for Adderall withdrawal such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps identify negative thought patterns associated with addiction and teaches healthy coping skills that can be used after treatment ends. 

Overall, medical detox for Adderall withdrawal may be relatively minor compared to other drugs but it provides individuals with the opportunity to succeed when attempting to get sober from this powerful stimulant drug. 

How long can Adderall withdrawal symptoms last? 

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can last for different lengths of time depending on the individual and their history with the drug. Generally, these symptoms are seen to peak within a week after ceasing Adderall use, and it may take up to a few weeks for them to completely subside. 

However, many people also report lingering withdrawal symptoms for several months after quitting. The timeline of Adderall withdrawal can be divided into three stages: the early phase, the acute phase, and the protracted phase. 

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

Early Phase

The early phase of Adderall withdrawal typically lasts 1-3 days and is marked by fatigue, headaches, difficulty focusing, depression or low moods, irritability or agitation, insomnia or sleep disturbances, cravings for Adderall, and changes in appetite. 

During this time period, individuals may also experience a heightened perception of sensory stimuli such as light and sound as well as hypersensitivity to stressors.

Acute Phase

The acute phase usually occurs 2-3 days after ceasing usage and typically lasts up to 7 days but can persist for much longer in some cases. 

This stage may include more intense physical symptoms such as body aches and pains, nausea; vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness,  cognitive difficulties, emotional disturbances like anxiety or panic attacks, dizziness or vertigo episodes, muscle spasms, dry mouth, and decreased libido. 

Protracted Phase

The protracted phase of Adderall withdrawal typically occurs 7-14 days after ceasing usage although it can last much longer in some individuals. 

This stage is marked by persistent mental health issues such as lack of motivation, inability to experience pleasure, impaired social functioning due to depression and anxiety-related issues, delayed reactions when making decisions, difficulty focusing on work, and brain fog. 

Adderall Detoxification

One of the most effective methods to overcome Adderall addiction is to slowly taper off the drug under the guidance of a physician or addiction specialist. This involves gradually reducing the dose of Adderall over an extended period of time until the drug is no longer being used. 

Tapering off helps minimize any withdrawal effects that may arise due to sudden cessation of use. It is a necessary step for anyone who has been taking this powerful stimulant medication to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy and now wishes to get off Adderall

The goal of detoxification is to rid the body of any remaining traces of Adderall and to reduce the body’s dependence on it. 

What is safe to ingest during Adderall detox?

During Adderall detox, it is safe to ingest foods that are high in vitamins, protein, and fatty acids. Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins and minerals that can aid in detoxification. 

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, tuna, and flaxseed oil, can also help clear toxins from the system. Plus they naturally help with retaining focus and improve overall brain chemistry.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will help flush out toxins as quickly as possible. This also helps with dehydration and diarrhea-related symptoms. Additionally, teas such as ginger tea or chamomile tea can soothe the stomach while helping flush out toxins. Plus, chamomile is known for its soothing effect that can help with irritation and anxiety.

What you should avoid during Adderall detox?

During Adderall detox, you should avoid using certain substances during an Adderall detox. Caffeine and other stimulants should be avoided in order to prevent any further stimulation of the central nervous system. Alcohol should also be avoided as it can worsen withdrawal symptoms and make the detoxification process more difficult. 

Bottom Line: Managing Adderall Withdrawal

If you are considering quitting your use of this medication it is important that you do so under medical supervision in order to ensure that you do not suffer any severe withdrawal symptoms. 

While there are many psychological and physical side effects associated with discontinuing regular use of Adderall it is possible to mitigate them through careful planning with your doctor’s guidance.


Warren Phillips

Warren is a Licensed Master Social Worker, who specializes in substance abuse and mental health treatment. Clinically, Warren has developed a therapeutic skillset that utilizes a strengths-based perspective, Twelve Step philosophies, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Motivational Interviewing.

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Located on the historic peninsula of Charleston, South Carolina, Lantana Recovery takes a modern approach to Substance Use Disorder treatment, offering intensive clinical care while also immersing our clients in local Charleston culture.