Adderall Withdrawal: Everything You Need to Know

September 9, 2022

Since the drug hit the market in 1996, Adderall has become one of the most widely prescribed and widely abused drugs in the world.

Adderall addiction is most common in teenagers and college students since the effects of the drug help people concentrate and provide a long-lasting energy boost to get through their day.

Due to the lack of immediate side effects, it becomes easier for people to justify taking more and more of the drug to keep up with daily tasks. Over time, physical and psychological tolerances develop.

Instant Release vs XR

Although there are a number of different types of prescription amphetamines that people abuse, the timeframe of withdrawal symptoms will depend on whether you have been taking instant-release or extended-release (XR) pills.

Instant release is processed far quicker, meaning withdrawal symptoms after abusing them could set in just a few short hours after the body finishes processing it. With XR pills, it could take a couple of days for your body to fully burn through it.

This may create a false impression in the user that they won’t be experiencing withdrawal symptoms, and when they do come, they could be incorrectly attributed to some other cause.

Symptoms of Abuse

The dangers of Adderall abuse are more subtle than other narcotics, so it might be harder to identify if someone you know, or even you, is abusing the drug. But there are some red flags to look out for that can tip you off:

Crushing or snorting the drug

If you or someone you know is taking the drug and exhibiting at least a few of these signs of addiction, then it might be time to stop taking the drug, which may incur a number of withdrawal symptoms.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Unlike opioids and some anti-depressants, the physical withdrawal from Adderall won’t be so strong that it could cause death, at least not directly.

However, there are a number of other symptoms that need to be managed and treated.

Depression

Depression is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms since Adderall, among other things, increases dopamine in your brain. 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter known as the “feel good” chemical. The brain’s strategic release of it is meant to affect motivation and stimulate our reward centers.

Over time, your body will grow dependent on Adderall to continue producing dopamine. This is why it’s recommended in most cases to slowly taper down Adderall use and not quit cold turkey.

The slow taper will allow your brain time to start producing dopamine again and can circumvent major depressive episodes.

But even with tapering, depression can occur anywhere from within a few hours to a few days, depending on how long and what type of Adderall you have been taking, and could last as long as a month after your last dose. 

Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon, so it is incredibly important to reach out to a doctor if this occurs.

Psychosis 

The intense effect Adderall has on your dopamine production can cause psychosis both during its use and once withdrawals set in. The symptoms of psychosis are similar in nature to schizophrenia and include:

These symptoms are likely to go away on their own in just a couple of days, but it’s advised to seek medical help immediately to prevent any harm done to yourself or others.

Under a doctor’s supervision, psychotic episodes can be treated with antipsychotic medication.

Aches and Pains

A few days after you stop taking Adderall, your symptoms will likely worsen slightly before they get better. At this stage, physical pains are not uncommon, and people often report headaches, nausea, and joint and muscle pain, especially in the abdominal region.

Most withdrawal-induced pain won’t be severe enough to require prescription medications, so over-the-counter pain relievers should be enough. 

If the pain is severe or is unaffected by Advil or Tylenol, then don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor and see if there’s something else they recommend.

Extreme Fatigue

One of the main reasons people begin using Adderall is to combat the fatigue they feel when trying to get through their normal day-to-day schedule. 

After spending months or even years depending on Adderall for the additional boost to get you through your day, your body will need some time to recover and re-learn to rely on natural, or, at the very, least non-illicit means for energy production.

When this is going on, you will have a hard time concentrating, staying awake, and staying motivated to get through the day.

All of the reasons you started using and then abusing Adderall will be amplified, and you could be left feeling hopeless and like detoxing from the drug was a mistake.

However, all the symptoms of Adderall withdrawal, awful as they may seem, are only temporary. The depressive thoughts and feelings, overtiredness, and lack of focus will all dissipate, and you’ll begin feeling like yourself again.

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