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Adderall Withdrawal and Detox

Ironically, the withdrawal symptoms of Adderall are opposite its effects. Common symptoms include fatigue, depression and difficulty concentrating.

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What Is Adderall Withdrawal?

Fatigued/depressed man

People who take large doses of Adderall for prolonged periods of time run the risk of becoming physically dependent on the drug. When this happens, a tolerance builds up, meaning it takes larger and more frequent doses to get the same effects as before.

Those who have a tolerance to Adderall often feel like the drug doesn’t help them concentrate or increase their energy like it did before. However, if they stop taking the drug, they can’t think or function normally.

These are the first stages of withdrawal. Withdrawal usually only affects those who took frequent high doses over an extended period of time.

Adderall withdrawal is a result of the body recalibrating itself to function without the drug. While withdrawal from Adderall is rarely dangerous on its own, it may prompt suicidal thoughts for some.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Unsurprisingly, the symptoms of withdrawal from Adderall are essentially the opposite of the drug’s effects. While Adderall increases concentration, euphoria and energy, the crash that follows after someone stops taking the drug results in a reversal of these effects. People who have a higher tolerance for Adderall have a more severe withdrawal.

Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Oversleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Achiness
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

In 2013, former Adderall addict and writer Kate Miller explained how withdrawal from Adderall made her feel slow and mentally foggy.

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.

- Kate Miller, New York Times, 2013.

Duration of Withdrawal

The duration of withdrawal from Adderall will be different for everyone. Some people may stop experiencing symptoms in as little as five days, whereas it may take three weeks or more for others.

The biggest factors that affect the duration of withdrawal are the dose, frequency and time someone took Adderall. People who took larger doses, more frequently and for a longer period of time can expect withdrawal symptoms to last longer.

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Prolonged Withdrawal Symptoms – Adderall vs. Adderall XR

There are two common types of Adderall, instant and extended release. Regular Adderall is an instant-release drug that generally lasts for up to six hours, while Adderall XR (extended release) is meant for around-the-clock use. The duration of withdrawal varies for these drugs.

Because regular Adderall starts working immediately, and its effects wear off in several hours, it leaves the body fairly quickly. Conversely, Adderall XR builds up and stays in the body longer.

People who have used regular Adderall begin feeling withdrawal sooner than those who have taken Adderall XR.

Additionally, withdrawal from Adderall XR may last weeks longer than typical Adderall because it takes longer for the body to detox.

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Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

First 6-36 hrs. The first signs of withdrawal can show up within the first few hours after the last dose. Many people experience the crash of stimulant withdrawal during this period, marked by intense depression and fatigue.
Days 3-5 Symptoms intensify during the first week. Intense feelings of irritability, depression and fatigue are common. Some people also experience headaches and nightmares. This is typically the height of withdrawal intensity.
Days 5-7 Symptoms of withdrawal begin fading after about five days. Many people still feel moody and incapable of functioning normally in social settings, but they start feeling better during this time. Minor psychological symptoms, such as mild depression, may continue after this period but are far less severe.
Weeks 3-4 In some cases, people have reported feeling the effects of withdrawal from Adderall weeks after their last dose. This can happen to people who have a high tolerance and have been using the drug for more than a year.

Adderall Detox

Detoxification is the process of getting a drug out of the user’s system. Once Adderall leaves the body, the symptoms of withdrawal begin. Because these symptoms can make it difficult to function in daily life without a relapse, some people need help during detox.

Adderall detox often involves a tapering down strategy. Gradually reducing a person’s doses over time minimizes the symptoms of withdrawal.

Addiction specialists at inpatient rehabs can help Adderall users reduce their doses.

Some people choose to quit taking Adderall cold turkey. Those who have done so successfully typically do it in rehab or with the help of a counselor to prevent relapse.

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Recovering from an Adderall Addiction

Getting through the withdrawal from Adderall is rarely dangerous, but for many, it’s not easy to accomplish alone. A lot of people relapse during the withdrawal period in an effort to put a stop to their symptoms or satiate their cravings.

Therapy and a good support structure can ensure bearable withdrawal symptoms and a successful recovery. If you need help giving up Adderall, find help now.