Last Updated Dec 2, 2021
Acute Adderall withdrawal lasts about 3 to 5 days, with a longer withdrawal period following that can last 1 to 2 months.
Adderall withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, although it can sometimes cause severe enough symptoms to warrant immediate medical attention.
What Is Adderall Withdrawal?
Adderall withdrawal can occur when someone who has become physically dependent on Adderall, which is a brand-name drug that combines dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, stops taking it. Their body and brain, having adjusted to the consistent presence of Adderall, will temporarily cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms, and the individual will experience cravings for the stimulant.
Withdrawal usually isn’t intense if one only uses the medication as prescribed and follows a doctor’s instructions for getting off it. However, it can be fairly severe if you have a long history of misusing it and/or suddenly quit it without any type of supportive care.
Key Facts About Adderall Withdrawal
There are some key things to keep in mind regarding Adderall withdrawal:
- Even using Adderall only as prescribed can cause physical dependence, leading to withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking it.
- An estimated 0.2 percent of Americans suffer from a prescription stimulant use disorder, which includes those who struggle with misusing Adderall.
- Severe Adderall withdrawal can sometimes produce symptoms very similar to those of schizophrenia, although unlike schizophrenia, these symptoms are temporary (although still serious enough to warrant medical attention).
- Stimulant withdrawal research lacks some of the attention more widely misused drugs, such as opioids or alcohol, have received, although addiction treatment providers can still provide a much higher level of care to a person than if they attempt to withdraw from Adderall on their own.
Adderall vs. Adderall XR
While their release mechanism is different, Adderall and Adderall XR (extended-release) will work almost identically in terms of dependence and withdrawal symptoms.
Adderall XR is designed to release some dextroamphetamine and amphetamine soon after taking it and the rest later. Regarding withdrawal, this only really means that Adderall XR will take longer to wear off. Thus, withdrawal symptoms will start slightly later than if one last took standard Adderall.
What Causes Adderall Withdrawal?
Adderall withdrawal is caused by a person becoming physically dependent on dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. While this combination of drugs can serve legitimate medical purposes, it can also be habit-forming. The more one uses (and misuses) Adderall, the more likely it is that their brain begins adjusting to the constant presence of the stimulant and tries to compensate.
This compensation is what causes physical dependence, with the brain essentially treating the body in the presence of the stimulant as “normal.” If the drug isn’t present, the brain can underperform in certain ways and cause withdrawal symptoms.
It takes time for a person who has grown dependent on a substance to adjust, so their body works normally again in a sober state.
What Are the Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal?
Adderall withdrawal is characterized first by an initial crash phase, where a person may experience the following:
- Prolonged sleeping
- Depressed mood
- Drug cravings
Then, they will enter a longer phase, where they may experience the following symptoms:
- Mood changes, including irritability, depression, and difficulty experiencing pleasure or joy
- Sleep problems
- Stronger drug cravings
In severe cases, a person may experience psychotic symptoms as a result of withdrawal. Withdrawal-induced psychosis can include things like severe confusion, hallucinations, delusions, extreme mood swings, and more. If a person experiences these symptoms, treat it as a medical emergency.
The initial crash from Adderall withdrawal will begin as the effects of a person’s last Adderall dose wear off. This phase can last a day or two.
The next phase can last several days to multiple weeks. This phase is when a person may experience some of the most serious symptoms associated with withdrawal, including potentially intense drug cravings and possibly the psychotic symptoms discussed earlier (although psychosis is rare).
Withdrawal from stimulants can be expected to take as long as a month or two, with symptoms first peaking and then slowly fading, assuming a person can avoid using Adderall or other stimulants during that time. Note that addiction doesn’t “end” with withdrawal, although many regard this as one of the harder stages of addiction recovery. There is no cure for addiction, so relapse prevention must be ongoing.
Factors That Impact Adderall Withdrawal
Withdrawal can be significantly impacted by a person’s history of Adderall and other stimulant use. Repeated, heavy use is likely to cause significantly more physical dependence. This will likely cause a person to experience more intense withdrawal symptoms and to experience withdrawal for a longer period.
How quickly you stop taking Adderall can also affect withdrawal. Doctors can potentially help you taper your dosing to reduce the severity of your withdrawal, slowly lowering the amount you take over time rather than going from the full amount you typically were taking to nothing.
These are some treatment options to help you manage Adderall withdrawal:
A Tapered Detox
Again, tapering doses of Adderall rather than taking a cold-turkey approach to quitting use can reduce withdrawal. This is usually best done with the help of a medical professional. They will give you a declining dosage schedule to follow, which allows you to gradually stop taking the medication.
Inpatient detoxing is what many people imagine when they think of “detoxing.” This is when you stay at an addiction treatment facility throughout the worst of your withdrawal, which allows you to go through withdrawal in relative comfort and with the oversight of medical professionals who can help you if you have any problems.
Adderall Withdrawal FAQs
Does your brain return to “normal” after stopping Adderall?
Adderall doesn’t “cure” any mental health condition, and it isn’t usually associated with permanent harm to the brain (although it can be taxing on the heart, which can sometimes result in stroke, among other things). Assuming no major health complications occurred that affect the brain due to Adderall use, your brain will likely return to the way it was before taking Adderall once you stop taking it and get through the withdrawal stage.
Should Adderall use be stopped abruptly?
If you want to stop taking Adderall, whether you were using it as prescribed or misusing it, talk to a medical professional about how to stop. Stopping abruptly can produce the most intense withdrawal symptoms, especially without any kind of additional support. Severe withdrawal can often be avoided by talking to a doctor about tapering your doses.
Why does stopping Adderall make me tired?
Adderall is a stimulant, and it can energize the body, so stopping your use of Adderall may make you tired if you don’t normally sleep well or have health conditions that make you tired.
Additionally, the brain can begin adjusting to Adderall, especially if it is misused, and start overcorrecting for that use. If you stop taking it, you may go through withdrawal because of these adjustments, and one of the symptoms associated with stimulant withdrawal is tiredness.
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Intentional Discontinuation of Psychostimulants Used to Treat ADHD in Youth: A Review and Analysis. (April 2021). Frontiers in Psychiatry.
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