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Adderall Crash: Coping Strategies & Prevention Tips

While there isn’t a huge amount of research into Adderall crashes, it’s clear that some people who regularly use the drug and then stop experience a sometimes debilitating comedown process. This also seems to be more likely to occur if a person misuses the drug. 

Struggling with Stimulant Addiction? Get Help Now

Adderall is made of a pair of stimulants that can cause dependence.[1] If a person becomes dependent on the drugs and then quits their use, they will experience withdrawal. 

What Is an Adderall Crash?

An Adderall crash is an experience some people have once they stop using Adderall after taking it for a prolonged period, especially if they were misusing it.[2]

 Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These are two central nervous system stimulants that change how much of certain substances are present in the brain. These medications can help treat a variety of mental health issues if used as prescribed.[1]

The regular use of stimulants can lead to a comedown when someone stops taking them. This comedown can sometimes last for days. It may, in some ways, cause a person to feel the opposite of how the Adderall they were taking made them feel. The severity of a crash is likely to vary depending on the amount of Adderall a person was taking, whether they were taking any other drugs with their Adderall (knowingly or not), and how quickly they stopped their drug use.[3] 

Crash vs. Comedown

There’s no official definitional difference between crash and comedown, although most people would use the word crash to describe an especially severe comedown. Broadly, both terms just refer to the feeling one experiences when coming off the effects of a drug. 

Most drugs have at least some level of comedown, where their effects start to fade, and a person might feel slightly worse or at least different as their body is less and less affected by the drug.

What people call a crash is likely often a combination of two things. First, the excited, energized feeling a person might have felt while using Adderall goes away. Second, in the absence of the drug, a dependent body will experience a variety of negative withdrawal symptoms that even further widen the gulf between how the person feels and how they feel off the drug.

What Happens During an Adderall Crash?

An Adderall crash is likely to cause you to feel tired and worsen your overall mood. It may be hard during this time to perform activities you might need to do in your day-to-day life, like going to work or school. You may struggle to stay awake or keep focused. If you were taking your Adderall as prescribed to help treat a medical condition, you will also likely start to notice symptoms your medication had been helping to treat return.[3]

A crash can last for multiple days and might be fairly severe if you were regularly abusing Adderall or other stimulants before stopping. This is the result of acute withdrawal. Your body grew dependent on the stimulants in its system and is basically going haywire in the absence of those drugs, slowly readapting to drug abstinence.[4] 

In many cases, a person who experiences a severe Adderall crash, or expects that they will, should talk to a doctor about the best way to stop taking Adderall and any other drugs they’re on. A doctor can help make stopping easier and reduce your chance of a relapse into drug abuse. If you’ve been abusing Adderall, reach out to an addiction treatment professional.

How to Handle an Adderall Crash or Comedown 

When you stop taking Adderall, you should first acknowledge that some level of crashing might occur. Even if you weren’t abusing Adderall, it’s possible to have a comedown as a result of becoming dependent on the drug after prescribed use. Reminding yourself of this fact may make the experience less anxious and help you remember that it is temporary.

If at all possible, avoid environments that will make it easy to engage in further Adderall use while on a comedown. Your drug cravings will likely be very high at this time, but you will need to resist abusing drugs. If you feel like you can’t, talk to an addiction treatment specialist and consider entering into a detox program, where you can go through withdrawal at a care facility.

While admittedly not always an option, the ability to take a break from very demanding work or education while you recover can help make a crash easier. It also reduces the risk that you endanger yourself or others while feeling lethargic or otherwise unlike yourself.  

Can a Crash Be Avoided?

An Adderall crash becomes much less likely to occur, and less likely to be severe if one does occur, if you only take your medication as prescribed and only for as long as your doctor feels it’s necessary. If you decide to quit, talk to your doctor rather than suddenly doing so. They may be able to help slowly reduce your dose rather than having you quit all at once.

Exactly how common crashing is isn’t a well-studied issue, but it’s clear that most discussion of the topic is related to Adderall abuse or the abuse of more powerful stimulants (like cocaine). This also highlights why it’s important not to trust drugs bought illegally. Adderall from a pharmacy can usually be trusted to just be Adderall, but “Adderall” bought from a drug dealer might be partially or entirely something else. 

Updated March 21, 2024
  1. Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published April 15, 2019. Accessed February 25, 2024.
  2. Cheng A, Tithecott GA, Edwards WE, Johnston IG. The impact of the withdrawal of Adderall XR (long-acting mixed amphetamine salts) from the Canadian market on paediatric patients and their families. Paediatrics & Child Health. 2007;12(5):373-378.
  3. Amphetamine. FRANK. Accessed February 25, 2024.
  4. Ciccarone D. Stimulant Abuse: Pharmacology, cocaine, methamphetamine, treatment, attempts at pharmacotherapy. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2011;38(1):41-58.
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