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Stopping Adderall Cold Turkey: Dangers to Know

It’s not safe to quit Adderall cold turkey. Instead, work with a talented treatment team on a detox plan. Together, you can decide how to discontinue the drug safely and effectively.

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Adderall is a stimulant medication capable of altering your brain chemistry in powerful and persistent ways. If you quit the drug abruptly, your brain cells won’t function properly. 

Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be both powerful and long-lasting. When they hit, you could be tempted to relapse. Don’t attempt to quit cold turkey. Get help instead.

What Happens When You Quit Adderall Cold Turkey?

A cold-turkey detox approach involves taking your normal dose of Adderall one day and nothing the next. Brain cells are forced to immediately adjust to a lack of the drug. They need time to make the transition, and as they do, you can experience powerful withdrawal symptoms. 

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Adderall withdrawal could be considered a natural process. Your body is healing and learning how to live without the drugs it once relied upon. But it’s also incredibly painful and dangerous. 

Researchers say Adderall withdrawal can be so significant that it impairs a person’s ability to function.[1] When drug shortages limited available Adderall in pharmacies, some people turned to street drugs for relief. This illustrates just how awful withdrawal can be. 

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms 

Adderall is a stimulant, and like all medications in this class, it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms when chronic users stop abruptly.

Researchers say withdrawal experiences can vary widely, but they can tend to move in three phases:[2]

  • Crash: You feel intense depression, anxiety, and agitation during the first few days of a cold turkey quit. Cravings for Adderall are intense at this stage. 
  • Intermediate withdrawal: You feel physically and mentally exhausted, so you can’t go to work or school. You feel disinterested in your family, friends, and things that once brought you joy. 
  • Extended withdrawal: You experience periods of intense Adderall cravings. Even a brief exposure to a drug trigger can make you intensely want to take Adderall. 

These symptoms aren’t traditionally life-threatening, but they can be intense and difficult to ignore. Their longevity is a concern too, as your relapse risks exist as long as you feel uncomfortable. 

Dangers & Risks of Stopping Suddenly 

Researchers say intense cravings associated with amphetamine withdrawal can lead directly to relapse.[3] It’s very difficult to make a cold turkey attempt stick. And the more often you try to stop and can’t, the less you believe in your ability to stay sober for a lifetime. 

A relapse to Adderall can lead directly to an overdose. Brain cells heal even during brief episodes of sobriety. If you relapse to a dose that was appropriate before you tried to quit, you could overwhelm your system and experience issues like deep paranoia or a heart attack. 

Severe depression associated with Adderall withdrawal is also dangerous. If you don’t relapse, you could seek out other substances (like alcohol) to boost your mood. Or your mental health could deteriorate so much that you consider suicide or other types of self-harm. 

Is It Safe to Quit Adderall Cold Turkey at Home?

Quitting Adderall cold turkey at home is hard, dangerous, and rarely successful. But technically, it’s safe to do so.

If you can’t afford to get treatment or are deeply resistant to the idea, you could try a cold-turkey quitting process with these steps:

  • Get help. Find a friend or family member willing to stay right by your side as you move through the early stages of detox. Don’t let that person leave your side. 
  • Cut ties. Delete your dealer’s information from your phone, computer, and address book. Make it harder to relapse. 
  • Take time off. Step away from work, social obligations, and other commitments, so you can heal. Give yourself the space to focus only on your detox and recovery.
  • Plan for treatment. Quitting use is just the first step in your path to Adderall sobriety. Find a therapist or treatment program that will work with you when you’re sober. While detox is important, it doesn’t equal recovery. You need therapy to sustain your sobriety.

If you relapse to Adderall use, know that you can enter a treatment program. There’s no shame in a failed attempt to get better. But if you’ve tried to quit alone and failed, don’t try again. Get professional help to increase your chances of success.

How to Quit Adderall Safely 

The safest and most effective way to quit Adderall is to work with a treatment team. While no medications can ease chemical imbalances and get you sober fast, your team can craft a plan to help you move forward. 

Two main Adderall withdrawal approaches exist:

  • Taper: Your doctor determines how much Adderall you’re using now. Together, you create a schedule to help you use a little less every day. Your team will monitor your symptoms and ensure you don’t experience significant problems. If you do, your taper might move slower. 
  • Management: Your team uses antidepressants and other medications to lessen your symptoms as your brain adjusts to a lack of stimulants. 

Either approach can be effective, and your doctor can help you determine which is right for you. 

How Long Will It Take to Detox From Adderall?

Your health, history of addiction, and more can dictate how long your detoxification program lasts. Some people move through the process relatively quickly and then enter therapy. Others need a longer period of treatment with medications before they’re sober.

When you work with medical professionals, they’ll determine the best withdrawal approach for your situation. And they’ll ensure you stay safe and comfortable throughout the process, increasing the likelihood that you successfully detox and enter long-term recovery. 

Updated April 1, 2024
  1. Balancing access to ADHD medication. BMC Medicine. 2023;21:217.
  2. Galanter M, Kleber H. Treatment of acute intoxication and withdrawal from drugs of abuse. The Textbook of Substance Abuse Treatment. Accessed August 2, 2023.
  3. Shoptaw SJ, Kao U, Heinzerling K, Ling W. Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;2009(2):CD003021. Published 2009 Apr 15. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003021.pub2
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