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Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Detox

Acute Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, depression, and intense nightmares, and these can last about 3 to 5 days, although symptoms can linger for a couple of months. Adderall withdrawal is not typically life-threatening, although it can sometimes cause severe enough symptoms to warrant immediate medical attention. [1] The best way to quit Adderall or amphetamines is to seek professional detox services, such as medical detox where you can receive 24-hour care and supervision.

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Key Facts

  • 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. [3]
  • Severe Adderall withdrawal can sometimes produce symptoms very similar to those of schizophrenia, although, unlike schizophrenia, these symptoms are temporary (though still serious enough to warrant medical attention). [5]
  • 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.

What Is Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall withdrawal occurs when someone who is physically dependent on Adderall (dextroamphetamine/amphetamine) suddenly stops taking it or reduces their dose. [2] They experience unpleasant and distressing Adderall withdrawal symptoms that result from the brain and body’s adaptations to the presence of the stimulant. 

These symptoms can vary from person to person but common symptoms include sleep disturbances, depression, anhedonia, and fatigue as well as intense Adderall cravings. [1], [4]

If you are dependent on this amphetamine and want to learn how to live without Adderall, you’ll want to seek out medical detox or other detox services. Professional amphetamine detox can manage your symptoms, provide you with supportive care and medications, offer counseling and case management services, and help you transition into comprehensive rehab.

Prescription Use vs. Misuse

People who take Adderall for a condition like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) will develop dependence over time—this is normal and it doesn’t mean they’re addicted or have a problem. But if they miss a dose or two or suddenly stop taking the medication, they’ll experience amphetamine withdrawal, which is why it’s important to talk to a doctor before quitting a medication. 

On the other hand, people who regularly misuse Adderall to get high, stay up later, or enhance performance may develop more profound dependence and subsequently, more intense withdrawal symptoms. In this case, professional detox is often recommended so people can receive medical support and supervision.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Adderall withdrawal is characterized first by an initial crash phase, followed by a more prolonged withdrawal phase: [1], [6]

Initial CrashProlonged Withdrawal
Problems sleeping
Rapid, purposeless movements
Depressed moodDepression
Suicidal ideationDifficulty experiencing feelings of pleasure
Drug cravingsLethargy
OvereatingSleep disturbances and vivid nightmares
Slowed heart rateSlowed movements and thoughts
JitterinessRapid, purposeless movements
FatigueStronger Adderall cravings

People who misuse stimulants like Adderall may use it in a “binge and crash” pattern, in which they repeatedly use high doses in a short period of time and then crash or “come down” from the drug.

In severe cases, a person may experience psychotic symptoms as a result of Adderall 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 and call 911. [7]

Withdrawal Timeline

Generally, acute Adderall withdrawal symptoms emerge within 24 hours of the most recent dose. [7] 

These withdrawal symptoms can last from 3-5 days, depending on the person, the severity of Adderall dependence and addiction, the dose used, and more. [7]

Although these symptoms tend to resolve relatively quickly, other withdrawal symptoms can linger for weeks or months. This is called post-acute or protracted withdrawal and may include symptoms like: [7]

  • Intense cravings
  • Erratic sleep
  • Rapid mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy

Withdrawal from stimulants, including protracted withdrawal, 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.

1Intense symptoms emerge
3-5Symptoms peak then resolve
Weeks 1-6Protracted withdrawal symptoms may linger

Adderall vs. Adderall XR Timeline

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 the extended-release version of Adderall, which means that it the effects come on slower but last much longer compared. If a person suddenly stops taking Adderall XR, their withdrawal symptoms may take longer to appear than the short-acting version and they are likely to last longer. 

This could look like feeling the symptoms within 2-3 days after stopping Adderall XR and then experiencing acute withdrawal for a couple weeks, with protracted withdrawal lasting weeks or months.

What Causes Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall withdrawal is caused by a person becoming physically dependent on dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. Dependence can occur if someone takes their medication exactly as prescribed or if they misuse it to get high or improve academic performance—although dependence develops more rapidly and severely in those who misuse it.

Regardless of use, Adderall dependence occurs when a person’s brain adapts to the ongoing presence of the stimulant and creates changes in the brain to compensate.

This compensation is what causes physiological l dependence, with the brain essentially treating the presence of the stimulant as “normal.” If the drug isn’t present, the brain can’t perform optimally and withdrawal symptoms emerge. 

It takes time for someone with an Adderall dependence to adjust to the absence of the drug before their brain and body can begin to function properly without it. This is why professional detox and addiction treatment programs are so essential to long-term recovery.

Factors That Affect Adderall Withdrawal

Although Adderall withdrawal is characterized by a specific set of symptoms and predictable timeline, withdrawal experiences and severity can vary greatly depending on many factors, such as:

  • Individual physiology
  • Adderall dose used and for how long
  • Severity of dependence and/or addiction
  • Method of misuse (e.g. crushing and snorting)
  • The use of other drugs or alcohol
  • Previous withdrawal experiences

How rapidly you stop taking Adderall can also affect withdrawal. Doctors can 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 dose to nothing.

Treatment Options for Adderall Withdrawal

These are some treatment options to help you manage Adderall withdrawal:

A Tapered Detox

Tapering doses of Adderall rather than taking a cold-turkey approach to quitting use can reduce withdrawal symptoms and help you adjust to its absence over time. 

This is 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 Detox 

Inpatient medical detox is what many people imagine when they think of “detoxing.” This is when you stay at an addiction treatment facility or hospital and receive 24/7 care and supervision, 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.

Once you complete inpatient or medical detox for Adderall, and have achieved medical stabilization, the treatment team can help you transition into a longer-term treatment program where you can do the work to start addressing your underlying Adderall abuse and addiction.

Adderall Withdrawal FAQs

Does your brain return to “normal” after stopping Adderall?

Yes, however it may take some time due to the neuroadaptations that occur from dependence. Once you quit Adderall, it may a while for your brain chemistry to correct itself without the presence of this stimulant. This is why, if you struggled with an addiction, it’s so important to attend a drug rehab program and receive ongoing support and relapse prevention.

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 or by entering a medical detox program.

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 severe fatigue.

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Medically Reviewed By Dr. Alison Tarlow

Dr. Alison Tarlow is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the States of Florida and Pennsylvania, and a Certified Addictions Professional (CAP). She has been a practicing psychologist for over 15 years. Sh... Read More

Updated September 27, 2023
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