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Home Blog Withdrawing From Adderall: What To Expect From the Process and Symptoms

Withdrawing From Adderall: What To Expect From the Process and Symptoms

Withdrawing From Adderall: What to Expect header

I’ll just use it once more to get through this next study session. 

It can’t hurt to just take it once more since I really need to be awake and focused during this meeting; my coffee isn’t cutting it.

Adderall® use is especially common in academic circles. Students often turn to the drug as a way of coping with academic pressures and keeping up with their homework and projects. Compared to some other kinds of substances, Adderall is relatively easy for many students to access, borrowing from a friend or family member’s prescription. Since the drug is widely prescribed to individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it’s easily accessible for many, even to those who don’t have a prescription.

Usually, those who start using Adderall illicitly do not set out with poor intentions. Many users are just looking for a way to help boost their energy and concentration to help them work more efficiently and stay focused on the task at hand.

However, with frequent, prolonged use, Adderall, like many other substances, can be addictive. Those who rely on Adderall to get through work or to focus on working can find themselves feeling sluggish when working without the drug.

Adderall abuse and dependency do occur, and there is treatment available to help those who realize they have become too dependent on the drug to complete even trivial tasks. Similar to the experience with other kinds of substances, when you attempt to quit using the drug after relying on it for so long, you can experience a whole variety of withdrawal symptoms.

Continue reading to gain a greater understanding of what Adderall is, how it is used, symptoms of withdrawal, and treatment options for you at Serenity Lane’s rehab facility.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a brand name for a prescription that is most well-known for treating ADHD and narcolepsy. Taking the drug can help the user increase their concentration and focus capabilities, assisting them in getting work done or staying on task.

Individuals with ADHD can struggle with following through on projects or focusing their attention on one thing for a period of time. Adderall can help stimulate their focus and enable them to engage and complete tasks more effectively.

Similarly, individuals with narcolepsy often feel overwhelmingly drowsy during the day. People with narcolepsy have difficulty controlling proper sleep-wake cycles, and Adderall is one effective treatment for this condition. By reducing the amount of drowsiness felt during the day, those with narcolepsy can get through their day better and are less affected by sudden attacks of sleep.

The drug itself is a combination of several chemicals; the blend includes chemicals such as amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These chemicals fall under the category of central nervous system stimulants. In fact, Adderall itself is known to be a stimulant drug. As the name might suggest, a stimulant is something that stimulates the body’s systems.

In the case of Adderall, the effects cause heightened alertness and stimulate the user’s ability to concentrate, focus, and experience a higher level of energy. Stimulants sometimes can be a word with many negative connotations. The word “stimulant” tends to make people think of addiction, dependency, and illicit, damaging drug use.

While it is true that some stimulants are illicit and can cause the user harm with prolonged use, it is important to keep in mind that stimulants are just a classification of drugs. It’s an easy way to separate drugs and identify them based upon their characteristics and the reactions they create in a user.

When used properly and under medical supervision, a stimulant like Adderall can help many people. Plenty of people with ADHD or narcolepsy have benefited greatly from this prescription and are able to lead a better quality of life.

In order to reduce fear of something, it is always best to learn more about that subject. In this case, stimulants: what are they exactly?

What Are Stimulants (and Are They All Really Bad for Your Health)?

Stimulants, as mentioned previously, speed up the body’s systems and responses. That is why stimulants can cause heightened awareness and also result in physical symptoms such as an increased heart rate. Some people will turn to recreational stimulant use in search of a way to increase energy or feel something more by achieving a high.

Both prescription drugs and illicit drugs can be classified as stimulants. Some prescription stimulants include amphetamines, such as Adderall, and some diet aids. On the other side, illicitly produced stimulants include substances such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

Many people are wary about stimulants, even prescription stimulants, because they fear the stigma or the connotation of addiction and illicit use. However, plenty of people use prescription stimulants like Adderall responsibly.

In general, it is a good rule of thumb to avoid taking any kind of medication or substance that is not needed for health purposes. Prolonged recreational use of stimulants can potentially lead users to a path of addiction and dependency, although it is true that not everybody who takes a stimulant drug will automatically end up addicted.

Consulting with a doctor about a potential need for a stimulant drug like Adderall can ensure a patient’s health and safety. In addition, addiction treatment programs are available to help those who find themselves struggling to stop their illicit use of the drug.

What Are the Symptoms of Adderall Dependency?

Nobody sets out using Adderall intending to become addicted or dependent, but individuals who frequently turn to unprescribed doses of Adderall can find themselves at a higher risk of becoming addicted.

Understanding the chemical interactions in the body of a user can help paint a clearer picture of why dependency happens and what it consists of.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

As a stimulant, Adderall affects the body’s central nervous system by speeding things up. Adderall increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters in the body. The primary function of these neurotransmitters is to ensure the body can react properly when faced with certain stimuli or situations. In addition, dopamine and norepinephrine are chemical messengers, relaying information between cells.

Norepinephrine is responsible for the speed at which the brain can detect and appropriately respond to external stimuli. This neurotransmitter is one of the key factors in explaining why Adderall can stimulate higher levels of alertness, productivity, and efficiency.

Additionally, Adderall boosts the body’s levels of dopamine. Dopamine levels are in charge of managing how the body perceives pleasure and rewards. Higher levels of dopamine can make a person feel good. Therefore, when someone experiences a pleasant sensation due to the dopamine boost, they take the substance more often in search of that rewarding feeling. This continuous cycle of chasing a particular feeling is what can lead many people to feel trapped in a cycle of Adderall dependence.

Symptoms of Adderall Addiction

Adderall dependence is marked by an increasing reliance on the next dose of Adderall to improve mood, get work done, or bolster focus. Without that next dose, individuals with a dependence can experience a kind of crashing sensation.

Dependent individuals can feel more depressed and gloomy. Those with more severe cases of dependency can even experience suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm.

Without a follow-up dose, users can feel sluggish. Even forming basic plans or trying to communicate ideas with others can be difficult. The ability to work or finish a project seems impossible without a dose of Adderall.

In order to address cases of Adderall dependence, it is necessary to identify common symptoms.

Common symptoms of Adderall dependence can include

  • Continuously taking larger doses of the drug to achieve the same feelings
  • Attempting to cut back or stop taking Adderall without much success
  • Finding it difficult to start or complete work and other tasks without Adderall
  • Feeling low on energy or very tired before taking Adderall
  • Devoting more time to taking and acquiring Adderall by cutting out interests, hobbies, relationships, and other responsibilities
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or lower the dose
  • Continuing to use Adderall even though its negative consequences are evident
  • Allocating more time towards stocking up on the drug or using it

Addiction to Adderall and other substances can happen unexpectedly and take users by surprise. After all, students looking for that extra energy and motivation during finals week don’t start using Adderall expecting it to develop into an addiction. For many people, Adderall is just a helpful and convenient resource.

Unfortunately, with continuous use, a user can build up tolerance and develop an increasing reliance on the drug. While the initial intentions of using Adderall often begin innocently, the need to continue taking the drug can grow. Some individuals may even need to fake or exaggerate ADHD or narcolepsy symptoms in order to get a hold of the drug.

Experiencing Adderall Withdrawal

Users who have developed a dependence on Adderall will find that they experience unpleasant feelings and symptoms upon trying to quit or cut back on the dose. These unpleasant symptoms are known as withdrawal symptoms. They only occur when an individual stops taking the drug.

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms is a telltale sign that a user is suffering from an Adderall addiction. When Adderall is taken frequently at a high dose, a user’s brain adjusts to the increased levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Without that dose, the brain attempts to quickly adjust to the sudden loss of the artificially high levels of these neurotransmitters.

The body’s quick response to the absence of Adderall causes users to experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are common with other substances. The human body’s extraordinary adaptability allows rapid adjustments to occur; unfortunately, those rapid adjustments can also cause unpleasant physical and mental symptoms and leave the user feeling ill or depressed.

Identifying common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal is also important in determining if an individual suffers from an Adderall addiction.

Symptoms of Withdrawal

Do these symptoms sound familiar?

  • Feelings of depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Frequent mood changes
  • Increased irritability or agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Often feeling fatigued or slow
  • Nightmares
  • Increased appetite
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
  • Stomach pains/vomiting
  • Physical aches
  • Anxiety
  • Oversleeping

Adderall Withdrawal Duration and Where To Get Detox Treatment

Withdrawal symptoms can show up a day or two after a dependent user stops taking Adderall. The duration of withdrawal symptoms and the severity of these symptoms will vary on a case-by-case basis. Each individual reacts differently to withdrawal. In addition, there are many factors that can affect an individual’s withdrawal experience and duration.

The longer someone has relied on Adderall, the more likely it is that they will experience withdrawal symptoms for several days or a week. When a body has been exposed to Adderall for a long time and become reliant on it, it will take longer for the body to readjust itself. 

This can be thought of as trying to break a long-term habit such as smoking. Someone who has smoked daily for 20 years is going to feel cravings and nicotine withdrawal more intensely than someone who has smoked for a couple of months.

Similarly, those who have not had an Adderall addiction for a very long time or do not have as severe an addiction as others, may experience a less intense withdrawal with symptoms that only last for a day or two. 

Other factors that can affect withdrawal include family history, genetics, and a user’s mental health history and emotional state.

Comparing Withdrawal Between Instant Adderall and Adderall XR

The Adderall prescription is available in two different forms. The drug is available as immediate-release (IR) tablets and two different extended-release (XR) formulations.

The regular form of Adderall is an instant-release drug that typically lasts for up to six hours. Meanwhile, the Adderall XR (extended release) is intended for around-the-clock use. The duration of withdrawal varies for these two forms.

Regular Adderall goes into effect right away, which means that its effects will also fade within several hours. The sooner a drug goes into effect, the sooner it will run its course and leave the body. Alternatively, Adderall XR will build up in the body and stay within the body’s system for a longer period of time before being dispelled.

At Serenity Lane, we understand that addiction isn’t something people plan for. Especially with a drug like Adderall, the “study drug,” people who may be relying on that next dose might be surprised to find themselves addicted. We’ve been helping people in the Oregon community overcome their issues with addiction since 1973. Our compassionate, licensed substance use counselors are waiting for your call. Contact us today at 800-543-9905.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to your body when you stop taking Adderall?

When you stop taking Adderall, you might experience withdrawal symptoms. Adderall is a drug that boosts the levels of certain neurotransmitters in your body. The two primary neurotransmitters that are affected are dopamine and norepinephrine.

Those who take frequent, high unprescribed doses of Adderall can find themselves experiencing sensations of pleasure due to increased dopamine levels. Dopamine, especially, helps regulate the body’s natural reward system and understanding of pleasure. When someone feels very good after taking Adderall, they might crave more of that feeling and continue illicitly using the drug to experience it again.

How long does it take to feel normal after quitting Adderall?

Many people feel a crash, the opposite of a high, after quitting Adderall. While Adderall withdrawal is not necessarily as physically risky as quitting other kinds of substances, the mental consequences can still be grave.

Feelings of depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety are increased during this time. Long time users may also feel extremely sluggish and slow to communicate properly or even form sentences the way they want to. Productivity without the drug might seem impossible.

Withdrawal symptoms can affect people differently, and the duration of these symptoms also varies depending on how long the addiction has existed and an individual’s mental health state.

It can take anywhere from a few days to several months to start feeling fewer withdrawal symptoms and feeling more stable.

How long does it take to get energy back after stopping Adderall?

A lack of energy is very common after quitting Adderall. Withdrawal symptoms can affect people differently, and the duration of these symptoms also varies depending on how long the addiction has existed and an individual’s mental health state.

General time frames suggest that it can take anywhere from a few days to several months to start feeling less withdrawal symptoms.

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