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Adderall Withdrawal and Detox: Symptoms, Timeline and Treatment

Written by Jonathan Strum

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Last Updated - 8/8/2022

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Updated 08/08/2022

Stopping Adderall cold turkey may increase your risk of problematic withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, medical detox programs can help you quit Adderall safely.

Adderall, the brand name for amphetamine and dextroamphetamine salts, is a Schedule II controlled substance. If you take Adderall and are considering stopping the drug, you may be concerned about the possibility of withdrawal symptoms. Although the experience of stopping Adderall can vary from person to person, it can be helpful to know what to expect when going through the withdrawal process.

Is It Okay To Stop Taking Adderall?

Your doctor can help answer the question of whether stopping Adderall is a good decision. People usually take Adderall or its long-acting counterpart, Adderall XR, to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Your doctor will be in the best position to tell you if you will be able to safely manage your ADHD symptoms without the help of Adderall.

Some people take Adderall that has not been prescribed to them, sometimes in an attempt to increase their focus or concentration. However, it is never a good idea to take medications that are not prescribed for you, especially those that carry a risk of addiction like Adderall. Using prescription medications that are not prescribed to you is also risky because it means a doctor is not monitoring your drug use.

Stopping the use of illicitly obtained Adderall can reduce your risk of addiction, abuse and dependence. In addition, quitting illicit Adderall can protect you legally, as it is against federal and state laws to use someone else’s controlled substance.

Benefits of Quitting Adderall

When you take Adderall as prescribed for ADHD, it can be a life-changing medication that improves your mental health and cognition. If you use Adderall for a legitimate medical reason and are monitored by a doctor, Adderall is safe to take over the long term. In some cases, however, your doctor may advise you to stop taking the drug. For example, if your symptoms have been controlled for an extended period of time, you may no longer need the medication to function.

Stopping Adderall can have several benefits, including:

  • Avoiding side effects
  • Avoiding monthly doctor’s appointments to get a new prescription
  • Reducing the number of pills you have to take on a daily basis
  • Not having to remember to take your pills every day

In addition, because Adderall is a Schedule II controlled substance, stopping the drug reduces your risk of developing a problem with Adderall abuse, addiction and dependence.

What Happens When You Stop Taking Adderall?

When you take a psychoactive drug for a long period of time, your brain begins to rely on its presence to function normally. If you suddenly stop the medication, the brain’s chemical imbalance can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Specifically, when you stop a stimulant like Adderall, the brain will have less dopamine and norepinephrine than it has come to rely on. Withdrawal is characterized by persistent symptoms that develop within 24 hours and can last up to five days.

Adderall withdrawal is a consequence of dependence, but it is important to distinguish between an Adderall crash and Adderall withdrawal. When Adderall wears off, people may experience symptoms of irritability, fatigue and cravings that can last for several hours. This “crash” is not the same as withdrawal, although the symptoms can overlap.

Stopping Adderall Cold Turkey

It is always important to speak with your doctor before making the decision to quit Adderall. If you stop taking Adderall abruptly, you run the risk of problematic consequences. In some cases, however, someone who takes Adderall as prescribed may be able to safely stop without issue. For example, a person may be able to safely stop the drug abruptly if they take a low dose or do not take it every day.

Conversely, people taking high daily doses may require a gradual dose reduction to stop taking the medication safely. Those who abuse Adderall are at a very high risk of withdrawal symptoms if they quit Adderall cold turkey, especially if they take high doses of the drug.

Tapering off Adderall

Your doctor may recommend that you taper (slowly reduce) your Adderall dose over a period of days or weeks instead of stopping the medication cold turkey. This is particularly true if you take a high Adderall dose. However, there is little information about the best and safest ways to taper your Adderall dose. For this reason, it is vital to involve your doctor so they can monitor you closely as you wean yourself off the drug.

Adderall and Adderall XR Withdrawal

Adderall is available in two similar but distinct products: short-acting Adderall and long-acting Adderall XR. Short-acting Adderall peaks in the body after about three hours, while long-acting Adderall XR peaks after about seven hours.

Despite the differences in how long they last in the body, there is little data available on whether the withdrawal experience differs between the two drugs. It is possible that short-acting Adderall may carry a higher risk of withdrawal symptoms than its longer-acting counterpart. However, without studies to compare the two drugs, it is impossible to know for sure.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms can occur if someone abruptly stops Adderall, especially if they have been taking a high dose of the drug for a long period of time. Common Adderall withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Agitation or irritability
  • Cravings to take more of the drug
  • Feeling more tired than normal
  • Mood swings that happen quickly, sometimes multiple times per hour
  • Physical reactions that may include headaches, aches and pains, increased appetite and sleep problems
  • Seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucinations)
  • Trouble concentrating

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

The Adderall withdrawal timeline is different for everyone. The most important factors are a person’s genetics, their history of Adderall abuse and the extent of Adderall abuse. In other words, how much and how often they took Adderall are some of the most important factors that determine the length of withdrawal.

In general, however, withdrawal symptoms will start within 24 hours of the last dose of the drug and will last for around five days. An additional, prolonged withdrawal phase characterized by anxiety, fatigue and cravings can last up to an additional two months.

Can Adderall Withdrawal Cause Seizures?

Seizures are not an expected side effect of Adderall withdrawal. However, seizures can occur as a result of an overdose of stimulants like Adderall.

Can You Die From Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall withdrawal itself is not deadly. However, it can be dangerous in indirect ways. For example, a person experiencing mood swings and agitation due to Adderall withdrawal may pose a danger to themselves or others. They may put themselves into a harmful situation due to these withdrawal effects, even though Adderall withdrawal itself does not directly put them in danger.

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How To Cope With Adderall Withdrawal

Unfortunately, there are no Adderall withdrawal remedies that work as shortcuts for Adderall withdrawal. Mild withdrawal symptoms are often successfully managed with exercise, a healthy diet and good sleep routines. In cases of severe withdrawal, professional help may be warranted.

People with more extreme cases of Adderall addiction may benefit from a supervised period that helps them to safely detox from the drug. Medical detox is a rehab program that offers 24/7 supervision during withdrawal and can provide medications to help mitigate symptom severity.

Adderall Detox

Detox from stimulants like Adderall can be physically and emotionally draining. A person can expect to experience a depressed mood for several weeks after the detox process.

Eating healthy meals and returning to a normal sleep schedule are the two most critical components of a successful detox. Detoxing from Adderall involves a lot of sleep, but people detoxing at home may not be able to meet basic needs like healthy meals and hydration. In addition, certain people may be at risk of harm during a self-detox, such as those with serious mental health conditions. In these cases, the person may benefit from undergoing a medically supervised Adderall detox program.

If you are struggling to reduce or quit your Adderall use, it may be time to seek professional help. There are several rehab resources in South Florida, including The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health. Our comprehensive rehab programs use evidence-based techniques that are proven to help people recover from prescription stimulant use disorders and achieve long-term sobriety.

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World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed July 26, 2022.

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