Key Points:

  • Adderall is a prescription stimulant with the active ingredient amphetamine
  • When someone is addicted to Adderall, they experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking it
  • Stopping Adderall abruptly can be dangerous, even if taken as prescribed
  • Adderall withdrawal can be uncomfortable, with symptoms like exhaustion, mood swings and intense cravings
  • Addiction treatment facilities can help ease someone through Adderall withdrawal safely

What is Adderall Withdrawal?

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 often experience symptoms of irritability, fatigue, and cravings that may be present for several hours. This “crash” is not the same as withdrawal, although the symptoms overlap. Withdrawal is characterized by persistent symptoms that develop over the course of a few days and that may last for up to 10 days.

Withdrawal symptom severity is generally related to dependence/addiction severity, but withdrawal progression can often be broken down into two stages. The first couple of days are characterized by exhaustion, fatigue, and depression. The following stage features subsequent symptoms include mood swings, increased appetite, poor concentration, and insomnia.

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

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 may include headaches, aches and pains, increased appetite, not sleeping well
  • 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.

A general withdrawal timeline may look like:

  • Days 1 and 2

    Cravings are powerful at this time. Mood swings, hallucinations and paranoia may be present since Adderall will still be in the body. People may still have trouble sleeping.

  • Days 3 through 7

    Dopamine levels are low, causing exhaustion and symptoms of depression. While not sleeping, a person may be hungry and irritable. Dreams can be vivid and uncomfortable.

  • Week 2 and 3

    Cravings are still there but not as strong. Sleep begins to normalize, but the person’s mood is still impaired. Symptoms of depression and anxiety may worsen, fueling cravings to return to drug use.

  • Week 4 and on

    Most detox and withdrawal symptoms have lessened or subsided at this point. Cravings, dysphoria (depressed mood), trouble sleeping and irritability are still present but much lower than the previous weeks. Managing cravings at this stage is a critical factor in preventing relapse.

What Causes Adderall Withdrawal?

The term “withdrawal” encapsulates a set of symptoms that happen when someone is addicted to a substance and stops using that substance. Abusing a substance changes the chemistry of brain cells over time.

For example, when someone abuses Adderall, they increase their dopamine levels in the brain — higher than would ever occur naturally. To compensate, brain cells break down dopamine more aggressively to balance out the increased amount. When the increased amount suddenly stops (i.e., someone stops taking Adderall), brain cells continue breaking down dopamine faster than normal, but there is no extra dopamine to counter this occurrence.

The results is that dopamine levels are then much lower than they should be, producing withdrawal symptoms as the body struggles without the drug.

  • Factors Impacting Adderall Withdrawal

    The most impactful factor in determining the Adderall withdrawal timeline is the degree of dependence. However, there are factors that contribute to the timeline, including extrinsic factors like Adderall dosage, the presence of other substances and even the presence of emotional support systems. Additionally, intrinsic factors like age, metabolism, and genetics also influence the withdrawal timeline.

  • Risks of Abruptly Quitting Adderall

    When someone is taking Adderall as prescribed, they may be able to safely stop without issue, but they must speak with their doctor first.

    People taking high daily doses may require a slow taper 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.

    How to Taper Off Adderall

    Attempting to abruptly stop Adderall can be dangerous. Those with a valid prescription should speak with their doctor about stopping Adderall.

    Those who abuse Adderall, by taking more than prescribed or taking it without a prescription, should speak with their doctor or an addiction specialist about stopping it safely.

How To Cope With Adderall Withdrawal

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

The most extreme cases of Adderall use disorders may benefit from a supervised period that will allow your body to detox from the drug. Medical detox is a rehab program that provides 24/7 supervision and, if appropriate, medications may be provided to mitigate symptom severity.

How Can a Doctor Diagnose Adderall Withdrawal?

Adderall and other stimulants cause a recognizable set of withdrawal symptoms. Signs of Adderall withdrawal would be placed into the bigger picture of the person’s history and current health.

A physician would take a patient history by asking a series of questions, including some about drug and alcohol abuse. The diagnosis can only be as accurate as the information, so an accurate patient history is critical to make the right diagnosis and start the correct treatment.

Adderall Detox Treatment for Withdrawal

Detox from stimulants like Adderall can be physically and emotionally draining. Expect 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 to a successful detox.

Most people who stop abusing Adderall may experience no permanent symptoms.

Detoxing from Adderall involves a lot of sleep. Therefore someone detoxing at home may not be able to meet basic needs like healthy meals and hydration.

Certain people may be at risk of harm during a self-detox, like those with a seizure disorder or an abnormal heart rhythm.

Anyone attempting to detox should only do so after speaking with their doctor, or an addiction professional.

Relapse is a major risk when someone tries to self-detox. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable, so the temptation to take more Adderall to ease these symptoms is high.

If someone detoxes in a hospital or inpatient addiction facility, a medical team will be available to support them. People withdrawing are monitored for life-threatening symptoms and provided with an environment that helps manage detox.

Adderall withdrawal is generally not life-threatening. There are no medications approved by the FDA for stimulant withdrawal and very few to treat withdrawal symptoms for such drugs. The cornerstone of withdrawal treatment, in this case, is monitoring and providing adequate nutrition and rest.

Outpatient withdrawal is medically supervised by an addiction professional but can occur at home. Treatment is ideal for people motivated to quit Adderall who are not at risk of harmful withdrawal symptoms (e.g., someone with abnormal heart rhythm). Not all rehab facilities offer this sort of treatment.

Finding a Detox Center

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 overcome prescription stimulant use disorders and achieve long-term recovery.

Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to speak with a representative about how professional treatment can address your substance use disorder. You deserve a healthier future, call today.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.