SWISS MEDICAL EXPERTISE: ZURICH, MALLORCA, LONDON, NEW YORK

5 Minutes

Edited & medically reviewed by THE BALANCE Team
Fact checked

Adderall dependence is pretty common and it is even seen in people who use the medicine for therapeutic purposes over a prolonged period apart from those who use the drug to get high and those who use the drug as a study aid to meet deadlines and to study smarter.  When people want to quit Adderall they experience withdrawal symptoms which makes it difficult for them to stop taking Adderall.

People also experience an Adderall crash which is a minor withdrawal episode that begins certain hours after the last dose of Adderall and its effects last for two days. During the phase of the Adderall crash, a person gets physically and mentally tired and has a depressed mood. This is because Adderall is a stimulant and causes alertness, an increase in concentration, and causes the body to be active. This effect of Adderall is due to the ability of Adderall to increase the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine which is a key hormone involved in the brain’s reward center. So when an individual stops taking Adderall the dopamine levels in the brain reduce thereby causing depression, tiredness, anxiety, and physical exhaustion among other symptoms. 

If you are taking Adderall following a doctor’s prescription then you need to consult your doctor, who will taper your dose gradually. It is not advised to go cold turkey when you want to stop taking Adderall since it aggravates the withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal to Adderall manifests differently in different individuals. This is because factors that govern these changes vary from person to person such as the duration of Adderall use and presence of substance use disorder such as addiction to Adderall. Withdrawal episodes are due to the disruption in the neurotransmitters in the brain which include norepinephrine and dopamine. Low levels of these neurotransmitters after stopping the drug present a myriad of symptoms. 

Following symptoms are associated with Adderall withdrawal:

  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Feeling of emptiness
  • Feeling depressed
  • Extreme irritability 
  • Frustration
  • Sense of worthlessness
  • Change in appetite
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Clouding of brain
  • Unusual pain and aches
  • Suicidal ideations 
  • Loss of interest in activities that earlier used to excite the individual
  • Talking slowly
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Lethargy and tiredness 

The earliest sign of Adderall withdrawal can present within few hours after the last dose. 3 to 36 hours after a person has taken Adderall, he may experience withdrawal episodes marked by depression and fatigue. From day 3 to day 5 after the last dose, a person may experience fatigue, irritability, and depression. This is the duration in which the withdrawal episodes are at the highest. 

A week after the last dose, the symptoms of withdrawal dampen. However, people still have mood swings, and low energy and they find it difficult to do normal routine tasks. Some people also experience mild depression and slight psychological symptoms.

Adderall Overdose Side Effects

People who have developed increased tolerance to the drug or are using Adderall for more than a year may experience withdrawal episodes even a month after their last dose. People become more sensitive and get irritated on minor things that did not use to bother them previously. Apart from psychological issues people often face social and emotional problems after withdrawing from Adderall.

There are different strategies that can help you cope with your withdrawal episodes by minimizing the withdrawal symptoms and reducing your discomfort as you discontinue Adderall. You should taper your dose gradually to mitigate the risk of withdrawal episodes before stopping completely. Since withdrawal is likely after you stop taking Adderall you can go to a doctor instead of managing your symptoms at home since Adderall withdrawal is not as dangerous as withdrawal associated with other drugs but it is unpredictable and can lead to suicidal thoughts which can prove to be life-threatening. 

Your doctor will help you in getting through your withdrawal phase and may advise you on the following medications:

  • Over-the-counter analgesics: To treat body aches and headaches that are frequent with Adderall withdrawal, you can take over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, ibuprofen to alleviate the pain.
  • Sleeping pills: People often face insomnia after discontinuing Adderall so they can take sleeping aid like Benadryl to help get a good night’s sleep.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: If you are experiencing irritation, aggression, and anxiety your doctor might prescribe you anti-anxiety medicine for a short duration to provide relief during the first week of withdrawal. Your doctor may prescribe you a long-acting benzodiazepine such as Clonazepam. These drugs should not be used for the long term. 
  • Antidepressants: Depression is one of the most dominant symptoms of withdrawal episodes, Depression can also lead to suicidal ideations, and hence it is better to take antidepressants to mitigate the risk of suicide associated with these withdrawal episodes. 

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