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Adderall Withdrawal: Symptoms & Detox

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: August 28th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

If you’re looking for help with Adderall addiction or dependency, you’ve probably reached the point where you’re no longer getting positive results from using the drug. Adderall addiction can slowly take over the life of the addicted person as it becomes more and more difficult for them to function without it.

Adderall dependence or addiction is much more common than many people realize. The problem with the drug is that it’s easy to develop an addiction or dependence on it even if it’s taken as prescribed. Often when overcoming a struggle with Adderall, individuals may require an Adderall detox to manage their often withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Adderall Used For?

You may have been prescribed Adderall by a doctor because you have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a prevalent neurodevelopmental disorder that often lasts from childhood into adulthood. People with ADHD have difficulty doing things like paying attention or remaining focused on the task at hand, and Adderall helps them deal with those issues. Other people buy it off the street to help with things like losing weight or staying awake for long periods of time.

All of these symptoms end up making people with ADHD feel like they have no control over their lives. They’re often desperate to find anything that can help them function normally. This is where Adderall usually comes in.

What Is Adderall, and How Does It Work?

Adderall is the brand name for the drug amphetamine dextroamphetamine. Doctors usually prescribe it to help people deal with and control the symptoms of ADHD. The drug works by increasing the levels and activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Effects of Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine

These neurotransmitters, also referred to as chemical messengers, are molecules that, when activated, help manage symptoms of ADHD. Dopamine controls your body’s pleasure and reward centers, while norepinephrine is a stress hormone that controls the part of the brain that manages response and attention levels. Serotonin is the hormone that manages your mood and feelings of well-being in addition to things like digestion, eating, and sleeping. Adderall raises the levels of these neurotransmitters, helping you achieve increased levels of concentration, focus, and emotional centeredness.

When doctors prescribe Adderall for ADHD, they usually start it out at an initial dose of 5mg taken once or twice a day. The daily dose is usually increased by 5mg per day until each specific patient’s ideal level is reached. The maximum dosage usually doesn’t exceed 40mg per day.

ADHD Dosage

It’s usually taken with or without food, and the first dose is usually taken when you wake up. Doctors may increase or decrease the dose depending on how your body is reacting to it. While you’re in treatment, your doctor may decide to decrease the amount of Adderall you’re taking to see how your body responds to a reduced dosage. Some people can taper off of Adderall as they become more in control of their ADHD symptoms. Substance use disorder becomes an issue when people are unable to stop taking Adderall.

Many people love the high that Adderall gives them. They feel that they can conquer the world. It allows them to stay up all night long and work or study for school. Many of them feel incredibly powerful, and they don’t believe that they can function without it.

Adderall Addictions on the Rise

As more and more people are prescribed Adderall, more of them become addicted to it. A 2016 Johns Hopkins study published in “The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry” showed that Adderall abuse is rising among young adults. Emergency room visits associated with Adderall abuse were rising within this demographic even though there wasn’t an uptick in the number of prescriptions ordered. In 2018, the Substance and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) reported that 561,000 people 12 years and older were addicted to stimulants like Adderall.

How Do People Become Addicted to Adderall?

If you take Adderall for a long period of time, your body becomes used to it, leading to tolerance and dependency. You’ll then have to use more Adderall to get the same effects that you enjoyed when you initially started taking the drug. The line between misusing Adderall and becoming addicted to it is very thin. Most people don’t even realize that they can no longer resist the urge to take Adderall.

Over time, many people can no longer experience pleasure without the continued use of Adderall. The body has now become dependent on the stimulant to feel any focus and pleasure. If you try to decrease the amount of Adderall that you’re taking without help, you’ll start to feel withdrawal symptoms pretty quickly.

You may be dealing with Adderall addiction if you realize that you suddenly have an intense craving for the drug and feel like you can’t concentrate until you get your next dose. You continue to take it even though you end up spending money you don’t have. It’s affecting your ability to maintain healthy relationships with your loved ones or damages your work relationships. You’re willing to do anything to get the drug.

As they become more and more dependent on the drug, many users use it in different ways to get quicker and stronger responses. Like illicit users of the drug who obtain it illegally, many people crush the pills, after which they snort or inject the drug. This helps the Adderall get to the brain more quickly than it would have if they had ingested it orally. Once you’re at the level where you’re injecting or snorting Adderall, you’re at a much much higher risk for a potentially deadly overdose.

Why Is Adderall Detox So Difficult?

The withdrawal that comes about once a heavy user stops taking Adderall is extremely unpleasant, causing great psychological and physiological discomfort. No longer getting that dopamine rush they received from the drug, users report that symptoms usually show up within 24 hours after the last use. They may have increasing bouts of irritability, or they may feel extreme exhaustion and lethargy. They struggle with severe dysphoria, melancholy, sleeplessness, and an intense, almost crippling craving for the drug.

At that point, it becomes clear that the user now has a chemical, emotional, and physical dependence on the drug. An Adderall detox crash is like a super-intense mini-withdrawal and is usually experienced by people who binge on Adderall and then go without it. It comes a few hours after your last dose and can last for a few days or until you dose up again. Many people resume Adderall use because the withdrawal symptoms are so uncomfortable, intense, and unpleasant.

Timeline for Adderall Detox

Adderall withdrawal typically lasts anywhere from a few days to weeks or longer, depending on the severity of the addiction and whether the patient is getting treatment or not. Without the proper treatment, withdrawal can leave behind severe psychological issues and continued craving for the drug.

Dangers of Long-term Use of Adderall

Many serious dangers accompany long-term Adderall use. The drug is a stimulant, so prolonged use may cause an increased and irregular heartbeat, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure. Other heart-related side effects include increased risk of a heart attack, seizure, stroke, or even death in people with pre-existing heart issues.

Other side effects of long-term Adderall abuse include abdominal pain, weight loss, dizziness, difficulty breathing, constipation, tremors or constantly feeling jittery, inability to sleep, and hyperactivity.

How Can You Get Help for Adderall Addiction?

If you’re looking for help with Adderall addiction, whether it’s for yourself or your loved one, the first thing you need to realize is that you’ve already taken the most difficult step. You may be worried about the chances of success, but you should know that people overcome Adderall addiction every day.

How Do Adderall Detox Treatments Work?

There are several different ways that we can help with Adderall addiction recovery at Granite Recovery Centers. The treatment that will work best for you will depend on the nature of your addiction. We’ll need to assess to find the plan that best works for you. Our treatment options range from holistic therapies to 12-step-based programs to integrated programs.

Assessment and Intake

Before you begin actual treatment, you’ll have to go through the assessment process set up by the treatment center. During this process, the doctors and medical professionals will figure out how severe your addiction is. The team will also assess how outside factors, if any, may affect your ability to start the healing process effectively.

Adderall Detox

People detoxing from an Adderall addiction will need additional medical help to control the symptoms and help ensure that they don’t withdraw too quickly. It can be very uncomfortable and even dangerous to withdraw from the drug for users who’ve abused it for a long time. They may experience an Adderall crash that could have serious physical and mental repercussions.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we’ll work with you to develop exactly the type of detox plan you need so that you have the best chance of success. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Impatient or Outpatient Treatment

Trained specialists may refer you to an inpatient or outpatient treatment center depending on how severe your addiction is. Many people who are addicted to Adderall are self-medicating to get over issues like past trauma, depression, anxiety, or other unresolved issues. Withdrawal from the drug often brings up suicidal thoughts in some of these long-time users and in people who’ve never had a history of depression, so extra monitoring is often necessary to help ensure that they remain safe. By working with our inpatient or outpatient programs here at Granite Recovery Centers, people with a substance use disorder will finally be able to deal with the issues that brought them to Adderall in the first place.

Adderal detox options & support

Inpatient treatment is perfect for people who can get away for an extended period of time and focus on recovery. Outpatient treatment centers work for people who may be unable to take a full-time leave of absence from their lives. They’ll still be able to get the support that they need while fulfilling their regular daily obligations.

Alternative or Traditional Therapies

In addition to treating the medical and mental health issues relating to Adderall detox for addiction, we also introduce our patients to traditional and alternative therapies that may help them move forward. These therapies help people develop new, uplifting ways to handle everything from stress to past traumas so that they don’t resort to using drugs again in the future.

Alternative therapies could include holistic treatments, yoga, mindfulness, and other types of spiritually uplifting programs. Traditional therapies could include psychotherapy, group therapy, family therapy, and other therapies that have worked for years to help people feel fully supported as they go through addiction treatment.

Post-treatment Care for Adderall Detox

Our aftercare treatment is one of the most important parts of the detox and addiction recovery program at Granite Recovery Centers. Getting back out into the world without that Adderall crutch can feel very challenging. By continuing to work with us post-treatment, people can take the necessary steps that they need to take to move forward.

Adderall addiction is tough, and Adderall withdrawal can be hard. You’ve already made the first step towards care for yourself or your loved one. The rest is just making it all happen.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.