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What You Should Know About an Adderall Withdrawal

While the opioid crisis may be making the majority of the headlines, there are other prescription medications that can also be harmful when abused. Adderall withdrawal is on the rise as well, as many people take the drug for reasons other than for which it is prescribed. Here's what you need to know about this drug and how the body reacts to withdrawal from Adderall. 

Adderall Basics 

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a commonly diagnosed affliction in the United States that affects both children and adults. Those with the condition often have difficulty sitting still and paying attention to a single task. This can create major problems for children while they are in school, making it challenging for them to learn successfully. For adults, issues can arise at work when they have trouble meeting deadlines or taking on complex projects that require patience and focus. 

Adderall is a medication that doctors often prescribe to treat ADHD, though there are others on the market. Adderall is the brand name for amphetamine-dextroamphetamine. The drug contains norepinephrine, a strong stimulant that helps patients achieve better focus and concentration. While it may seem counterintuitive to give stimulants to a person who is hyperactive, it is actually quite effective. 

In addition to providing steady energy, Adderall also boosts the levels of dopamine in the person's brain. The norepinephrine in the drug plays a major role in the patient's ability to focus and concentrate. The dopamine, on the other hand, activates the brain's reward center, eliciting a positive response that makes it more likely that the patient will continue taking the drug for its mood-boosting properties. While there are many benefits for patients when they take Adderall correctly as directed by their doctors, there are also those who misuse their medication. 

Not only that, but many also take the drug recreationally. In those who do not have ADHD, the drug provides a surge of energy, thanks to the stimulants it contains. It also brings on somewhat of a euphoric feeling. Because Adderall is typically a slow-release medication, the effects can last for many hours, even a full day. It is especially popular among young adults, often those in high school or college. Some students choose to take Adderall to help them focus while they study and to get the energy they need to pull all-nighters to work on major assignments. 

While taking the medication recreationally on occasion may not be as harmful as some other drugs, Adderall does have a high potential for abuse. Whether taken for medical or recreational purposes, this drug affects your brain chemistry. As with just about any other drug that alters your brain, there are side effects as the drug leaves your system. Quitting Adderall cold-turkey can bring on symptoms of Adderall withdrawal. 


Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms and Duration 

When you stop taking Adderall, dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain instantly start to drop. Your brain and body will then have to adjust to this abrupt change. When you take the medication as directed and then stop taking it, withdrawal symptoms tend to be relatively mild. However, if you were taking more than the prescribed dosage, taking the medicine for a long period of time, or abusing it, you will likely experience symptoms that are much more severe. 

Some of the most common Adderall withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Depression or other changes in mood 
  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Fatigue 
  • Stomach cramping and distress 
  • Nausea with or without vomiting 

Many people report that the symptoms are similar to feeling hungover after a night of drinking too much alcohol. Some people even say that they feel a bit like they are drunk. As with other types of withdrawal, symptoms are typically worse for those who have been taking the drug heavily over a long period of time, while those who only use it sporadically aren't likely to face intense symptoms. 

Adderall withdrawal symptoms typically start to present themselves within the first few days after you stop taking the drug. While the duration of these symptoms varies from person to person, they generally last a few days to a few weeks. The amount of time you'll have to suffer through withdrawal from Adderall will depend on a number of factors, including: 

  • Whether you were taking the drug for medical or recreational purposes 
  • The size of your typical dose 
  • How frequently you took the medication 
  • How long you had been taking the drug regularly 
  • Your body's chemistry and healing response 

The longer you have taken Adderall and the higher the dose, the harder it can be to go off the medication. This is because your brain and body get used to the higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. When that balance is altered, your brain craves another dose to get you back to feeling "normal." This is how addiction starts, as your body and brain begin to crave the medication and feel as though they can't function properly without it. 

In addition to how much Adderall you take and how often you take it, your genes can also affect your reaction to the drug over time. Some people are genetically predisposed to addiction and often have long histories of the disease in their families, whether to alcohol, drugs or certain behaviors. Your overall mental health can play a role as well, for example, if you suffer from depression, anxiety or another mental health disorder, you may react to the drug differently than someone who doesn't typically deal with mental health issues. 

Managing Adderall Withdrawal 

At this time, there is not yet a specific treatment to help patients cope with Adderall withdrawal. However, that doesn't mean there aren't steps you can take to assuage your symptoms. For starters, it is far better to try to lower your dosage over time to wean yourself off the medication rather than trying to quit cold-turkey. This way, your brain and body will have time to adapt to the change in dopamine levels. The more gradually you can taper your dosage, the easier it will be for your body and brain to adjust. 

If you were taking Adderall as prescribed by your doctor, they can provide you with a wealth of information and advice to help you stop taking the drug. When you decide that you are ready to quit, it is always a good idea to consult with your doctor. This way, they can monitor your symptoms throughout the process and adjust your dosage as needed to help you wean yourself off of it safely and comfortably. 

Even if you were taking the drug recreationally, you should still see your doctor about quitting. Although your doctor may not have prescribed the medication for you, they can still help you develop a strategy for getting off the drug. Under a doctor's care, you'll also have much greater control over the dosage as your doctor can prescribe an amount that will help you wean off the drug as safely as possible. 

Because the symptoms of Adderall are usually not life-threatening, it is possible to kick your Adderall habit on your own. For example, you could try switching to half of your regular dosage. While you may not get the same euphoric feeling you are used to, you may find that you don't have any negative withdrawal symptoms either. After a short while at this new dosage level, you can cut it in half again for an even lower dosage. 

Depending on your initial dosage, you may be able to stop taking Adderall after this. If your body and brain aren't yet ready to give up the drug entirely, you might switch to taking it every other day instead of every day, gradually spreading out your doses until withdrawal symptoms fade. Then, you'll be ready to stop taking Adderall altogether. 

While Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be quite uncomfortable, they typically do not pose a health risk. This makes it entirely possible to manage your withdrawal symptoms from the comfort of your own home without medical intervention. While it can be challenging, you can get through the withdrawal on your own so that you can quit Adderall. 

However, because depression is a common symptom of Adderall withdrawal, it is important to keep a close watch on your mental health status as you reduce your dosage or stop taking the drug. If you find yourself feeling severely depressed or having thoughts of suicide while quitting Adderall, seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can refer you to a counseling program or prescribe antidepressant medication to help you get back on track. 


Help with Adderall Addiction 

It is important to note that Adderall can be highly addictive. Many people struggle to get off the drug because they are not mentally or emotionally equipped to weather the withdrawal symptoms. When they are not feeling well due to withdrawal, they may instinctively reach for another dose to mitigate the symptoms. It requires a lot of willpower to battle addiction on your own, so if you are struggling, know that you are not alone. 

In addition to seeing your doctor for assistance, you also have many other options available to you. For starters, your area likely has a variety of support groups, like 12-step programs, to help those struggling with addiction and recovery. Depending on the size of your hometown, you may find groups specifically dedicated to Adderall addiction, or the groups may be more general, applying to a variety of addictive substances and behaviors. 

These programs can be remarkably helpful, as seeing others in similar situations can help you see your own behavior patterns in a new light. Knowing that there are others out there sharing your experience can help give you the willpower and motivation you need to beat your addiction for good. Having someone to talk to on your worst days can make the struggle feel just a bit easier. 

You also have the option of attending outpatient or inpatient treatment programs, often called rehabilitation or simply rehab. In an outpatient program, you'll typically visit the treatment center for counseling sessions. You'll likely have a mix of private and group sessions throughout the process. In general, you'll visit the rehab center more frequently at the beginning of your treatment program. As you progress, your visits will typically spread out gradually until you have completed the program. 

With an inpatient program, you'll live at the treatment facility for the duration of the program. You may have a private room, or you might share with one or more others. This often depends on the size of the facility and how much you can afford to pay for treatment. Inpatient programs are much more intensive than outpatient programs. You'll still have frequent counseling sessions, but your treatment will also focus on changing your daily patterns of thought and behavior. 

The goal of inpatient programs is to prepare you to get back to your regular life in the real world. Outside of the treatment center, you'll likely be faced with many of the same triggers that led you to abuse Adderall in the first place, and inpatient treatment will help you learn the techniques you'll need to stay clean going forward. 

Get Started with Adderall Addiction Treatment 

Here at Clean & Sober Recovery Services, we are proud to offer both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs for those struggling with addiction to Adderall and a variety of other substances. Our facility is located in beautiful Sacramento, CA, though we treat patients from all across the country in our programs. 

If you are struggling with symptoms of Adderall withdrawal and need assistance getting off the drug, our dedicated counselors and treatment experts will be more than happy to help. We welcome you to get in touch with us at any time to learn more about our Adderall treatment programs. We want to ensure you have all the information you need to make an educated decision about whether our program is right for you. 

Reach out to us today for a free consultation to discuss your needs in greater detail. We'll be happy to help you decide whether inpatient or outpatient treatment is best for your needs. Call now to get started. 

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