Adderall Withdrawal and Treatment
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is an amphetamine medication that is used to treat the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. It is classified as a Schedule II drug, similar to Dextroamphetamine, which means that it has accepted medical uses but should be closely monitored due to the potential it poses for misuse and dependence.2
While Adderall has legitimate medical use, taking it recreationally or taking too much can have serious consequences. Consider the following statistics:3
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), half of all amphetamine-related emergency room visits in 2010 involved nonmedical use of the drug.
- Almost a third of those visits involved adverse reactions to amphetamine medications.
- Roughly half of the amphetamine-related emergencies involved the use of an additional prescription medication, and nearly 1/5th involved the use of other substances, most commonly marijuana or alcohol.
These statistics underscore the high risk of misusing Adderall and the risk of misusing Adderall with other substances.
Signs of Adderall Misuse
It’s important to know what to look for if you suspect that someone you know is abusing Adderall with or without a prescription. Common signs and symptoms of Adderall misuse include:4,5,6,7
- Decreased need for sleep.
- Increased sociability.
- Increased energy and attentiveness.
- Noticeable changes in behavior, such as intense anger, hostility, or paranoia.
- Increased body temperature.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Psychomotor agitation (repetitive, purposeless movements).
- Changes in appetite/marked weight loss.
- Intranasal effects, such as nosebleeds or irritated nasal mucosa.
- Signs of injection use, such as track lines, puncture marks, abscesses, or cellulitis.
- “Doctor shopping,” or seeing multiple doctors to get several prescriptions.
Knowing the potential signs of abuse can prepare you to help someone who might have an Adderall problem. There are many detox and addiction treatment options available for someone who needs help quitting Adderall. Formal treatment programs provide patients with the structure, support, and care needed to help them withdraw comfortably and achieve long-term recovery.
Am I Addicted to Adderall?
There are a number of telltale behaviors associated with compulsive stimulant use. Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to identify some of these behaviors as well as other signs and symptoms to diagnose a stimulant use disorder. If you or a loved one recognize at least 2 of the following signs of stimulant use disorder, please consider speaking to someone who can help you find appropriate detox and treatment help:11
- You consume more Adderall than you intend to or more than is prescribed.
- You have failed in your attempts to quit using Adderall or focus on quitting often.
- You spend a lot of time using Adderall or trying to obtain it.
- You often neglect responsibilities at home, at work, or at school in favor of using Adderall.
- You notice that using Adderall worsens your health but continue using it.
- You use Adderall in situations that could be dangerous or even life-threatening — for instance while driving or working at a job where your attention is required to prevent injury.
- You give up activities that you once enjoyed in order to use Adderall.
- You notice that you are using more Adderall to get the desired effect or you notice that it does not have the same effect that it once had.
- You experience symptoms of withdrawal if you attempt to stop using Adderall.
What Are the Risks of Adderall Misuse?
Misusing Adderall is not without serious physical and mental health risks. The longer you misuse Adderall, the higher your risk is of experiencing detrimental consequences, which is why it’s so pertinent that you seek detox and treatment sooner rather than later. If you are hesitant about seeking treatment, consider the following long-term consequences of Adderall misuse:4,6,7,8
- Tolerance, resulting in a need for increased doses to achieve a high, increases the risk of adverse effects
- Dependence, resulting in withdrawal symptoms if you attempt to quit or significantly cut down on use
- If injected, increased risk of HIV, hepatitis, tetanus, tuberculosis, infection of the heart lining, and blockage of blood vessels due to insoluble fillers in the tablets
- Intranasal consequences, such as inflammation of the nasal mucosa and perforated nasal septum
- Persistently elevated blood pressure
- Cardiac rhythm changes
- Heart attack
- Erratic or dangerous behaviors due to paranoia
- Severe mood swings
Dangers of Continued Adderall Abuse
Adderall poses several risks of long-term misuse, including:8,9
- Cardiovascular complications.
- Abnormal dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission.
In addition, Adderall misuse may increase the likelihood of the following mental health issues:7,8,9
- Anxiety and panic.
- Anger and aggression.
These risks highlight the importance of finding help for an addiction to Adderall. It’s never too late to begin on the road to recovery.
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
AdIf you’ve become dependent on Adderall, you will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit. The length of detox and severity of symptoms of Adderall withdrawal will vary from person to person and may include:5,6,8
- Aches and pains.
- Vivid or unpleasant dreams and nightmares.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Increased appetite.
- Impaired social functioning.
- Nervousness, anxiety, or panic.
- Irritability or other mood disturbances.
- Dysphoria, or a general feeling of dissatisfaction.
How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Last?
The length of time it takes to fully detox from Adderall and other stimulants can range anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks.9 Individual Adderall withdrawal timelines and the severity of withdrawal symptoms depend on several factors including:9
- Average dose being regularly taken at the time of cessation. Detox can last longer for those who take higher or very frequent doses.
- Length of time taking Adderall. Those who have been on the medication for longer periods of time may experience more persistent and severe symptoms.
Many individuals with concurrent medical or mental health conditions or who are misusing substances in addition to Adderall begin recovery with the help of professional detox and substance use treatment facilities. Supervised detoxification facilities will have clinicians on hand who will closely monitor you through withdrawal to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible.10
Detox programs will often comprise the initial period of a more robust, longer-term rehabilitation program or will otherwise help you transition into one after successful navigation of the withdrawal period. Once detoxification has been successfully completed and a comprehensive treatment regimen commences, you can expect to participate in various group, individual, and family counseling sessions;10 some treatment facilities also offer classes such as art or yoga therapy as well.
It is important to note that it is most common to relapse within the first 4 weeks after quitting; therefore, it is important to consider home and environmental supports that can enhance you or your loved one’s chances of a successful detox and recovery from Adderall.
Adderall Detox Programs
If you believe you would benefit from treatment for Adderall dependence or addiction there are several options available.
Outpatient detox: This type of care might entail a gradual tapering of prescribed Adderall with close physician supervision of your withdrawal process via regular outpatient check-ins. After you’ve successfully detoxed, you will generally be advised to continue with some form of substance rehabilitation in which you can continue the process of recovering from Adderall addiction.
Ask your doctor if this option might be appropriate for you.
Inpatient detox: Inpatient detox may be the preferred option for many people who are suffering with relatively more severe Adderall addictions and addiction-related concerns. It can provide an appropriately immersive level of treatment for those who have been misusing high doses of Adderall, who use Adderall with other substances like alcohol, or who have co-occurring mental or physical health conditions—all of which can significantly complicate the withdrawal syndrome.
Detox facilities will help you through the acute withdrawal symptoms that will occur the first week to 2 weeks after deciding to quit Adderall. Additional behavioral interventions may include:5
- Group behavioral therapy.
- Individual counseling sessions.
- Support group attendance.
- Recreational therapy and other wellness activities.
Adderall Addiction Treatment Programs
Once you’ve cleared your body of Adderall, you can begin the real work of recovering from addiction. Without continued treatment for Adderall addiction, you could be at higher risk of relapse, especially if you immediately return to the environment that fostered your maladaptive use of substances to begin with. Options for ongoing care include outpatient programs and residential rehab centers.10
Maintaining abstinence from Adderall can be difficult when living in the same environment in which you previously misused the drug. Often, there are triggers in your immediate environment that could promote relapse if you don’t have the proper support. Outpatient rehab programs—including partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) and intensive outpatient programs (IOPs)—can help you to smoothly navigate this transitional phase.12 You can expect group therapy to be the primary focus of most outpatient options, but some offer weekly family sessions and individual sessions as needed.
PHP often entails a full day of group therapy. The treatment center will facilitate the prescribing of any needed medications and access to other medical services. Meeting for a few scheduled hours a day throughout the week, IOP provides a group therapy program where medications are managed by your outside provider.10 There are substance use-specific and mental health-specific programs. Again, each facility is different, so it is important to speak to someone who can refer you to the right facility for your sustained recovery.
Inpatient Rehab Programs
In an inpatient rehab program, you may participate in services and activities such as:
- Individual therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Classes on nutrition and healthy eating.
- Skills training.
- Alternative therapies like yoga and medication.
- Aftercare planning.
These facilities can greatly vary in price and location so it is important to speak to someone who can help you make the decision that is within your budget that also suits your treatment needs.