Adderall, and variants like Adderall XL, is an amphetamine-based drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and, sometimes, narcolepsy. When this drug is prescribed by a physician, it is part of a larger and longer-term treatment plan, during which the doctor monitors the patient for signs of addiction or tolerance to the medication. If the doctor sees either, the patient may be asked to stop taking the drug for a certain period of time so dependence doesn’t become an issue.
However, Adderall addiction does occur. This medication increases attention span and energy. When a person does not take the drug after using it for some time, the person may experience withdrawal symptoms, feeling groggy, exhausted, slow, or depressed.
Different Bodies Tolerate Adderall Withdrawal Differently
All drugs, including Adderall, affect individuals somewhat differently. There are a few factors that complicate Adderall withdrawal. These include:
- Length of time the person has used the drug: For people who have discovered an unintended dependence on the medication after a few weeks, withdrawal might not last as long as it will for people who have taken the drug for years. If Adderall has been taken for years, the individual’s brain feels that it needs the drug to function normally. As a result, withdrawal symptoms are generally more intense for those who have abused the drug for a while.
- Frequency or size of dose: People who only take a small amount of Adderall will not have developed as intense a dependency on the drug as people who take large or more frequent doses. A sign of addiction is the need to step up the dose of the drug to feel its effects. Continually raising dosage levels creates a buildup of the drug in the body, which means withdrawal symptoms during detox can last longer and be stronger.
- Physiology of each individual: Because Adderall is a psychiatric medication, each individual will react differently when the drug is stopped. People could have no withdrawal symptoms at all, and their brains could maintain a chemical balance easily, or they could suffer intense withdrawal symptoms for weeks after they quit the drug.
What Are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?
Symptoms of withdrawal can vary in their frequency and intensity, and it is possible that a person undergoing Adderall withdrawal will not suffer all of these symptoms. General symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:
- Difficulty concentrating on tasks
- Exhaustion or extreme sleepiness
- Suicidal thoughts
- Irritability or other mood swings
- Body aches and pains
- Vivid dreams or nightmares
How Long before Adderall Withdrawal Is Over?
As mentioned previously, the actual timeline it takes for Adderall to exit a person’s system will vary due to many factors. Despite variances that occur between individuals, a general withdrawal timeline for Adderall will looking like the following:
- 6-24 hours: Usually, a dose of Adderall will begin exiting the body 6 hours after the person takes the medication. For an individual suffering from addiction, this is typically when cravings for more of the drug begin. Intense fatigue and depression are usually the first signs of Adderall withdrawal.
- Day 2-3: Symptoms typically involve grogginess, fuzzy thinking, depression, oversleeping, and exhaustion. However, some individuals might begin to feel anxiety about the detox process, or they might suffer insomnia or changes to sleep patterns.
- Days 3-5: As the person makes it to the halfway point in the first week, symptoms will intensify. This is generally when withdrawal symptoms peak; after the fifth day, symptoms usually begin to improve.
- Days 6-7: As the first week comes to a close, Adderall withdrawal symptoms typically begin to fade. Emotional reactions like mood swings and irritability will persist, and depression may come and go.
- Beginning of week 2: After the first week has passed, physical symptoms should have largely passed or become manageable. However, psychological symptoms will continue, including depression and anxiety. If a person quits Adderall “cold turkey,” it is important to get emotional support from a therapist, rehab center, support group, friends, and family members.
- Weeks 2 and 3: Psychological withdrawal symptoms should come and go with less intensity. Occasional cravings may appear. Virtually all physical symptoms should have ended by this point.
Should I Just Stop Taking Adderall?
Medical detox is always recommended for those suffering from addiction. This ensures the comfort and safety of those withdrawing from Adderall and other substances. People who have been abusing Adderall for a long time, those who abused it in conjunction with other substances, and those suffering from co-occurring mental health issues should always opt for medical detox.
Detox is not addiction treatment in and of itself. It must be followed by comprehensive addiction treatment to ensure the reasons that led to substance abuse are addressed. Without therapy, it’s likely that individuals will relapse after detox.