A doctor or addiction specialist should always be involved during Adderall withdrawal. Uncomfortable side effects can manifest in those who discontinue the drug’s use too abruptly. A physician can devise a tapering schedule for those who choose the weaning method, which will typically last for a few weeks or months. Individuals who opt for medical detox, the process lasts only a few days, but long-term treatment and support is often needed to sustain sobriety.
Adderall is a stimulant drug prescribed to treat symptoms of ADD/ADHD or narcolepsy. As an amphetamine, it works by binding to chemical messengers in the brain responsible for regulating motivation, concentration, and reward, similar to methamphetamine, albeit weaker. Adderall increases activity in the central nervous system (CNS) overall and increases heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature while keeping users alert and feeling energetic. It is also an effective appetite suppressant.
When Adderall is used for an extended period, changes occur to the chemical structure and function of the brain that can produce a dependence on the drug. When this condition has developed, the body will have become no longer able to function correctly without the presence of Adderall.
Moreover, Adderall and other prescription and illicit stimulants are considered to be highly addictive. It is not recommended to quit taking a drug such as Adderall “cold turkey” or without medical intervention or tapering schedule, as this may induce uncomfortable withdrawal effects. Instead, a physician or addiction professional should be involved in this process, regardless of which method is used.
With medical detox, the person is clinically monitored around-the-clock for 5-7 days, and potential complications are addressed while the body rids itself of the drug and other toxins. During a tapering process, the dosage is gradually reduced over weeks or months, depending on the severity of the dependency.
What Causes Adderall Withdrawal
Dopamine is one of the brain’s key neurochemicals involved in feelings of reward and pleasure. It occurs naturally in the body when external stimuli, such as the smell of food, are enjoyable to a person. Adderall produces a surge of this transmitter in the brain. Over time, as it continuously interferes with dopamine levels, the brain may begin to stop producing as much of the chemical messenger without the drug’s influence.
There, the brain stops functioning the same way it did before the drug was introduced and now requires the use of Adderall to remain stable. When the use of the drug is discontinued, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms manifest as a result of the brain and the body’s struggle to regain balance.
Adderall withdrawal symptoms may include the following:
- Changes in appetite
- Depression and anxiety
- Suicidal ideations
- Drug cravings
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of motivation
- Muscle aches and pains
As noted, these symptoms indicate that a physical/chemical dependence on Adderall has developed. Withdrawal symptoms may be both physical and psycho-emotional in nature, and they can range in severity, depending on the person’s level of dependence. Adderall dependence is somewhat affected by the method of use (e.g., snorting or injecting versus oral consumption), duration in which the drug has been used, the average dose taken, family or personal history of substance abuse, and mental and physical health status.
It goes without saying that the greater the dependence a person has on Adderall, the more powerful and prolonged the withdrawal period and symptoms will likely be.
Benefits of Medical Detox
Medical detox is typically performed at a specialized addiction treatment center that provides a safe and controlled clinical environment with 24/7 access to medical and mental health support services. While there are no specific medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration for dependence on stimulants, sometimes supplements or prescription drugs may be effective in reducing some of the withdrawal symptoms during the detox process.
Withdrawal from Adderall has a significant psychological component, and antidepressants may be beneficial during detox to help manage depressive symptoms and prevent suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Anti-anxiety and mood-stabilizing agents may also help mitigate high levels of stress and nervousness that can manifest during Adderall detox. Sleep aids may also be helpful as sleep disturbances are common during Adderall detox and withdrawal.
Dramatic mood swings, panic attacks, and even psychosis can be potential side effects of Adderall use, which may be related to an underlying mental health condition. Occasionally, schizophrenia-like symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, and mania, have been associated with prescription stimulant abuse. These effects are more likely to occur in those with a preexisting mental illness, such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but can usually be managed with medication during detox when prudent.
Before entering a medical detox program, a full medical and mental health evaluation will be conducted as well as a drug screen as a means to ensure the safest and most effective treatment plan. Mental health support and behavioral therapy are vital during withdrawal and into recovery to reduce the risk of relapse.
Moreover, when the motivation and reward centers of the brain are undergoing re-stabilization after an addiction to a drug has interfered with their normal function, the emotional toll of recovery and drug cravings may drive a person to return to drug abuse for relief. Professional guidance and emotional support can help reduce the risk of relapse.
A return to drug use after quitting is very common. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) states that relapse rates for drug addiction are as high as 40-60%, and are similar to those of other chronic medical illnesses such as asthma and hypertension, which also have both physical and behavioral components. Relapse most commonly occurs within the first month of discontinuing the use of amphetamine, and it is critical to have as much support as possible during this time.
Getting Help for Addiction
Detox should be just one part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes therapy, counseling, psychoeducation, and ongoing support. Addiction is a complex, potentially lifelong disease, but it can be effectively treated with proper care and support, and detox is just the beginning. Those who are highly-motivated can expect to make a full recovery and sustain long-term sobriety and peace of mind.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer intensive treatment programs in both partial hospitalization and residential formats. Our programs feature a variety of services essential for the process of recovery, including psychotherapy, individual and family counseling, group support, experiential activities, aftercare planning, and more.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Adderall dependence or an addiction to other drugs or alcohol, please contact us today! Discover how we help those we treat free themselves from the use of addictive substances and foster the healthy, happy, and satisfying lives they deserve!