Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Adderall is composed of two substances, amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, and increases alertness and energy by stimulating the central nervous system. Despite its success in treating ADHD, Adderall misuse is common and may lead to addiction. When Adderall is used repeatedly, tolerance may occur. Tolerance means that it takes an increased dose of Adderall to produce the same physical effects, leading individuals to use higher and higher quantities of the drug over time.
Prolonged Adderall use can also lead to physical dependence on the drug. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to functioning with the drug present. When an individual develops an Adderall dependence and subsequently stops using the drug, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms occur due to chemical imbalances within the body. Although withdrawal symptoms and duration can differ between individuals, understanding the Adderall withdrawal timeline is essential for individuals preparing to stop Adderall use.
How Long Does Adderall Withdrawal Last?
Individuals preparing to stop Adderall use may wonder, how long does Adderall withdrawal last? Adderall withdrawal timing can vary greatly, and no two people will have the same experience. The duration of Adderall withdrawal depends, in part, on the formulation used. Standard immediate-release Adderall formulations are cleared from the body faster than Adderall XR, an extended-release formulation.
Immediate release Adderall takes effect in 30-45 minutes after ingestion and effects remain for three to four hours. Adderall XR begins to work within 30-45 minutes but remains effective for 10-12 hours. Several additional factors impact the Adderall withdrawal timeline, they include:
- Adderall dose used
- Frequency of Adderall use
- Duration of Adderall use
- Height, weight and body fat percentage
- Liver and kidney function
- Use of other drugs or alcohol
- Underlying medical or mental health conditions
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms Timeline
The duration and severity of Adderall withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person. Understanding a typical timeline for quitting Adderall may help individuals preparing for withdrawal know what to expect. Once the stimulant effects of Adderall begin to wear off, the initial phase of withdrawal begins. This initial phase, or ‘crash’ is then followed by a wave of secondary symptoms that may persist for weeks after ceasing Adderall use. A typical timeline for Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be divided as follows:
- First 36 hours: Preliminary side effects of coming off Adderall include fatigue, depression, irritability, excessive eating and insomnia (also known as Adderall insomnia)
- Days 3-5: After several days, the side effects of stopping Adderall may intensify and expand to also include body aches and pains, Adderall withdrawal headache, cravings, irritability, trouble concentrating, lethargy, severe sleep disturbances and psychotic symptoms such as paranoia or psychosis
- Days 5-7: Symptoms of stopping Adderall begin to decline, although mood disturbances often continue
- Week 2: When coming off of Adderall, some symptoms may persist for a few weeks, including moods, cravings, sleep problems, depression and fatigue; symptom persistence is common in individuals who have developed a tolerance to the drug
- Week 3 and beyond: After the initial weeks, withdrawal symptoms typically diminish but may persist for a few months; depression after stopping Adderall is common and may require further treatment
Managing the Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal
Adderall detox and withdrawal are difficult to undergo without professional assistance. Adderall withdrawal treatment may include medical detox, inpatient or outpatient rehab, medications, psychotherapy and support groups.
Medical professionals generally recommend tapering off Adderall rather than abruptly quitting or going ‘cold turkey.’ Tapering, which involves slowly decreasing the drug dosage, limits Adderall withdrawal symptoms. Professional treatment is advised when attempting Adderall detox, as a medical staff designs a tapering schedule and closely monitors and treats any potential withdrawal symptoms.
An inpatient setting may be necessary if severe psychotic symptoms occur during withdrawal. Medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, may be useful in treating depression, paranoia and anxiety during Adderall withdrawal.
Attending a comprehensive addiction treatment program, either on an inpatient or outpatient basis, is critical in managing Adderall withdrawal. Such programs provide the proper medical monitoring, counseling, support groups and aftercare programs to achieve long-term recovery from Adderall addiction.
If you or someone you love is struggling with Adderall addiction, Orlando Recovery is here to help. Contact us today to explore treatment options available to you and to receive the assistance you deserve.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Prescription Stimulants.” June 2018. Accessed October 21, 2019.
Boorady, Ray. “Understanding ADHD Medications.” Child Mind Institute, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.
SA Health. “Amphetamine withdrawal management.” Government of South Australia, August 9, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2019.