Withdrawing from Adderall can be tough – but it’s worth it. Adderall Detox is the first stage in recovery from drug abuse, paving the way to a healthy and fulfilling life. With professional medical support, you can overcome Adderall withdrawal safely and as comfortably as possible.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription medication that is FDA-approved to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. Adderall contains the chemicals racemic amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, two central nervous system stimulants that improve communication in the brain. While Adderall can effectively improve concentration, attention, and behavior in children and adults living with ADHD, abusing the substance for other purposes is dangerous and puts you at risk of developing Adderall addiction and dependence.
Adderall comes in two forms: extended-release (Adderall XR) and immediate-release (Adderall IR).
How Does Adderall Affect the Brain?
Adderall works by affecting the availability of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that different regions of the brain use to communicate with each other and other cells in the body.
Two of these neurotransmitters are dopamine and norepinephrine. Scientists think that people may have unbalanced levels of these neurotransmitters, affecting brain functions such as concentration and alertness. Adderall increases their availability, improving the individual’s focus and ability to complete tasks.
In recent years, Adderall abuse has become increasingly common on college campuses as a so-called “study drug”. Students misuse Adderall to stay up late to study, revise for longer periods, and to try and improve their academic performance. In reality, however, abusing Adderall can be detrimental to academic achievement, with studies suggesting that it can lead to twice as many missed classes.
People also use Adderall recreationally at parties, particularly mixed with other drugs in so-called “Adderall cocktails”. Mixing Adderall with any other substance is extremely dangerous, often increasing the chance of an overdose of both substances.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 5 million adults misused prescription stimulants like Adderall in 2018.
What Is Adderall Dependence?
Adderall dependence can develop when you repeatedly take Adderall without, or not according to, a prescription. Taking Adderall too frequently or in high doses can cause your body to adjust to the presence of the substance in the body, altering its own production of chemicals and functions. You begin to need to take higher doses of Adderall to experience the same effects (tolerance) and become dependent on the drug to feel normal.
If you then stop taking Adderall, you experience a series of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms as your body readjusts. Adderall withdrawal can be mild or severe, depending on the certain characteristics of the individual, including:
- history of drug use
- any co-occurring mental health issues
- physical health
- abuse of other substances
Whatever the severity of withdrawal symptoms, an Adderall detox program can guide you through withdrawal safely and as comfortably as possible.
While the withdrawal process is different for each individual, there are some common symptoms of withdrawal that people tend to experience.
Physical withdrawal symptoms may include:
- body aches
- slowed speech and movements
- slow heart rate
- jerky movements
- weight loss
Psychological symptoms of Adderall withdrawal may include:
- mood swings
- panic attacks
- Adderall cravings
People who have severe withdrawal symptoms may experience severe depression, suicidal thoughts, ideations, and urges to self-harm. While these symptoms can be scary, professional medical supervision can help prevent and manage severe psychological withdrawal. Remember, you should always seek medical support before detoxing from prescription stimulants like Adderall. If you see anyone experiencing Adderall withdrawal symptoms, seek emergency medical attention.
Inpatient and Outpatient Treatment for Adderall Withdrawal
A medical detox program can involve either inpatient or outpatient detox. During inpatient detox, you stay at an Adderall detox center 24/7, with access to round-the-clock medical support. An outpatient detox involves careful supervision by a doctor through a detox plan and regular check-ups, but you continue to live at home.
Because psychological and physical symptoms of stimulant withdrawal are not usually life-threatening, many people can safely detox from Adderall at home. However, your doctor may recommend inpatient detox, particularly if:
- you have abused Adderall for a long time
- you have taken high doses of Adderall
- you have co-occurring mental health issues
- you have an unstable home environment
Adderall withdrawal typically begins with an initial crash about 24 hours after the last dose, involving feelings of irritability, depression, or anxiety. This is followed by an acute withdrawal period of about 7-10 days, involving the symptoms of withdrawal listed above. Severe psychological symptoms usually manifest at this time.
After about 10 days, symptoms of withdrawal begin to improve, with most people feeling normal after another couple of weeks. A minority of people may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) for several months or even years after withdrawal. PAWS are usually mild and resemble the symptoms of mood disorders such as depression or anxiety.
What Are the Dangers of Adderall Abuse?
While taking Adderall according to a prescription is perfectly safe, stimulant abuse comes with both short-term and long-term dangers.
Some of the risks of Adderall abuse include:
- difficulty concentrating
- sleeping problems
- lack of motivation
- anxiety and panic attacks
- Adderall overdose, resulting in coma or death
- Adderall addiction, the compulsively seeking and using Adderall despite any negative consequences
How Does Adderall Addiction Develop?
Abusing Adderall puts you at serious risk of developing Adderall addiction. Adderall addiction develops because of the way dopamine interacts with the reward pathway in the brain.
When you take Adderall, the release of dopamine signals to the brain that the action is beneficial and that you should do it again. Repeated Adderall use alters neuronal connectivity along the reward pathway, creating strong urges to seek and use the drug that can be hard to resist.
These changes in the brain can be long-lasting or even permanent, making it difficult to quit substance abuse without effective support. Because of this, detox alone is rarely sufficient to overcome addiction. However, detoxing from Adderall paves the way for addiction treatment programs that help individuals overcome addictive behaviors and go some way to reversing brain changes.
In recent years, extensive scientific research has uncovered a range of evidence-based treatment options, proven to help people overcome stimulant addiction. Effective addiction treatment addresses the underlying causes of addiction, promoting long-last change and resilient recovery. Treatment should assess the multiple and unique needs of each individual, treating any co-occurring mental health conditions alongside addiction.
Addiction treatment approaches may include:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy
- group programming
- family therapy
- support groups
- experiential therapy
- complementary therapy
- dual diagnosis
- life skills development
- medication assisted treatment
Levels of Care
Addiction treatment can be inpatient or outpatient, depending on the individual’s needs. Treatment programs usually involve comprehensive aftercare to guide clients after they have completed a program, ensuring they are equipped to face any challenges ahead. Many people continue to attend recovery meetings on a permanent basis to help them stay committed to their recovery goals and to access a source of ongoing support.
Addiction Treatment and Detox at Alina Lodge
For over 60 years, Alina Lodge has been at the forefront of residential addiction treatment, offering one of the top recovery experiences in the United States. Our programs address the root causes of addiction, ensuring that every client leaves the center equipped to achieve long-term recovery. Our personalized, one-to-one treatment of each client and exceptional clinical care has helped us earn the reputation we have today.
At Alina Lodge, we appreciate the role family members can play in addiction recovery. We help families rebuild a compassionate and effective support system while healing damaged relationships. Our expert and specialized staff offer a wide range of treatment modalities, including grief therapy and mindfulness-based relapse prevention, to promote holistic healing of the entire person.
At our treatment center, we ensure that our values of time, compassion, and integrity permeate everything we do. We’ll stay by your side and guide you to life-long recovery and prosperity.
If you or a loved one is living with substance abuse, contact us today and open the door to a life free from addiction.