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Adderall Detox Guide: Symptoms, Timeline, and Effects

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Patient being rushed to emergency roomAdderall is an amphetamine medication that is used to treat the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy. Adderall acts on the monoamine neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine in the brain to stimulate those with narcolepsy and to create what some call a “paradoxical calming effect” on those with ADHD. Adderall is classified as a Schedule II drug, which means that it has accepted medical uses but that it is highly monitored due to the potential it poses for abuse and dependence 1.

While Adderall has legitimate medical use, taking it recreationally or taking too much can have serious consequences. Consider the following statistics:2

  • 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 the visits involved adverse reactions to amphetamine medications.
  • Almost half of the admissions involved the use of another prescription-grade medication, and nearly 1/5th involved the use of other substances, most commonly marijuana or alcohol.

These statistics underscore the high risk of abusing Adderall and the risk of abusing Adderall with other substances 2.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Adderall Abuse?

Although Adderall is effective at managing the symptoms of ADHD and narcolepsy, it is often abused by people who don’t have prescriptions or by those who misuse their prescriptions. Many people engage in Adderall abuse in order to enhance studying, increase energy, lose weight, and get high. 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 abuse include2,4,5,6:

  • Euphoria.
  • Increased sociability.
  • Increased energy and attentiveness.
  • Irregular heartbeat.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Dizziness.
  • Nervousness.
  • Psychomotor agitation (repetitive, purposeless movements).
  • Changes in appetite/marked weight loss.
  • Increased body temperature.
  • Noticeable changes in behavior, such as intense anger, hostility, or paranoia.
  • Intranasal effects, such as nosebleeds or irritated nasal mucosa.
  • Intravenous signs, such as track lines, puncture marks, abscesses, or cellulitis.
  • “Doctor shopping,” or seeing multiple doctors to get several prescriptions.

Knowing these signs and symptoms can prepare you to help someone who has a problem with Adderall abuse. There are many detox and addiction treatment options available for someone who needs assistance in quitting Adderall. Formal treatment programs provide patients with the structure, support, and care needed to help them withdraw comfortably and achieve long-term recovery.

What Are the Risks of Abuse?

Abusing Adderall is not without serious physical and mental health risks. The longer you abuse 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 abuse1,4,6:

  • 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
  • Intravenous consequences, such as HIV, hepatitis, tetanus, tuberculosis, or infection of the heart lining
  • Intranasal consequences, such as perforated nasal septum
  • Malnutrition
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Blockage of blood vessels due to insoluble fillers in the tablets
  • Erratic or dangerous behaviors due to paranoia
  • Severe mood swings

Adderall abuse is dangerous and even life-threatening. It’s not worth the risk. Quitting Adderall can help you take the vital steps towards a healthier and happier life.

Effects and Symptoms of Adderall Withdrawal

Adderall users are at high risk for developing psychological and physiological dependence. If 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:1,3

  • Cravings.
  • Fatigue.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Vivid or unpleasant dreams and nightmares.
  • Sleep disturbances – either insomnia or hypersomnia.
  • Increased appetite.
  • Impaired social functioning.
  • Nervousness, anxiety, or panic.
  • Paranoia.
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation.
  • Irritability and/or other mood disturbances.
  • Dysphoria, or a general feeling of dissatisfaction.
  • Depression.

Adderall Detox Timeline and Protocol

Close-up of a sad and depressed woman deep in thoughtDetoxing from Adderall fully can take anywhere from 5 days to 3 weeks 3. The amount of time it takes to detox from Adderall and the severity of withdrawal symptoms depend on several factors including 1,3:

  • Average dosage 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 serious concurrent medical or mental health conditions or who are abusing substances in addition to Adderall begin their substance abuse recoveries with the help of professional detox and substance abuse treatment facilities. Supervised detoxification facilities will have clinicians on hand who know how to detox patients off Adderall safely and who will closely monitor you through withdrawal; if required, medications can be prescribed and administered to ease any of the more severe symptoms of acute Adderall withdrawal.

Detox programs will often be part of or transition into a more robust treatment program. 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; 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 cessation; 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.

Do I Need Adderall Detox?

There are a number of telltale behaviors associated with Adderall dependence. Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to diagnose a substance use disorder. If you or a loved one identify with at least 2 of the following symptoms of Adderall abuse, please consider speaking to someone who can help you find a detox program 4:

  • 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 same 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.

Dangers of Continuing to Abuse Adderall

Adderall poses several risks of long-term exposure, including 1,3:

  • Cardiovascular complications.
  • Neurotoxicity.
  • Abnormal dopaminergic and serotonergic neurotransmission.

In addition, Adderall abuse may increase the likelihood of the following mental health symptoms 1,3:

  • Anxiety and panic.
  • Anger and aggression leading to antisocial or oppositional and defiant behaviors.
  • Depression.

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.

How Does Supervised Detox Help?

Because Adderall withdrawal, in some cases, is associated with mental health symptoms like anxiety and depression, it can be important to detox in a program in which you can get support for these issues. A detox program can furthermore help to prevent relapse while supportively managing other significantly troublesome symptoms.

Seeking professional help for Adderall detox will decrease the likelihood that you will experience severe side effects associated with detoxing from Adderall. In addition, a professional can monitor your side effects and other issues that may arise during detox and mitigate them with alternative medication therapy.

The length of time it takes to detox from Adderall and the intensity of symptoms you may experience vary widely from person to person. Seeking guidance and supervision in a formal treatment program will help you to detox in a safe and more comfortable manner, which will also reduce the likelihood of relapsing to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal.

Finding an Adderall Treatment Program

If you believe you would benefit from treatment for Adderall dependence or addiction there are several options available.

Supervised Outpatient Detox

This type of care involves the close supervision of your cessation of Adderall by your physician on an outpatient basis. After you’ve successfully detoxed, you will generally be advised to enter into a treatment program in which you can continue the process of recovering from Adderall addiction.

Speak to your physician to discuss whether this option might be appropriate for you.

Supervised Inpatient Detox

Inpatient detox is the preferred option for many people who are suffering from an addiction to Adderall. It can provide an appropriately immersive level of treatment for those who have been abusing 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:

  • Group therapy.
  • Individual therapy.
  • Recreational therapy.

Every detox center is different so it is important to speak to someone who can refer you to the right facility for you. Call 1-888-509-8965 Who Answers? to get help finding a center that will suit your needs.

Post-Detox Treatment

Once you’ve cleared your body of Adderall, you can begin the real work of recovering from addiction. Without continued treatment, you’ll be significantly subject to relapse, especially if you immediately return to the environment that fostered your substance use. Options for ongoing care include outpatient programs and residential rehab centers.

Outpatient Treatment

Remaining abstinent from Adderall can be difficult when living in the same environment in which you abused the drug. Often, there are triggers in your immediate environment that could cause you to relapse if you don’t have the proper support. Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) can help you to smoothly navigate this transitional phase, which is critical to long-term sobriety. You can expect group therapy to be the primary focus of either of these structured outpatient options, but some offer weekly family sessions and individual sessions as needed.

PHP often entails a full day of group substance abuse therapy. The hospital setting 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. There are substance abuse-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.

Residential Rehab Programs

Completion of detox is the beginning — not the entirety — of addiction treatment. Therapy and skills training to prevent relapse and live a successfully sober life will make up a comprehensive program of treatment. Many residential programs will include both supervised detox and ongoing therapy. In an inpatient rehab program, you may receive services such as:

  • Individual therapy.
  • Family therapy.
  • Group therapy.
  • Classes on nutrition and healthy eating.
  • Skills training.
  • Exercise.
  • 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.


Sources

[1] Berman, S. M., Kuczenski, R., McCracken, J. T., & London, E. D. (2009). Potential Adverse Effects of Amphetamine Treatment on Brain and Behavior: A Review. Molecular Psychiatry, 14(2), 123–142.

[2] SAMHSA. (2012). The Dawn Report: Emergency Department Visits Involving Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder Stimulant Medications.

[3] Australian Government Department of Health and Aging. (2004). Models of Intervention and Care for Psychostimulant Users.

[4] American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

[5] National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2017). Prescription Stimulant Medications (Amphetamines).

[6] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Stimulant ADHD Medications: Methylphenidate and Amphetamines.

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