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Adderall Detox: Timeline, Side Effects & Withdrawal Symptoms

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If you or someone close to you is struggling with an addiction to Adderall and wants to get clean, the first thing you will have to do is go through detox. Detox is a very important part of the recovery process, yet it can also serve as a barrier to recovery for many people. Detox is often uncomfortable and challenging. For those considering quitting Adderall after an extended period of drug abuse, understanding the Adderall detox timeline can help provide a better picture of what lies ahead. Adderall addiction detox isn’t easy but with comprehensive care, it can be a more comfortable and manageable process.

What is Adderall?

Understanding what Adderall is can help provide important context for the detox timeline. Adderall is a prescription stimulant that is most often used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also used to treat narcolepsy, a condition where a person uncontrollably falls into a deep sleep. Adderall is the trade name for a drug that combines two different stimulants: amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. Adderall is typically prescribed in pills ranging from 5 – 30 milligrams; there are normal timed release and extended-release versions available.  Adderall and other prescription stimulants have a very high potential for abuse. Adderall works by increasing the activity for the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. Dopamine has specific pathways in the brain. These pathways help regulate motor function, reward response, and emotions. When Adderall the increased activity of dopamine in the brain produces feelings of pleasure and euphoria. This response is an important component of addiction. Adderall’s action on norepinephrine is responsible for many of the stimulant properties of the drug. This neurotransmitter is used to help stimulate the sympathetic nervous system in times of extreme threat or stress. This is known as the body’s “fight-or-flight” response, a term used to signify events that require an extreme response to survive. When norepinephrine is released it constricts the blood vessels, increases respiration, improves focus, and increases blood pressure and heart rate. Taken together these responses help prepare the body for making fast, decisive action.  Both of the stimulants that Adderall contains help produce the effects that individuals feel when they take the drug. These effects include:

  • Improved focus
  • Increased energy
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased respiration
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased fatigue

The stimulant properties of Adderall have made it a drug that is popular with high-school and college students. Teenagers and young adults take Adderall to improve performance in school and at work, to juggle multiple time-consuming commitments, and enhance their memory and test performance. 

Adderall Side Effects

Like most drugs, Adderall has some side-effects. These side-effects become more pronounced and intense the longer an individual uses Adderall or the higher the dose of the drug they take. Some individuals may experience a few of these side-effects over the time they are using Adderall, while others may experience none of the side-effects at all. Chronic, long-term substance abuse of Adderall will most likely result in some negative impact on the physical and mental health of the individual. Side effects of Adderall include:

  • Weight loss
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Faintness and loss of consciousness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures

As the list of potential side-effects indicates, there are substantial risks with prolonged use of Adderall at high doses or outside of prescribed levels. Foremost among these is the potential for developing seizures or hallucinations. Extended periods of time with heightened blood pressure or heart rate can also lead to cardiovascular damage. This makes it important to identify Adderall abuse early on and get help to overcome the addiction before damage can occur. 

What is Detox?

Most people who haven’t gone through prescription drug rehab aren’t aware of what detox is and why it is important. Detox is often thought of as separate from the recovery process. While this is accurate, this way of thinking fails to do justice to the importance of detox to long-term recovery. Detox can instead be thought of not as a treatment, but as a necessary first step for treatment to take place. Detoxing is the process through which the body is cleansed of drugs prior to entering addiction treatment. The idea behind detox is that treatment is less effective if you are still under the influence of recreational drugs you are abusing. There is also another element to detox, and that is navigating the withdrawal process. When you use Adderall and many other drugs, over time your body builds up a tolerance to them. As your tolerance to the drug grows you must use more of the drug to achieve the same effect. Your body becomes used to the presence of the drug and adapts to that presence. Once you stop taking the drug, your body must go through an adjustment period before it begins functioning normally. This process of readjustment is known as withdrawal. Withdrawal from stimulants like Adderall is difficult for most people to navigate on their own. Most people that have to go through withdrawal look forward to it with anxiety because they know that it is a challenging and uncomfortable process. Most people wouldn’t be able to engage with the recovery process if they still had to go through withdrawal after it was done. Instead, a more effective approach is to help individuals navigate the withdrawal process prior to entering addiction treatment. This allows them to enter treatment for Adderall addiction with a clear mind and body, and with the physically grueling withdrawal process behind them.  One of the most important differences between detox and withdrawal is that within a detox program medical professionals are able to administer medications that can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms. For example, with Adderall, one of the most common mental withdrawal symptoms is depression. Within a detox setting, individuals suffering from depression as a result of withdrawal may be administered anti-depressants so their symptoms can be alleviated. Through the targeted administration of certain medications, medical professionals are able to help make the detox process easier and safer.

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms for Adderall usually begin within 24 hours after the last dose. Most symptoms of Adderall will subside by the end of the second week, but some symptoms might persist for weeks or even months after you have quit Adderall. When looking at this timeline it is important to keep in mind the timeline for detox and the symptoms experienced vary between individuals. There are a number of factors that can influence how you experience withdrawal and how long the symptoms last.  The factors which can influence the withdrawal process include:

  • Length of time you have abused Adderall;
  • The dosage of Adderall you are taking;
  • Your metabolism, weight, and health profile.

Initial Withdrawal

The initial withdrawal from Adderall typically begins within 24 hours after the last dose. Many people begin to experience withdrawal as a “crash”. During this initial period, many people feel lethargic and tired. Some may experience extreme hunger as the effects of the drug wear off and their normal hunger returns.

The First Week

Throughout the first week of withdrawal, physical withdrawal symptoms will manifest, peak, and begin to subside. Most people experience withdrawal symptoms of increasing intensity over the course of the first couple of days, with physical withdrawal symptoms peaking in intensity 3-4 days after they have stopped taking the drug, and then eventually reducing in intensity. These early withdrawal symptoms tend to involve stomach turmoil such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Many individuals will experience increased hunger as well. Difficulty concentrating is very common with Adderall withdrawal, though this symptom can persist long after physical withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are all very common as well during the first week of Adderall withdrawal.

The Second Week

Throughout the second week, most of the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing should be diminishing. Most of the physical withdrawal symptoms should subside towards the end of the first week and the beginning of the second week. Some individuals continue to experience powerful fatigue, headaches, and achiness throughout the second week and beyond. Mental withdrawal symptoms may continue throughout the second week of withdrawal and beyond. Some individuals have recounted having mental withdrawal symptoms persist up to a month after they stopped taking Adderall, though most people will notice a reduction in symptoms by the end of the second week.

Symptoms of Adderall Detox and Withdrawal

Alongside a timeline, it is also helpful to have a firm understanding of what the most common Adderall detox symptoms are. Here are the most common symptoms an individual going through Adderall detox might experience:

  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating, thinking or forming thoughts
  • Muscle aches and soreness
  • Drastically increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Sleep problems
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Desire to use Adderall again

While none of the symptoms experienced during Adderall withdrawal are usually life-threatening, they can be challenging to navigate without support. Many people who have gone through Adderall withdrawal relate that they felt extremely tired and found it difficult to get out of bed. Stomach issues are common, with many people experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea in the days after they have quit. Depression is a very common symptom of Adderall withdrawal, and in some cases, individuals going through withdrawal may have suicidal thoughts. The risks of ignoring these symptoms are great, and they should be addressed through medical intervention if necessary.  Alongside depression, the mental fogginess and fatigue most people experience when they have quit Adderall make it difficult to carry on with normal tasks until these symptoms subside. Many people take Adderall to achieve greater productivity and enhanced clarity. When going through withdrawal, it can be difficult to cope with the mental sluggishness that occurs. Simple decisions can seem difficult to make, and normal interactions and tasks can seem daunting. It is especially important during this time period to be in a safe, comfortable space.

Signs of Adderall Abuse

The long-term effects of Adderall abuse make it a high priority to get help to address the addiction early on. Getting help early for yourself or a loved one who is struggling with Adderall abuse gives the best chances for a successful recovery and can help reduce the risk of developing potentially dangerous side-effects. The most common signs of Adderall abuse are:

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Boundless energy
  • Lack of fatigue or little desire to sleep
  • Withdrawal from friends and social circles
  • Periods of intense activity followed by a crash
  • Financial trouble
  • Exhaustion
  • Difficulty concentrating

If you have been taking Adderall and aren’t sure if you need to get treatment there are some key warning signs that may help you make the determination. If you have a prescription for Adderall and are using more than you have been prescribed, it can be an indication your use has become problematic. Similarly, if you attempt to stop taking Adderall and find it is too difficult, this should be taken as a sign that it is time to get help.  There are no firm rules for when it is time to seek help for problematic Adderall consumption. If your use of Adderall has strayed outside of your prescription, or your Adderall use has begun impacting your performance at work or school it may be an indication that you need to seek out help. It is always best to err on the side of caution and seek out help earlier rather than later. Although this is a difficult decision to make, it can ultimately make the recovery process much faster and easier if you address the problem early.

Treatment for Adderall Withdrawal and Addiction

Adderall detox can be challenging, but it can be overcome with the right care and support. Adderall withdrawal symptoms begin within 24 hours of the last dose and usually begin to subside by the end of the first week. Most symptoms will have stopped by the end of the second week, though many people experience depression and difficulty sleeping past this point. The most effective way to detox from Adderall is to do so under medical supervision. Many of the withdrawal signs and symptoms experienced during Adderall withdrawal can be minimized or eliminated with medication. Additionally, any serious health complications or underlying health conditions that arise during the withdrawal process can be quickly identified and addressed if you are going through withdrawal in a treatment program.  To learn more about Adderall detox and treatment programs, please contact Apex Recovery today.


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