ARTICLE SUMMARY: When you go “cold turkey” off a medication, you quit using the drug suddenly. This abrupt discontinuation not only makes it extremely difficult to abstain from Adderall, but can have severe health consequences.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Is Cold Turkey Safe?
- Who Can Go Cold Turkey?
- What Does It Feel Like?
- Medical Help
- Section for Questions
Is Cold Turkey Safe?
No. Going cold turkey off Adderall is very dangerous. Adderall is actually a combination of amphetamine salts that work as central nervous system stimulants. Abrupt cessation following prolonged high dose use results in extreme fatigue and mental depression; but these are not the only risks. .
Unless you need to quit abruptly for medical necessity, there is usually no need to stop taking Adderall all at once, even if you are physically or psychologically dependent on the drug. Instead, people who have been taking Adderall for a long time and want to stop taking Adderall should slowly reduce doses over time. This lessens the intensity of symptoms and reduces risk of serious complications like psychotic symptoms or seizure.
Indeed, the most difficult thing about quitting Adderall all at once can be the psychological symptoms. Because Adderall is a very addictive drug the FDA-required labeling for this medicine describes as a drug which causes “extreme psychological dependence.” So, when you stop Adderall cold turkey, you experience effects of acute withdrawal that are unnecessarily severe. In effect, you increase the risk of serious adverse side effects.
If you want to stop taking Adderall, talk to a doctor or a medical practitioner. S/He can help you decide if this is an option that can work and be helpful for you. At the least, experts suggest that you plan a tapering calendar to slowly reduce doses of Adderall over time. In fact, these WHO Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management suggest that cases of stimulant withdrawal be medically supervised.
Stopping Adderall includes risks. If you choose to go this route, it is important to know what can happen. Sometimes it can be hard to treat these risks because symptoms will come on quickly with little warning. Risks of quitting Adderall abruptly include:
- Cardiac arrest
- Depressed health rate
- Extreme fatigue
- Loss of consciousness
If you are worried about the risk of stopping Adderall suddenly, then perhaps you should try withdrawal while under medical supervision. A detox clinic can help address the risks that arise and help to treat them so your risk of seizing, depressed breathing, and coma is less likely. At the least, consult with you prescribing doctor and ask for a personalized tapering schedule as you come off Adderall. More guidelines for a safe withdrawal can be found in this SAMHSA Quick Guide on Detoxification Protocols.
Stimulant withdrawal is not usually associated with medical complications. Still, withdrawal always comes with consequences. Adderall detox can trigger:
- Feelings of depression.
- Suicidal thoughts.
For these reasons, it’s not a good idea to stop taking Adderall abruptly. Once you stop taking amphetamines, the brain and central nervous system are flooded with neurotransmitter chemicals that trigger “rebound” effects. You run the risk of health complications that can be dangerous, including seizures, extreme depression and paranoia.
In fact, the period of depression experienced by amphetamine users is often more prolonged and may be more intense than even cocaine withdrawal. For this reason, anyone who is quitting Adderall should be monitored closely during detoxification for signs of suicidal thinking and treated for depression if appropriate.
Who Can Go Cold Turkey?
It is never recommended that you quit Adderall cold turkey. But sometimes this process is necessary. Those who are best suited to stop taking Adderall suddenly are those who are on low doses of amphetamines for a period of a few months or less. It is also be best to be in optimum health and have no other health complication that will impact your ability to fend pathogens and heal your body. People who use or abuse Adderall for extended periods of time are not good candidates for abrupt cessasion of amphetamins.
You need as much help as you can get to help treat withdrawal. You can become really uncomfortable when you stop taking Adderall suddenly; the healthier you are, the better you can handle symptoms. A genuine desire to quit Adderall also needs to be present. Without this desire, it become harder to avoid relapse.
NOTE HERE: Adderall is a strong, powerful simulants. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the rate of psychostimulant-related deaths increased by three-fold from 1999 to 2005. Deaths declined from 2006-2008, but rose again in 2009.
What Does It Feel Like?
Quitting Adderall suddenly from a high dose, without gradually tapering off of the drug, might lead to an experience extreme depression, paranoia, and schizophrenia-like symptoms.
If you stop Adderall cold turkey, you can expect withdrawal to be intense, uncomfortable, and long lasting … taking you out of your normal everyday life. You can expect to feel the onset of Adderall withdrawal about 3-6 hours after the medication has left the system. Acute symptoms peak about 48 hours after cessation and can last in this intensity for another couple of days.
Other post-acute symptoms can take longer to resolve and you can expect to deal with Adderall withdrawal for several weeks after the last traces of amphetamine have left the system. Long past the initial withdrawal you may still have to deal with drug craving and psychological symptoms of withdrawal, as well as reoccurring symptoms of ADHD and issues with sleep.
Common symptoms of Adderall withdrawal include:
- Abdominal pain
- Drug craving
- Dysphoria (intense dissatisfaction with life)
- Increased heart rate
- Mood swings
No medication has yet been developed to help during Adderall detox. However, treatment can include symptomatic medication and supportive care. Symptomatic medications should be offered as required for aches, anxiety and other symptoms. Further, it is necessary that you drink at least 2-3 litres of water per day during stimulant withdrawal. Multivitamin supplements containing B group vitamins and vitamin C are also recommended.
Still, the most effective way to treat stimulant withdrawal involves establishing a period of abstinence. To achieve abstinence, people who are withdrawing from stimulants like Adderall should be monitored regularly. During withdrawal, your mental state should be monitored to detect complications such as psychosis, depression, and anxiety. People who exhibit severe psychiatric symptoms should be referred to a hospital for appropriate assessment and treatment.
Alternatives to Cold Turkey
Doctors don’t recommend that you ever stop Adderall cold turkey. In fact, withdrawal doesn’t have to be painful. Instead, experts feel that you should try to taper your dose of Adderall. Tapering down Adderall doses is a way to slowly decrease your Adderall use over time. This will help minimize the severity of the withdrawal. More ideas for how to come off Adderall safely are listed on this American Addiction Center guide to weaning off Adderall.
The process of tpaering can be slow, but you will not have to be out of commission for a long time during withdrawal. If you have to withdraw from Adderall, then make sure you plan for it. Get the materials you need to treat and ease the symptoms of withdrawal. And if you suspect you are addicted to Adderall, seek help from an addiction treatment facility to increase your chances of successfully quitting Adderall.
Section for Questions
Adderall is a highly addictive drug that has powerful effect over your mind and body. When considering a change in dosing, be prepared to face the Adderall crash. The crash can happen if you take very large doses of Adderall or come off of it too quickly. In order to avoid any dangers talk to your doctor about effective ways to stop taking Adderall.
If you have more questions, please leave them in the comments section below. We will get back to you as soon as we can.
Reference Sources: Education: Over-the-counter and prescription drugs
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.