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How to Stop Taking Adderall


ARICLE SUMMARY: The safest way to stop taking Adderall is by tapering with the supervision of a medical professional. In fact, specific detox protocols can help minimize withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes medical detox or a stay in rehab is necessary.


TABLE OF CONTENTS


 

What Happens When You Stop

After taking Adderall daily for a few weeks or more, the central nervous system must adapt. In fact, you can become dependent on Adderall after regular dosing, making it hard to quit without experiencing debilitating side effects.

When you have been taking Adderall in high doses or for long periods of time, your body becomes used to functioning with the drug in your system. In order to compensate for the stimulant properties of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine, your brain “slows down” some body processes in order to maintain homeostasis. It needs to adapt in order to operate.

So, when you stop the intake of Adderall, your brain is still operating in its “adjusted mode”. You will experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms as your brain returns to a “normal”, chemical-free state. Note here that a physical dependence on Adderall will simply involve unpleasant physical symptoms, but an addiction will cause you to experience painful cravings for Adderall as well.

Can I Just Stop?

No, it’s not a good idea to quit taking Adderall without medical consultation. Why?

Adderall is made of amphetamine salts. This psychoactive medicine stimulates the central nervous system and paradoxically calms the brain when it’s used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, regular dosing can lead to drug dependence…even if you’re taking it as prescribed.

It’s just not a good idea to quit suddenly or abruptly. Adderall causes strong withdrawal symptoms, so you may end up taking it again in order to alleviate the discomfort. Plus, addictive is fairly Adderall?  Very. In fact, the FDA approved label for Adderall warns:

Amphetamines have a high potential for abuse. Administration of amphetamines for prolonged periods of time may lead to drug dependence.

If you have an Adderall addiction, just stopping the drug doesn’t address the underlying psychological reasons you feel compelled to seek out the drug. While some people may be able to quit through sheer force of will, quitting Adderall all at once is difficult and not possible for everyone.

Withdrawal

Most people will develop a physical dependence on Adderall after taking amphetamine and dextroamphetamine for about 2-3 weeks on a daily basis. Stopping Adderall can cause a number of severe withdrawal effects, as your brain responds to the lack of stimulating chemicals. The symptoms are varied and can include:

  • Abnormal lack of energy
  • Anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure)
  • Brain fog
  • Catnapping
  • Cravings
  • Depression
  • Disorientation
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disorders

Withdrawal effects may be worse if you’ve taken Adderall over long periods. For instance, if you take the medicine over the course of several years as part of a treatment for ADHD. If you want to learn when withdrawal symptoms occur in the timeline of withdrawal, this visual presentation may help you.

Abrupt Cessation

If you stop taking Adderall suddenly, you’re probably going to feel miserable. Adderall should always be gradually tapered, instead, to avoid the worst of the withdrawal effects. When you stop taking Adderall suddenly, it makes it more likely you will relapse, since you may be tempted to take it again to help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal.

NOTE HERE: Quitting any stimulant drug can cause suicidal thinking, paranoia, or manic states. This is why medical supervision is critical any time you want to quit a drug like Adderall.

Stopping cold turkey isn’t easy and is not the best option for many people, especially people who are taking Adderall under a doctor’s direction. However, if you abuse Adderall recreationally, you may find it impossible to gradually reduce the amounts you’re taking. You might also experience serious adverse effects and need to quit Adderall immediately for health reasons.

If you decide to quit Adderall cold turkey and are dealing with addiction, you need to see a therapist or doctor to discuss treatment options. Getting help for your possible addiction is the best way to make sure you can quit any drug for good.

Medical Detox

Some people can benefit from checking in to an inpatient detox clinic as they get off Adderall. Medical detox centers offer symptom-based treatments, emotional support, and psychological support. Staff can guide you through dealing with early cravings, sleeping problems, and fatigue…three hallmark symptoms of withdrawal. Furthermore, you can benefit from 24-7 medical supervision, especially helpful in cases of psychosis.

Here are the following steps you can expect in a medical detox:

Step 1: Assessment.

The first thing that you will do in detox is completion of paperwork. You can also expect to participate in an hour of discussion. Also, you may be asked to give a sample for a drug test. This first assessment helps professionals create the services for your individual care.

Step 2: Clinical Assessment.

The second step is your clinical assessment. You will talk with detox supervisors. Trained staff will take your medical history, complete an evaluation, and conduct a physical examination. Moreover, nurses will obtain prescriptions in case of the need for antidepressants or anti-psychotic medications is required.

Step 3: Tapering. 

Tapering schedules set the time period for reduction of dosages. These protocols are started based on doctor’s orders.

Step 4: Transition.

The last step of medical detox is transition to additional medical treatment. If you can benefit from rehab, a detox clinic can refer you to partnering programs. These programs will help you learn to live without drugs, and will help you prevent relapse. However, no one can make you continue with treatment. You have to want to enroll yourself.

The Safe Way to Stop

The safest way to stop taking Adderall is by consulting a doctor and following his or her instructions. Tapering is critical. In fact, this 2010 article “Potential adverse effects of discontinuing psychotropic drugs” reports the importance of tapering stimulant medications; it can truly avoid or minimize the potential withdrawal symptoms.

In sum, the safest way to quit amphetamines is to slowly reduce the daily dose over the course of several weeks. But, you may also need psychological support to stop taking this medication.


The course of a tapering schedule and its length depends on a person’s individual response to dosage reduction.


Tapering

Tapering is the medical term for gradually reducing your daily dose of a medicine over the course of several weeks. The tapering period lasts until the user has stopped taking the medication completely. How long does it take?

According to this study made by The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) gradual decreasing the daily dose by 0.05 mg every 3-4 days is recommended to stop Adderall safely.

The practice of slow reduction of daily dosage over a scheduled period of time should be custom-made or individualized for you. In fact, most tapering schedules are individualized depending on the level of drug dependence and a patient’s general health. This means that one tapering schedule may be good for one individual, but may not work for other.  A doctor will be able to help you develop a plan which will be safe and minimize your discomfort as your body adjusts.

What’s Next?

STEP 1: Admit you need help. The first step to getting off Adderall is to accept the fact that you can’t do it alone. Get honest with yourself. If you admit your problem and ask for professional help, you’ll be able to resolve the issue quickly and safely.

STEP 2: Identify the main reasons to change. Second, find the motivation for change. Quitting Adderall does not happen overnight. So, you’ll need to return to your reasons for quitting again and again. Write them down and share them with your doctor.

STEP 3: Ask for help. Drug dependence is managed medically, so don’t wait for things to get worse, seek help. There are numerous people who can help you. Who can you ask?

  • Addiction rehabs
  • Psychologists
  • Psychiatrist
  • Detox clinics
  • Doctors
  • Pharmacists

When to Call a Professional

Always call your doctor when you want to quit Adderall because s/he is the one who prescribed the medication. Together, you can plan an individualized tapering schedule.

Also know that Adderall has addictive potential. So, call a medical professional anytime you think you may have a problem.

Are you alone in this?

Not at all! The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that in 2016, an estimated 540,000 people aged 12 or older had a stimulant use disorder in the past year. The division into age group is:

  • aged 12 to 17 56,000 adolescents.
  • aged 18 to 25 170,000 young adults.
  • aged 26 or older 315,000 adults.

Moreover, a 2012 study published in the Journal of American College health states that two-thirds of college students were offered Adderall and other Rx stimulants by their senior year.

According to data from the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), the number of emergency department (ED) visits related to nonmedical use of CNS stimulants, including Adderall, among adults aged 18 to 34 increased from 5,605 in 2005 to 22,949 in 2011.

So, Adderall is not as safe as you might think.

Do I Have a Problem?

If you are not sure if you have a drug problem, or not, be honest about your use:

  • Do you get a euphoric feeling from Adderall?
  • Do you think about Adderall all the time?
  • Is it becoming difficult to hide your use?
  • Is Adderall use negatively affecting your life?

Did you answered more questions with ‘YES’? Then, you may have a problem, and it’s about time to call a professional. Also, check out this Drug Screening Tool by NIDA to assess a potential substance abuse problem.

Is Rehab for Me?

A rehab stay can help deal with chronic use or misuse. Staff will help you identify the main reasons why you have become addicted in the first place. But, the most important thing is that you will learn how to live without Adderall.

What options are out there? You’ll need to decide what kind of program will you enroll into: inpatient or outpatient.

On the one hand, residential inpatient rehab provides 24/7 medical supervision. During your stay, you will live at the facility where constant care is provided. The most common inpatient services include:

  • Individual and group therapy sessions
  • Educational classes
  • Community support

On the other hand, outpatient rehab provides similar services, but patients don’t live at the facility. They come for a few hours, several days per week. During these visitation hours, an addiction counselor check up with the patients, and leads the therapies. This program is more flexible since it allows patients continue with their daily obligations.

Q: So, is rehab for you?

A: Ask for an addiction assessment. The results will help you determine what kind of treatment (if any) is needed.

Ask a Question

Do you still have questions about taking Adderall? Please leave your questions below in the comments section below. We are happy to help answer your questions, or refer you to someone who can.

Reference Sources: PubMed: Treatment for amphetamine withdrawal
DrugFacts: Stimulant ADHD Medications – Methylphenidate and Ampetamines
SAMHSA: Nonmedical use of Adderall among Full-Time College Students
NHTSA: Methamphetamine and Amphetamine

Leave a Reply

23 Responses to “How to Stop Taking Adderall
powpursuits
2:41 pm October 5th, 2012

I found trazadone and naltrexone helpful for stopping adderrall with minimal discomfort. Trazadone restores the ability to sleep and is an effective anti-depressant. Naltrexone tapers cravings and impulsiveness and also attenuates the effects of amphetamine should one relapse.

1:28 pm October 17th, 2012

Hello powpursuits. Thanks for sharing your experiences here!

snailinit
7:54 am December 6th, 2012

I have just quit 30mg instant release for ADHD. I also Have depression and anxiety. I have quit cold turkey, I just moved out of state and do not have insurance. I have not had negative side effects while on it but have noticed that I am not the same person.I was on them for 2 years. I was and really do not feel the effects do that much for me for it to be worth taking narcotics. The problem is i am going crazy now.I am very emotional and every time I think about things I need to do I have panic attacks. My Fiance and I were talking about dinner and I freaked so bad because we didn’t have everything we needed to make a well rounded meal that I started crying and screaming and finally banged my head into the wall until I calmed down I now have a goose egg on my forehead.After I calmed down I couldn’t remember what really set me off. I keep justifying my thoughts but I dont know what is okay to feel and what isn’t. I have a daughtery and if I stay like this I will lose them both. On the other hand if I go back on the Addarall I feel like I will slip farther from reality. Can you offer any comments or advice? Is this normal? I have been of for three days.

12:36 pm December 8th, 2012

Hi snailnit. Psychotic episodes have been reported as a side effect to quitting Adderall cold turkey. You really need to withdraw using a tapering schedule to slowly reduce amounts of amphetamine in your system over the course of many weeks. I’d suggest that you seek a prescription and tapering calendar from a doctor ASAP. Then, with gradual and scheduled decreases in dosing you can experience a much less severe and more comfortable withdrawal phase.

Ant
5:56 pm July 1st, 2013

I am on Adderal 30mg time release twice a day and Viibryd @ 40 mg per day. I came off Adderal for the weekend and just had a series of random night terrors that absolutely scared me almost to death. Not sure if it is stopping the adderal or stopping it combined with the viibryd.Spent the rest of Sunday/Monday half psychotic half dream like state.

Ant
6:03 pm July 1st, 2013

I am 48 and suffer from PTSD and severe social anxiety and depression. The dread I had was the worst. Something along the lines of swimming in the ocean only to look up and see a Dorsal fin of a Great White coming towards you. Absolute frozen could not yell or move but wife was next to me sleeping yet both were so real.

6:42 pm July 1st, 2013

Hello Ant. I’d suggest that you speak with a psychologist or psychiatrist who can help you. Both cognitively and possibly with the pharmacological aspect of weaning off and tapering down doses of Adderall rather than stopping cold turkey. But either way, it seems that you do need medical advice.

Ant
11:16 pm July 1st, 2013

Oh ,under current advice from MD. Just ur audience seems to be young. I am 48 with combat exp ,which you will see more of, especially if they are self med. Of all the shit I have been thru ,seen and done this combo seems to be one very very sensitive mixture. I know everyones body chems are different but the psychosis was so immersive ;like watching yourself watching yourself go insane with the added horror of paralysis. Be careful my friends!

carrie culp
10:14 am October 6th, 2013

I’m a 35 yr old female. With major depression,PTSD,major anxiety for about 5 years now. I take xanax 1mg pills 3 times a day, adderall 20mg 4 times a day. Well all the sudden the nurse at my therapist cut me down xanax by trying to make me take 6 1mg the fist few days. I would be in the hospital if i did take take that much.

then the adderall they took me off 80mg a day to 10mg once a day.

This nurse is shady. I need some advice? Please Help

doxie
12:17 am September 24th, 2014

my dr took me off adderrall he just thought I shouldnt be on it fir long period of time didnt say anthing about doung it gradually Today I had horruble side effects, panic, anxietysweating depression etc. Doctor had after hours number but it was disconnected. Feeling better after taking restless leg med and amitriptalin

frita
12:35 am October 3rd, 2014

I have had the numbness and muscle spasms, alternating constipation and diarrhea, unexplained nausea, hallucinations when overtired, excessive tongue chewing, dry mouth, extreme decrease in ability to have an orgasm, extreme leg pain, arm pain, just to name a few. When I first started taking adderall I reviewed the possible side effect but since I wasn’t having any of them I forgot about them. But as I have sought answers to my issues I realize I should have paid more attention. My regular doctor has had my nerves tested twice and had a stress test done and all have been negative. He thought my symptoms pointed to a nerve problem. My sleep doctor believed I was having sleep paralysis and the tongue chewing was something I would have to live with. Someone finally said that “adderall, that stuff will hype you up but then the tiredness is extreme. Hum. I don’t remember that. So I reviewed my information on adderall and did an internet search. I really need to either stop taking it (back to no life again) or decrease my dosage. Will talk the sleep doctor bout this. Either way I will need to be off work for a while. Oh and for a while people at work tip-toed around me. I am ashamed of that. But they remembered who I used to be. Better now. But it required more medication. Dog chasing it’s tail syndrome.

Titor
6:53 am October 8th, 2014

I’ve taken Adderall for six years now. I started when I was in college because I just couldn’t keep track everything. I was taking 15 hours at a major University while also trying to raise a child. I spoke to my PCP, who had been my doctor since the age of 8, and he recommended that we try it. I had previously suffered from bouts of major depression and panic attacks throughout most of my young adult life, but I had beaten antidepressants after taking them on and off for 5-6 years. I tried everything, and I mean everything. From Zoloft to Paxil to Cymbalta to Seroquel to Vibryd to you name it. We tried every SSRI on the market. Some worked, some didn’t. The ones that did came with intolerable side effects. One day, after having been on one of these successfully for a good stint, is when I finally decided that I didn’t want to take them anymore. I spoke to my doctor about it and we weened me from the medicine properly. It was shortly after that that he addressed my ADHD (which is a real thing). He suggested we start me on a small dose of Adderall to see how and if it would help me. Well, man did it ever. Not only did it help subside my what had now become manageable depression, but it allowed me the ability to get up in the morning, get to class, and be the very best student that I could possibly be. I didn’t feel “super” by any means, but that following semester I made the Deans List and also made Psy Kai Honor Roll in my Universities Psychology Program for the first time. I was a sophomore at the time. My grades and study habits improved so greatly, that students on campus were coming to me for tutoring, offering me money to write papers for them, always wanting to join my study group. The medicine not only improved my ability to focus on what was important, but it also helped me to feel confident engaging my fellow undergrads. I never partied or attended keggers. Nor did I squander away the money that I was paying out of my own pocket by neglecting my responsibilities. I was the guy in the library on Friday night. I was the guy studying for Neuroanatomy tests 2 weeks ahead of the scheduled exam. I never abused my medicine, and I worked with my doctor at every follow up to properly come to the right dose of meds for me. One thing that I did notice was that my tolerance level continued to go up. This of course meant that my dose had to increase about every 6-9 months after the first year of my initial RX and dosing. What started at 5mg x2 per day eventually (now) had ended up at 45mg per day total of Gen Adderall IR. I was and still am taking 2mg per day of Generic Canal along with the Adderall. Now, a lot of my positive experience has come from not only working with my doctor and being honest with him about any changes (this is key), but also researching the medicines that are prescribed to me BY PHARM COMPANY AND MANUFACTURER. This is imperative, and it is very easy to do. Take your pills and ID them on a Pill ID website. It will give you the PHARM Company name. You can then research where it is made and what % of the actual medicine is in what you are taking. Sometimes pharm companies will add fillers as they are not required by FDA to include more than a certain % of the actual medicine in generic form. So, you may only end up with a medicine that you need that is only actually comprised of 70% of what you’re actually prescribed. The rest is filler stuff that might not be good for you. This happened to me one time when my pharmacy changed pharmaceutical companies for both of my meds. After doing the research I brought it to the attention of the pharmacy, and they now actually order my specific medicine from a pharmaceutical company that I know manufactures a medicine that works for me. Many people don’t know that a pharmacy will or can do this, but if they care about your well being, they will. If they don’t, change pharmacies. With all of this being said, it not only takes the meds that you are prescribed working for you, but it also helps to take a daily vitamin regiment, exercise, and eat right. If you find you have no appetite then replace your meals with protein shakes or meal replacement powders. They pack in calories, carbs, protein, and vital nutrients to feed your body, even when you don’t feel like it’s necessary. Also, try your best to get optimal amounts of “REST”. Not just sleep, but “Rest”. This means just closing your eyes and mediating for 20 or 30 mins. Find a quiet place and let your mind relax from all of the anxiety and overwhelming thoughts. These extra steps are so crucial to combating the disorder that we live with. As I stated before, I’ve been taking Adderall prescribed since 2008, and I have yet to experience many side effects other than some extra fatigue on the weekends (when I don’t take my full doseage), suppressed appetite sometimes, and some slight insomnia of I take my second dose too late in the day. I always try to eat a big meal BEFORE I take my med. This is an important step that many people overlook. You’d be surprised how much of a factor poor nutrition can have on how you feel. I just had a follow up with my Doc yesterday, and we’ve discussed reducing my dose simply bc I feel like im ready. That is one of the most important things to remember. You have to be ready and you have to WANT to get off of the medicine. Frame of mind is everything when approaching such a monumental task. I wish myself good luck bc I know it will not be easy, and I wish all of you the best of luck as well.

kittycat
11:22 pm October 11th, 2014

Well I’m 19 and i have add and i put on adderall and everything was great and I I stopped using it a year ago and a few days ago I got put back on it . Well since I been on it again I been having lots of side effects more then I ever had . like can’t sleep, dry mouth , talk more then regular, high pulse,neverness , mood swings , shakiness, nausea, and random heat flashes in my face but feet are really cold and last lost of appreciate. Well please let me know why this is happening to me or any ideas I would really appreciate it thank you so much .

1:26 pm October 17th, 2014

Hi Kittycat. It’s best to make an appointemnt with your doctor. If you are continuousley feeling side-effects, you shouldn’t wait or ignore them.

Matt
11:24 am January 23rd, 2015

I go off 90-120 mg of IR Adderall all the time and all it does is make me hyper and loud and hungry. I have done this with Adderall and Dexedrine at doses of this level since I was 9 or 10 years old.

Kelly
3:07 pm March 18th, 2016

i have taken 30 adderall for 5 years, been off cold turkey for 8 days now, has anyone ever quit successfully, if so how long before things (my brain) gets better. it has been bad.

Dana
11:41 pm June 28th, 2016

I have been on Adderall for about a year; my doctor said she was giving me the highest dose that was legal – I never really checked that out, At first it worked great, now even when I take an extra pill (I am on 30mg 2xday) I fall asleep. They no longer do anything for me but I am afraid ti tell her that because she will just start to take me off. I am afraid I will be even worse off it. I have end stages COPD/EMPYSEMA and I could do nothing but sleep constantly. That in turn made me very depressed, more so then ever because 1st of all I am wondering how much time on this planet I have left, and I have no family that is living except my daughter and I don’t want to scare her. Any clue how to get this med to wok again??? like taking something with it or something. She, the doctor, did not even tell me this was addictive. I am so tired half the time I am fighting not to pass out I am so tirredl Any ideas?

Kim
4:58 pm April 9th, 2017

I have only been taking several 11 days it does me no good. Will i have withdraws if I quit cold turkey or do you have advice.

Jo
3:52 pm August 15th, 2017

Started adderall 12 years ago. It was prescribed by psychiatrist to help cymbalta boost my mood. My cocktail for major depression was (beginning 30 mg cymbalta and 20 mg Adderall and ending with 60 mg cymbalta and 60 mg adderall.). I am 65 years old and stopped 30 mg of cymbalta a year ago. Two months ago I started weaning myself off of Adderall by reducing 1/2 to 1/4 every two weeks until presently. I am now taking 1/2 adderall per day with 20 mg of cymbalta. My psychoanalyst is aware of this but not my psychiatrist (who is a P.A). Have all but quit my hourly job since about two weeks ago. Seeing a nutritionist for 3mos and based upon results of Silav, urine and blood tests, taking a load of vitamins and minerals after a detox. What else can I do to speed this withdrawal process up or have you any idea how much longer I will be in withdrawal? I am seeing (every now and then) a faint light of hope, but I think it’s just while the 10 mg of adderall is still in my system. Please help if you can. Thank you for your time. Jo

Shannon
2:15 pm September 2nd, 2017

When I first went to my doctors I told him I didn’t want anything addictive. He gave me adderall. He didn’t explain it to or anything. He started out at 20mg X-ray then I went back to him after a month and told him it didn’t last long then he prescribed me 30mg X-ray and. Went back to him and told him it wore off by noon and and I was sluggish cause I work like 16 hr days cause I landscape so he added an extra regular 10mg. I been on this for about 2 1/2 yrs now and when I told him that I was thinking about getting off of it he told me to just quit taking it that it wasn’t addictive. And I can’t just quit taking it. Is there anything I can do?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:13 pm September 12th, 2017

Hi Shannon. Adderall is addictive. First, I suggest to speak with another doctor, who can also help you plan an individualized tapering schedule.

Shannon
2:25 pm September 2nd, 2017

When I first went to my doctors I told him I didn’t want anything addictive. He gave me adderall. He didn’t explain it to or anything. He started out at 20mg X-ray then I went back to him after a month and told him it didn’t last long then he prescribed me 30mg X-ray and. Went back to him and told him it wore off by noon and and I was sluggish cause I work like 16 hr days cause I landscape so he added an extra regular 10mg. I been on this for about 2 1/2 yrs now and when I told him that I was thinking about getting off of it he told me to just quit taking it that it wasn’t addictive. And I can’t just quit taking it. Is there anything I can do? And I thought about just not taking the adderall and take a few hits off a joint a day to see if it would help me get off adderall. Will it?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
1:36 pm September 7th, 2017

Hi Shannon. Adderall can lead to dependency and addiction. I suggest that you consult with another doctor. The best way to stop taking Adderall is to gradually reduce your daily dose over the course of several weeks. A doctor will be able to help you develop a plan which will be safe and minimize your discomfort as your body adjusts

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