The Adderall Crash: What Can I Do to Ease Adderall Withdrawal?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that impacts 6.1 million children and an estimated 8 million adults in the United States. Adderall is a prescription medication that is often prescribed to help treat the symptoms of ADHD; however, it also has a known risk for misuse and dependence — which can lead to withdrawal symptoms when use is cut back or suddenly stopped.
This article will explain what Adderall is, its side effects, risks of misuse, withdrawal symptoms, and how to get help if you or someone you care about is struggling with Adderall dependence or addiction.
What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a combination of amphetamine and dextroamphetamine that is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and narcolepsy.
Adderall comes in two different forms: Adderall IR (immediate release) and Adderall XR (extended release). There is also Mydayis (another extended release option), as well as generic options for both immediate release and extended release.
Adderall is classified as a central nervous system stimulant, and any amphetamine and dextroamphetamine combination products are deemed Schedule II drugs by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Schedule II drugs are considered to have medical uses but also to have a high potential for misuse and dependence. Adderall can only be legally obtained with a prescription.
Adderall Side Effects
Possible common side effects of Adderall include:
- Decreased appetite.
- Weight loss.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Dry mouth.
- Stomach pain.
- Mood swings.
Although there are warranted medical uses for stimulant medications, they are also misused by many. Based on the 2021 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it is estimated that about 3.7 million Americans ages 12 and up misused prescription stimulants in the past year, including both those who were prescribed the medication and those who obtain stimulants through other means.
Misuse includes using prescribed stimulants in larger amounts, more frequently, or longer than instructed; using prescribed stimulants in other ways not directed by the prescriber; or using stimulants that were not prescribed to that person. Misuse of Adderall and other prescription stimulants is especially common among young adults – it is estimated that over 2.5 million Americans aged 18 to 25 misused prescription stimulants in the past year.
One reason a person may misuse prescription stimulants is because they think it will help their cognitive abilities. Students may misuse them to help them study, work on projects, take tests, or otherwise try to improve their grades. Some older adults may try to enhance their memory by misusing stimulants. Other reasons may include trying to increase one’s energy, trying to stay awake, or seeking a “rush.”
Risks of Adderall Misuse
Misusing Adderall is especially dangerous for several reasons. When a person obtains an Adderall prescription, the prescriber carefully monitors the person for any adverse effects; if the person obtains Adderall without a prescription, no one is monitoring their health.
Additionally, a person who is misusing Adderall may be taking much higher doses than are prescribed, increasing the risk of dangerous adverse effects. High doses of prescription stimulants can cause:
- Heartbeat irregularities.
- Heart failure.
- Dangerous body temperatures.
Misusing prescription stimulants can lead to anger, psychosis, and paranoia. Furthermore, a person may think they’ve obtained Adderall from an illicit source, but it may be a different drug or mixed with a different drug, such as fentanyl, and therefore can have unpredictable, dangerous effects.
Possible symptoms of overdosing on a prescription stimulant include:
- Quick breathing.
- Overactive reflexes.
- Muscle weakness.
- Muscle pain.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Heart attack.
- Blood pressure changes.
- Inadequate blood circulation.
- Abdominal cramps.
Withdrawal from Adderall Misuse
Misuse of stimulants can result in a person developing a substance use disorder. Using stimulants for a long time, even when using them appropriately, can lead to a development of tolerance (the need to use more of the drug to get the same effect one got initially). A person may also develop dependence, where their body depends on the drug to function normally. If a person suddenly stops using prescription stimulants, they may go through withdrawal. This may include symptoms such as:
- Trouble sleeping.
It is important to remember that the “crash” a person may experience after discontinuing Adderall is only a temporary situation. However, even once any withdrawal symptoms resolve, a person may still experience cravings, especially when encountering triggers. This is why it is crucial to engage in a treatment program that helps patients develop coping strategies and relapse prevention plans, preparing them for long-term recovery.
Getting Help for Stimulant Dependence
For most individuals with a stimulant use disorder, stopping drug use and going through detoxification (if needed) is not enough for a lasting recovery. Anyone with a substance use disorder should seek treatment that fosters long-term recovery. Therapies that can help treat addiction to prescription stimulants include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help a person change unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and consequently change their feelings. CBT can help individuals addicted to prescription stimulants to better manage stress and triggers and to alter their expectations of drug use and their behaviors.
- Contingency management/motivational incentives: Contingency management involves giving individuals rewards or vouchers for desired behaviors, such as staying abstinent from drugs.
Here at Laguna Treatment Hospital, we know all too well how difficult it can be to get sober on your own. We believe everyone deserves the treatment they need to get on the road to recovery.
For more information about our different levels of addiction treatment, contact our helpful and knowledgeable admissions navigators at . They are on hand 24/7 to answer your questions about what to expect in addiction treatment, ways to pay for rehab — including using your insurance to pay for rehab — and help you start the admissions process.