Table of Contents
Written by Amethyst Recovery
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What Is Adderall?
Adderall is a brand-name, prescription drug. It’s classified as an amphetamine and is a central nervous system stimulant.
Adderall is one of the most commonly prescribed amphetamines and is a schedule II controlled substance. This indicates its approved medical uses, but also the potential for it to be habit-forming. Physical dependence is possible with Adderall as well. If someone is dependent on Adderall, they may need a supervised detox as they go through withdrawal.
The primary reason Adderall is prescribed is to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In some cases, it is also used to treat narcolepsy, which is a sleep disorder. There are immediate and extended-release versions of Adderall. Dosages typically vary from 5 to 30 milligrams.
Use & Misuse
When someone uses Adderall as prescribed, the side effects should be fairly minimal. It primarily improves focus and concentration, although it may cause problems with sleeping and eating patterns. Adderall is, however, frequently abused recreationally.
When someone recreationally abuses Adderall, it can trigger feelings of euphoria and confidence. It can help a person to feel energetic and invincible, and it can also create an intense concentration. For these reasons, it’s often used as a drug to enhance performance at school or work.
The Risks of Adderall Abuse
“Adderall is abused mostly by college students and young adults. Estimates are that somewhere between 20-30 percent of college student regularly abuse Adderall,” according to Dr. Donald Ricker and Dr. Venus Nicolino, HuffPost contributors.
While Adderall abuse may be common, particularly among young people, that doesn’t mean it isn’t dangerous. Adderall stimulates the entire central nervous system along with flooding the brain with artificially high levels of the chemical dopamine. That dopamine is responsible for the high people experience with Adderall.
Potential Deadly Side Effects
When the CNS is stimulated by Adderall, it can cause serious cardiovascular problems. One of the deadliest potential effects of Adderall abuse is a heart attack. Strokes are also possible, and the risk of serious heart issues is higher when Adderall is combined with other substances such as alcohol.
When someone recreationally abuses Adderall, it can cause serious psychological symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. The potential for an addiction to form is also a risk of Adderall abuse.
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When the brain is exposed to a substance like amphetamine repeatedly, it’s going to become used to the functionality of that drug. The brain and body adjust to the repeated use of Adderall, and eventually, see the presence of the drug as the new normal. The brain and body of the user can have a difficult time adjusting to functioning without Adderall once a dependence develops.
If someone is dependent and they suddenly stop using Adderall, their body is going to go into a type of shock as it tries to readjust and re-stabilize without the substance. The effects of this attempted re-stabilization are known as withdrawal. Drug withdrawal symptoms occur when someone’s brain and physical functions are struggling to keep up without the help of the Adderall.
Adderall withdrawal can be uncomfortable and in some cases dangerous. Even when a person is prescribed Adderall, their doctor is likely going to have them gradually lower their dose rather than stopping suddenly. This is called tapering down, and it can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and their severity.
The Adderall Crash
There are two different components of Adderall detox and withdrawal. First, there is a crash. Then, there is an actual withdrawal.
A crash from Adderall can happen even if someone isn’t dependent on it, or has only used it once. The Adderall crash is similar to a crash from cocaine. It occurs as the effects of the drug are wearing off. Often, symptoms of an Adderall crash are rebound symptoms, meaning they are the exact opposite of the symptoms of using the drug.
An Adderall crash may include symptoms like:
- Anxiety or panic
- Loss of interest
- Increased appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Vivid dreams
Many of the Adderall withdrawal symptoms may be similar to the crash phase, but they tend to last longer.
Withdrawal symptoms can include fatigue and exhaustion, depression, and increased sleep, however, it’s not good quality sleep in many cases. Other symptoms can include concentration issues and mood swings.
Adderall Withdrawal Timeline
As was touched on above, the Adderall crash begins as soon as the effects of the drug start to wear off. With an immediate-release version of Adderall, this can be within a few hours.
Then, anywhere from one to three days after the last dose is used, actual withdrawal symptoms may occur. The earliest withdrawal symptoms are usually fatigue and depression. Then, within a few days, other symptoms of Adderall withdrawal may appear.
These can include:
- Body aches
- Increased appetite
- Severe mood swings
- Continuing sleep problems
The Adderall withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from 7 to 10 days. For long-term users, the withdrawal symptoms can go on for weeks or even as long as a month. During this time people are likely to experience primarily psychological symptoms and cravings.
For most people, mood-related withdrawal symptoms will start to get better within one to three months after the last dose is used.
Factors That Affect Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Certain factors can make Adderall withdrawal more severe or cause symptoms to last longer. These factors might include:
- The length of time someone has used Adderall
- The dosage the person regularly used
- Whether extended-release Adderall was being used
- If other substances were being used simultaneously
- The person’s underlying physical and mental health
- How the Adderall was being used—for example, was it being snorted or injected?
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For people who are seeking treatment for Adderall addiction, their treatment program might begin with a supervised detox.
There are ways to make this time more bearable. Along with mental and physical health monitoring, an Adderall detox might also include steps to mitigate drug cravings.
The medical detox team will work to help create a calm, peaceful environment that’s conducive to better quality sleep and relaxation. It’s also important that a person receive a healthy diet and plenty of hydration during this time, so this could be a key part of an Adderall detox program.
To learn more about Adderall withdrawal and Adderall detox programs, as well as addiction treatment, contact our team at Amethyst Recovery Center.
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