Adderall is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant consisting of the generic drugs amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It’s used to mitigate hyperactivity and improve attention span. It’s typically prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy.
Abruptly discontinuing Adderall can cause a “crash” or “comedown,” which causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including headaches, sleep difficulties, depression, and sluggishness. If you want or need to stop using this medication, you need to be supervised by your doctor and be aware of other side effects of Adderall use.
The Adderall Crash
Adderall is a stimulant, so it can leave individuals feeling sluggish and disconnected when effects subside. If you suddenly stop taking it “cold turkey,” you may have temporary withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms of withdrawal or crash may include:
- Intense Adderall cravings
- Sleep disturbances
- Intense hunger
- Anxiety and irritability
- Panic attacks
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Suicidal ideations
When your doctor prescribes a CNS stimulant like Adderall, he or she will likely start you with a relatively low dosage which may be increased gradually as needed to produce the desired effect. In doing so, the individual takes the lowest possible dosage to treat their condition.
A lower dosage is less likely to induce withdrawal symptoms when drug use is discontinued. Taking the drug at regular intervals can also help reduce the risk of adverse side effects. If Adderall is taken too late in the day, it might be challenging to fall asleep or remain asleep.
Not everyone experiences a crash when they stop using Adderall. Slowly weaning off of Adderall under a health provider’s supervision may allow a person to avoid it altogether. Withdrawal symptoms tend to be worse for individuals who abuse Adderall or take it in excessive doses.
Dealing With the Crash
If you do have withdrawal symptoms following cessation of Adderall, consult your health provider. There’s a reasonably high risk of returning to drug use or abuse in the first days after discontinuing the medication. Your doctor will likely want to supervise you while tapering off the drug and watch for signs of depression and suicidal thoughts. If you experience severe depression, your health provider may prescribe you antidepressants.
Unfortunately, at this time, there are no specific drugs that can effectively treat withdrawal from amphetamine. How long the withdrawal symptoms last largely depends on your dosage and how long you’ve been using the medication. Symptoms may persist anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
Eating healthy foods and engaging in regular exercise may help relieve withdrawal symptoms. For those who experience sleep difficulties, devising and adhering to a regular sleep schedule may be beneficial. Try to go to sleep and get up at the exact times each day. Engaging in a calming activity the hour before bedtime tends to help people fall asleep. Also, make sure your bedroom is at a comfortable temperature, and turn off electronics before going to bed.
How Adderall Works
Adderall works by boosting the effects of the neurochemicals dopamine and adrenaline in the brain. By intensifying these effects, alertness and concentration are increased.
Adderall is a powerful drug, and in some instances, it can cause severe side effects. Adderall can also be habit-forming, and for this reason, it is classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a controlled substance. It has a high potential for abuse and dependence, and it should never be taken without a prescription, as doing so without a doctor’s supervision can be hazardous.
Despite this warning, Adderall abuse is not rare. Many students use it to boost academic performance, and shift workers may use it to stay awake and alert for long periods. However, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens, studies show that this doesn’t work for students diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. And yet, many continue to abuse this medication.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 6.4% of full-time college students used Adderall for non-medical purposes without a prescription. At the same time, other research has reported that the number is closer to 30% of college students. The likelihood of having an Adderall crash is more significant for those who do not use the drug under a doctor’s supervision.
Other Side Effects of Adderall
Adderall causes side effects other than withdrawal or such as feelings of euphoria and elation at excessive dosages, which can lead to overuse, dependence, and addiction. Other side effects of using Adderall at a high dosage include the following:
- Severe dermatosis
- Personality changes
In extreme instances, Adderall can cause psychosis and sudden cardiac arrest. These effects are more likely at excessive doses. However, there have been reports of these problems happening at standard dosages, too.
Use At Prescription Dosages
Like many drugs, Adderall can cause side effects even when used as prescribed. It tends to cause different side effects in different age groups.
In children 6-12 years old, side effects may include the following:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
In teenagers, the most common side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
Side effects in adults may include:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Dry mouth
- Rapid heart rate
- Urinary tract infections
Also, taking Adderall while pregnant can cause premature birth or low birth weight. Adderall may have adverse interactions with other medications. Tell your health provider about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs or supplements you take. Never take more than is prescribed and or without a prescription for a legitimate medical need.
Before Quitting, Consult With a Health Provider or Addiction Specialist
Adderall is a potent drug that can cause severe effects, including headaches and many unwanted symptoms. A crash can happen when a person uses too much Adderall or weans themselves off of it too rapidly. Talk to your doctor to learn effective ways to quit taking the drug. Using this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor can help prevent the crash.
Getting Help for Drug Dependence and Abuse
Even persons who take Adderall for a legitimate medical purpose can become dependent and find it difficult to quit or cut back if they want. Those who misuse or abuse Adderall for recreational purposes will likely find this even more challenging.
Just Believe Recovery Center offers hope for those trying to give up using intoxicating drugs or alcohol for good. Our multi-faceted, integrated programs feature a wide variety of corrective therapies and services, including psychotherapy, counseling, group support, relapse prevention, aftercare planning, and more.