Adderall is a potent stimulant commonly prescribed for conditions such as Attention-Deficit Disorder (ADHD) or narcolepsy. Its active ingredients are amphetamines, well-known stimulants that trigger dopamine production in the brain, causing alertness, increased focus, and energy.

Adderall is also a highly addictive drug, owing largely to its stimulating and mood-altering properties. It is the most prescribed amphetamine in the U.S. and its widespread use among college students as a recreational drug and performance enhancer means it also has high abuse rates.

Luckily, there are plenty of options when it comes to recovering from Adderall addiction. In this article, we cover the typical symptoms encountered during Adderall withdrawal and the timelines for recovery. We also address the range of treatment options available.

How Do You Treat Adderall Withdrawal?

Eliminating an addiction to Adderall involves multiple stages of rehabilitation that target the physical, psychological, and emotional causes of abuse. However, the first stage is to detox from the drug itself. This requires an individual to stop taking Adderall, and this is best done through medically supervised detox.

During detox, an individual will experience withdrawal symptoms which can vary between each person. This is also dependent on several factors such as:

  • Levels of tolerance
  • Individual physiology
  • Duration of use
  • Dose and frequency of use
  • “Poly-drug use” (using multiple drugs at once)
  • Co-occurring condition or mental health issues

Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms


Because Adderall alters the functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain, sudden discontinuation can create several symptoms. Generally, these consist of cravings, fatigue, and mood disturbances.

The symptoms are usually predictable and can include the following:

  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Oversleeping
  • Insomnia
  • Increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Achiness
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

Adderall Withdrawal Timeline

Individuals who have abused Adderall or other stimulants tend to consume the drug in larger quantities over time, or they use it longer than intended. These factors affect the severity of the withdrawal process. To complicate matters further, withdrawal can be affected by other factors such as:

  • Other drugs that were taken
  • The length of use
  • The dose taken
  • Co-occurring mental health issues (e.g. anxiety or depression)
  • Co-occurring physical health conditions

While the duration of symptoms will vary from person to person, an approximate withdrawal timeline can look like the following:

First Phase

The first phase of Adderall withdrawal can occur as early as a few hours after the last dose. The symptoms are similar to other stimulants in that individuals are likely to experience anxiety, depression, and fatigue as the drug wears off.

Second Phase

The second phase of withdrawal usually occurs between days 3 to 5 when symptoms intensify. During this time, individuals can experience:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Nightmares

Third Phase

The third phase can occur between 5 and 7 days will vary depending on the severity of Adderall use. Symptoms typically start to decrease, but individuals have also reported moodiness and an inability to function socially during this time. Other symptoms such as depression can continue but are usually less severe.

Fourth Phase

Some individuals have reported withdrawal symptoms for as long as 3 to 4 weeks after their last dose. This typically occurs with individuals who have a high tolerance to Adderall and have been taking the drug for longer than a year.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

If withdrawal symptoms last longer than a few weeks, this is referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The PAWS period differs depending on the drug. For Adderall, the psychological effects can lead to risky behavior and other symptoms like:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Cravings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances

Is Adderall Withdrawal Dangerous?


Adderall withdrawal is less dangerous than other drugs like methamphetamines, but there are risks involved. The primary concerns when it comes to detoxing from Adderall are relapses and mood alteration. Other risks include:

  • Injuries or accidents: Withdrawal from Adderall can result in increased fatigue and sleepiness. Therefore, driving or activities that require concentration can be a struggle.
  • Severe depression: One of the main withdrawal symptoms from Adderall is depression, which can become severe, especially for individuals who have underlying mental health issues.
  • Suicidal ideation: In severe cases, Adderall can lead to suicidal thoughts and behaviors. As the withdrawal period is often characterized by depression, increased agitation, and anxiety, it’s best to be monitored in a safe environment.

There are other long-term health complications associated with Adderall, and these will depend on several factors such as the duration and intensity of use.

Adderall Treatment Programs


The good news is that treatment for Adderall addiction is available. While every individual is unique and will have different needs, many centers provide tailored recovery plans. Below is a list of the most common forms of drug abuse treatment programs and what they entail.

Detox Programs

Detox programs are available at certain clinics and medical facilities where they supervise a person’s drug withdrawal and provide supportive medications where necessary. These clinics are usually staffed with a team of doctors and nurses who have experience with addiction and drug withdrawal.

The advantage of going to a detox center is that medical assistance is readily available. A detox center will place you in comfortable surroundings where you can be assured of help in case of emergencies. These clinics also provide medications to ease some of the symptoms.

Short-Term Inpatient (Residential)

Short-term inpatient centers typically start with medical detox and are followed by a program of addiction treatment such as therapy or counseling for 30 to 90 days. These programs range from basic inpatient to luxury options, all varying in terms of their amenities and types of therapy.

These facilities usually provide 24-hour medical support and are often led by a team of counselors, clinicians, and doctors. Short-term inpatient rehab is ideal for individuals who need detoxing and therapy, but who don’t require long-term treatment.

Long-Term Inpatient

Long-term inpatient treatment varies in length but typically ranges between 3 to 18 months. This type of rehab is best suited to individuals with long-term chronic addictions, especially those who have co-occurring mental health issues.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, long-term treatment may be a good option, especially as many programs address the underlying emotional causes of one’s drug abuse. Long-term treatment also provides an opportunity for the individual to physically withdraw from Adderall while they focus on their mental and emotional rehabilitation. These centers also vary in terms of their provision of amenities which range from basic to luxury options.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHP)

For individuals who are seeking intensive treatment but still prefer to live at home, partial hospitalization (PHP) or day treatment programs are also available. PHP typically consists of hospital treatment 5 to 7 days a week for 4 to 8 hours per day.

Like inpatient treatment, clinical staff are on hand to assist with detox, medication management, and withdrawal symptoms. PHP also involves counseling and group therapy as well as specialized services that focus on skill-building, relapse prevention, and employment assistance.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP)

Intensive outpatient programs are less involved than partial hospitalization programs and typically take place at a treatment center or outpatient clinic. Clients receiving intensive outpatient treatment will usually visit the center 2 to 5 days per week for 2 to 4 hours per day. IOP is well suited to clients who have just completed inpatient rehab and who wish to receive intense treatment while living off site.

IOP programs vary between centers, but they often involve a mixture of individual and group therapy, case management, 12-Step programs, experiential therapies, cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT), and services that cover topics like skill-building, goal setting, and relapse prevention.

Standard Outpatient Programs

Standard outpatient programs are suited to individuals who have just completed an inpatient program and want to continue some form of therapy. Standard outpatient is also ideal for people who may be juggling other responsibilities such as work or school.

Individuals typically report to a treatment center or clinic 1 or 2 days per week. These programs can include counseling, group therapy, 12-Step groups, skills development, goal setting, and relapse prevention training.

Cold Turkey

While Adderall is less dangerous to detox from, it is not recommended that you do it alone as complications can occur during withdrawal. Detoxing from Adderall is best done safely under medical supervision where clinicians can keep you safe and comfortable.

Adderall Therapy Options

During rehab, centers and clinics will provide a range of treatments such as medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies. Below are some of the more effective therapy options for Adderall addiction.

Dual Diagnosis

Rehab facilities that offer dual diagnosis are often staffed with psychiatrists or clinical therapists that can diagnose and/or treat co-occurring mental health conditions. This kind of treatment is especially useful for people who have underlying issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This allows clinicians to safely address these conditions alongside withdrawal from the Adderall itself.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Due to the psychological effects of Adderall withdrawal, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one of the most effective therapies. CBT helps individuals change negative cycles of thought and behavior into more positive ones. Clients receiving CBT for addiction often learn:

  • How to recognize “automatic thoughts” (i.e. dysfunctional thinking patterns and their origins)
  • How to understand the behavior and motivation of others
  • How to develop a greater sense of self-understanding and confidence

In essence, CBT helps clients learn new, drug-free ways to cope with triggers that might encourage them to use Adderall again. This includes an understanding of how situations, people, or the environment can trigger an addictive desire to take Adderall, or how to introduce healthy behaviors that can steer them away from using. CBT is known to be effective and long-lasting as clients can continue utilizing these strategies once their therapy sessions have ended.

Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical-behavior therapy is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy that focuses on mindfulness, how to live in the moment, cope with stress, and improve relationships. DBT also helps clients identify negative influences in their lives and learn how to develop healthy coping skills.

This kind of therapy is useful for people who have been addicted to Adderall, especially those who have anxiety or depression. DBT is also effective for PTSD and for people who exhibit self-destructive behaviors.

The Matrix Model

The Matrix Model is another form of therapy that has shown to be effective in treating substance abuse. This 16-week approach is comprehensive and consists of a mixture of behavioral therapy, individual counseling, 12-Step support, family education, drug testing, and encouraging non-drug-related activities.

Through guided therapy, patients learn about issues connected to addiction and relapse. These sessions are designed to promote self-esteem and self-worth while the patient and therapist work together to reinforce positive behavioral changes.

Contingency Management

Contingency management is another effective treatment for addiction and is based on a reward system. In most cases, the therapist provides incentives to the patient in exchange for ongoing abstinence and acceptance of treatment.

One well-known contingency approach is Motivational Incentives for Enhancing Drug Abuse Recovery (MIEDAR), which is effective for teaching individuals that it is possible to achieve abstinence using self-control. Participants who continue to abstain receive rewards such as prize draws for money or in-demand objects.

Medications

There are currently no specific medications for treating Adderall addiction. However, there are some medications that have proven to be helpful during the rehabilitation process.

Anti-Depressants

Anti-depressants (e.g. Paxil) are used to treat anxiety disorders, depression, and PTSD. This drug can be useful during the detox process as many clients can experience depression and anxiety when they wean off Adderall.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced in the brain and is responsible for setting the body’s sleep-wake cycle. As Adderall withdrawal causes sleep disruption, this supplement can help clients obtain adequate and sustained sleep.

Alternative or Holistic Therapies

Many rehab centers also provide holistic therapies. The purpose of these therapies is to treat the whole person and not just the symptoms. These can be incredibly beneficial for providing calmness, spiritual support, emotional expression, improving physical health, and teaching valuable skills. Some of the popular holistic therapies include:

  • Nutritional therapy
  • Animal-assisted therapy (e.g. emotional support dogs)
  • Massage
  • Adventure therapy (e.g. hiking or rock climbing)
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Art therapy
  • Yoga
  • Equine-assisted therapy

Lifestyle Adjustments

Recovering from Adderall addiction can be challenging, but there are ways to make this process easier. Along with treatment, lifestyle adjustments and self-care can ease the symptoms while transitioning to a new life.

Exercise

Exercise is great for improving cardiovascular health which is especially important following substance abuse. Exercise also stimulates endorphins which can help with depression and low mood. Good forms of exercise include a mix of low- and high-intensity exercises such as walking, running, swimming, cycling, or yoga.

Meditation

Meditation is known to help calm anxious or racing thoughts. Meditation can also stimulate the pleasure centers of the brain and improve cognitive function, which is especially useful when recovering from amphetamine addiction. Additionally, research has shown that meditation can be useful for easing tension and calming the nervous system.

Eating Well

Getting adequate nutrition after detoxing from substances is vitally important. The right diet can help repair any damage incurred following sustained drug use and lead to improved immunity, cognitive function, and energy. Nutritionists or doctors can provide tailored food plans specific to addiction recovery.

Avoiding Triggers

Learning to avoid triggers is vital during the recovery period. This can include people, situations, or circumstances that can prompt a desire to take drugs. Techniques such as CBT can help individuals learn to identify and avoid their triggers by developing alternative coping strategies.

New Hobbies

While cravings can be difficult to manage, hobbies such as sports, art, music, or crafts can be useful distractions. These activities can help someone redirect their cravings and focus on something positive and fun.

Adderall Withdrawal Resources

At RehabAid.com, we are dedicated to helping people recover from problematic substance use and associated mental health disorders. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol, you are not alone. Information on treatment and support options is readily available through the National Helpline of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-662-4357. To further assist you along the path to recovery, the treatment center locator on our website allows you to easily find rehabilitation programs and services in your local area.

We provide our readers with factual, evidence-based content concerning the causes and nature of addiction, as well as available treatment options. However, this informative content is intended for educational purposes only. It is by no means a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. With regard to any addiction-related health concerns, you should always seek the guidance of a qualified, registered physician who is licensed to practice medicine in your particular jurisdiction. You should never avoid or delay seeking professional health care advice or services based on information obtained from our website. Our authors, editors, medical reviewers, website developers, and parent company do not assume any liability, obligation, or responsibility for any loss, damage, or adverse consequences alleged to have happened directly or indirectly as a result of the material presented on RehabAid.com

About the Author

Jenn Tomomitsu, PhD

Jenn is a Canadian writer and poet with a background in psychology, sociology, and natural health. She is the founder of The Master in You, a mental wellness site that provides information about the role that thoughts and emotions play in our physical and emotional health. Jenn is passionate about inner growth and the power of the mind-body connection, and this informs her writing and research on addiction treatment. On Rehabaid, Jenn aims to write accessible, informative content and provide resources that can help people make empowered and informed decisions about their recovery.

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