Adderall is the brand name of a combination drug made up of four salts of amphetamine. This drug is a potent stimulant and has effects very similar to meth, another stimulant that is highly addictive. Just like meth addiction, Adderall withdrawal is likewise difficult to handle without treatment.
Adderall increases the dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the central nervous system (CNS). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in the brain that sends messages from one nerve cell to another. It is also largely associated with how humans feel pleasure and in finding interest in things.
Norepinephrine, which is also known as noradrenaline, is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is associated with the body’s fight-or-flight response. This means it is largely involved in how a person pays attention to something and how fast it could react to specific stimuli or events. For medication purposes, it is used to elevate and maintain blood pressure during critical times when such is needed.
Both dopamine and norepinephrine play a part in how the body stays awake, alert, and in triggering feelings of happiness and pleasure. Since Adderall triggers the release of both dopamine and norepinephrine, it is easy to understand why people would get hooked on it, and in such a short time of usage.
Adderall is primarily prescribed for people diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the sleep disorder known as narcolepsy. Clinical tests have confirmed that long-term continuous stimulant therapy has proven to be quite effective in decreasing the core symptoms of ADHD, including:
As a treatment for narcolepsy, Adderall works by boosting the hormone norepinephrine so that the person benefits from the hormone’s promotion of wakefulness. Narcolepsy could be severely disruptive to regular activity because of its effects:
Before using Adderall as a treatment medication, however, certain factors need to be checked first as stimulants are known to produce some adverse effects in people with particular conditions, such as:
Adderall and other stimulants are also not prescribed to people who have certain medication considerations, such as:
People taking Adderall or other stimulants also stated that they noticed significant side effects from continuous use, most of it is an enhancement in both cognitive and physical performance.
Clinical trials have established that at low doses, or in dosages classified as therapeutic, stimulants produced modest but unclassified improvements in certain cognitive functions, such as:
Higher doses, or unsupervised increases in dosage, however, tends to produce the opposite effect and interfere or disrupt memory functions.
The prime stimulant derivative, amphetamine, has long been associated with enhancing physical performance, particularly in those who are into athletics and activities requiring enhanced endurance. As a physical enhancer, however, amphetamines have long been classified as an illegal substance. Amphetamine has been known to:
Similar to the cognitive enhancement effect, however, increased doses will eventually lead to rapid muscle breakdown and increased body temperature.
While it seems like Adderall and other similar stimulants might have more good points than bad, people should know that it does have a lot of side effects that are quite alarming. These side effects include:
While these side effects might not appear to be life-threatening, some of them could lead to a serious injury or condition. Some of these side effects could also become problematic if the person also has a pre-existing condition which these effects could aggravate. One example is how the side effect of increased blood pressure could complicate matters for a person who is in danger of a stroke.
The nature of stimulants practically guarantees that anyone who has used it will experience withdrawal symptoms, as it affects the central nervous system directly. In fact, anyone who has tried to take more than what is necessary, even once, will feel a “crash.”
This crash is felt within several hours of the last large doses of Adderall, or any stimulant taken in a large amount. This crash is characterized by feelings of physical and mental exhaustion, and a marked mood change similar to bout of depression.
This could be followed by a great urge to eat and sleep.
For those who have used Adderall for an extended period, there is a general timeline that would dictate what symptoms could be expected.
Once the person has stopped using Adderall, the first wave of symptoms could be expected the next day or even three days after the last usage. The first wave of symptoms could include either insomnia, fatigue, mood swings, or feelings of depression. In many instances it could be all of these at the same time.
Following the first wave of symptoms, a new batch of symptoms could be expected once the first wave subsides. This new batch of symptoms could include great irritability, feelings of anxiousness or restlessness, and an inability to focus or concentrate. There are cases where these symptoms are punctuated by insomnia or sleep pattern disruption.
On the second week following the last day of Adderall use, sleep patterns may begin to normalize once more, but there will still be occasions when sleeping patterns may fluctuate. This period will also come with feelings of great fatigue, intense feelings of melancholy, and periods of great craving to use Adderall or any other stimulant once more.
Withdrawal symptoms should have subsided by this period, although some people who have taken Adderall or some other stimulant for extended periods of time or in great quantities could still feel some lingering effects of symptoms experienced in the previous days.
The most prominent symptoms at this point would be feelings of great fatigue, an intense craving for Adderall or any other stimulant, and unpredictable and sudden mood swings.
By this time the substance should have been completely flushed out of the body and the person’s natural processes should have returned to normal. Some people might still feel the urge to seek out the drug once more, although this could be handled much easier at this point with therapy.
As can be expected, because Adderall brings about feelings of being lively, active, and even euphoric, the opposite of these feelings could be felt during the withdrawal period. For many who have gotten so used to experiencing being alive only while on Adderall, the days without it could be particularly agonizing.
Practically everyone who used Adderall for some time and stopped using it will know what it’s like to experience feelings of depression. In some cases, the depression experienced could be so intense that it is best described as “crushing.”
People undergoing Adderall withdrawal confessed to experiencing the following:
Detox is always present in every addiction-related treatment. There is a need to stop the substance from doing further damage to the body and mind of the person, and flush it out so that physical and mental treatment could begin.
Therapists and rehab experts will need to properly assess the severity and extent of the Adderall addiction to formulate the best approach to take during detox so that there is no further danger to the patient. This is because there have been incidents during detox where quitting a substance cold turkey led to serious and even lethal results.
Once detox has done the job of flushing out all the toxins brought on by the substance abuse, withdrawal will set in, and the treatment phase of rehabilitation will begin.
Adderall addiction rehabilitation requires particular care because of the mental and emotional state the person is left in once the withdrawal starts. Taking Adderall most of the time could make a person like being on top of the world, able to take on any challenge and win, which is why the drop following withdrawal from it could be so devastating
This is why people recovering from an Adderall addiction may require careful monitoring and treatment so as to ensure that the emotional and mental storms that follow don’t inspire further self-harm.
Adderall addiction creates a scenario where a person feels strong enough to take on the world while on it, and then barely able to get out of bed when off it. In many cases the mental and physical effects of withdrawal leave the person in a state where they need help just going about the daily motions of life, like getting out of bed.
This is why many often require the kind of care and attention found in inpatient rehab. The specialist knows how agonizing the process is for those going through withdrawal, and they know how to help them get through it towards recovery.
Being on potent stimulants such as Adderall could leave a person with a false sense of reality, as the strength, confidence, and skills they had while on it seemingly vanished overnight following detox. This leaves them feeling that they will never recover from the ordeal of not taking Adderall anymore.
This is the kind of mentality that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) seeks to correct. By making them realize that there is still a world outside of Adderall addiction, and that they are not as helpless as they feel, the patient is given the motivation and drive to get well and do what they need to do without the aid of substances.
The tragedy of performance enhancer addiction, such as that of Adderall addiction, is that some people who took the stimulant only did so for that little push that they needed to get to the win. The desperation to be better often leads many to bad decisions, such as taking Adderall, which they later think they cannot live without.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) seeks to create better coping mechanisms and skills in instances where the person thinks the best solution is taking drugs. This form of therapy helps the person find and choose the better and safer choice in response to challenges and stressful situations.
Adderall detox is quite difficult, and anyone going through it will need all the help they could get to make it through. This is why the professionals here at Magnolia City Detox give their all to help the patients get through detox successfully, and well onto recovery.
It’s going to be a lot of work, but we will be here for you, every step of the way.
Magnolia City Detox. Talk to us now.
Dr. Olaniyi O. Osuntokun is a Neurology & Psychiatry Specialist based in Conroe, Texas, and Lafayette, Indiana. He has extensive experience in treating Individuals with substance use disorders and addiction. He earned his medical degree from University of Ibadan College of Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years.