Tapering Off Adderall

How To Get Off Adderall

If you or someone you love is taking Adderall and wants to stop, having a plan is important because quitting Adderall cold turkey can lead to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. In addition, if you are taking Adderall prescribed by a doctor for a condition like ADHD, suddenly stopping the medication can worsen your condition. This is why working closely with your doctor is important if you want to stop Adderall use. 

What Are the Benefits of Quitting Adderall?

If you are prescribed Adderall for a legitimate medical reason like ADHD, taking the drug even long-term does not seem to impact health negatively and may, in fact, reduce the risk of depression and suicide.

However, if you take Adderall you have not been prescribed, you risk serious health consequences because your brain does not have the same dopamine deficiency that Adderall is meant to treat. For this reason, quitting Adderall can help you avoid complications like:

  • Seizures
  • Sudden cardiac death
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Hostility
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Psychosis

Can You Stop Taking Adderall Cold Turkey?

You should not stop taking Adderall cold turkey. This is because when you take Adderall long-term, your brain begins to adjust to the drug’s presence, also known as dependence. Therefore, suddenly quitting Adderall leaves your brain chemically imbalanced and triggers withdrawal symptoms.

Adderall Withdrawal

Adderall withdrawal can occur when you have been taking Adderall regularly, and your brain and body have become accustomed to the drug and rely on its presence to feel normal. Adderall withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and may include:

  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Vivid dreams or nightmares
  • Sleep changes
  • Increased appetite
  • Cognitive slowing

When a person takes a high dose of Adderall, they may be at risk of more dangerous psychological withdrawal effects like:

  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Disordered thoughts 
  • Hallucinations

The duration of withdrawal varies widely among individuals, but withdrawal from stimulants like Adderall often starts within 24 hours of the last dose and continues for several days. It is unclear if short-acting Adderall and long-acting Adderall differ regarding withdrawal effects.

How To Get Off Adderall Without Side Effects

It is possible to quit Adderall while avoiding or reducing side effects. Tapering a medication (or substance) is an effective method for preventing withdrawal symptoms. By slowly reducing the amount of a drug or substance, people can limit the severity of the withdrawal symptoms that develop when their body tries to adjust to the medication or substance’s absence.

The generic name for Adderall is amphetamine salts, formulated as Adderall IR (immediate-release) or Adderall XR (extended-release). The type of formulation someone uses will affect their specific taper schedule.

It is difficult for someone to know if they need to taper their Adderall, and it’s best to talk to the doctor who prescribes you Adderall. Based on your medical history, they can tell you if you need an Adderall taper to stop the medication.

Tapering off Adderall

Adderall is a complex drug, and there is no easy method for tapering the medication. Sometimes, tapering the drug is unnecessary, but this should be left to the doctor’s judgment. A medical professional may create a tapering schedule based on the following factors:

  • The current dose of Adderall
  • The presence of current side effects from Adderall
  • How long a person has been taking Adderall
  • The severity of any withdrawal symptoms
  • The formulation used (i.e., IR or XR)

People on extended-release formulations may be switched to immediate-release formulations as a bridge between different doses. For example, Adderall XR is available in 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg and 30 mg. The immediate-release form is used for doses like 12.5 mg or 7.5 mg.

In general, symptoms of Adderall withdrawal are not life-threatening, so medical detox is not mandatory. However, medical detox provides many benefits, like medical management of withdrawal symptoms, support and immediate access to continued substance use treatment after your medical detox is over.

Adderall Taper Schedule

A tapering schedule for Adderall is highly individualized; anyone tapering will have a much different schedule than another person who is also tapering Adderall.

Tapers are designed to lower the daily dose in fixed amounts over time. So a person may take 20 mg daily the first week and 15 mg daily the second week. A full taper like this lasts weeks to months, depending on the individual.

Medically-assisted Adderall Detox

One of the safest ways to detox from Adderall is in a medical detox program. In addition to easing withdrawal symptoms, medical detox can provide:

  • Treatment for other medical conditions
  • Treatment for mental health problems
  • Nutritional support and regular meals
  • A substance-free environment to avoid relapse
  • Immediate transfer into further rehab care
  • Peer support from those going through similar situations

If you or someone you know is having trouble with Adderall or other stimulants, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield. Contact us to speak with a representative about how professional addiction treatment can help. Take the first step toward an Adderall-free life.

U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration. “Drugs of Abuse, A DEA Resource Guide.” 2020. Accessed August 10, 2022. PsychDB. “Stimulant Withdrawal.” Accessed August 10, 2022. World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings.” 2009. Accessed August 10, 2022. Krinzinger, Helga; Hall, Charlotte L.; Groom, Madeleine J.; et al. “Neurological and psychiatric adverse effects of long-term methylphenidate treatment in ADHD: A map of the current evidence.” Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, December 2019. Accessed August 10, 2022. Schweren, Lizanne; Hoekstra, Pieter; van Lieshout, Marloes; et al. “Long-term effects of stimulant treatment on ADHD symptoms, social-emotional functioning, and cognition.” Psychological Medicine, January 2019. Accessed August 10, 2022.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.