Adderall is a prescription medication that is designed to help people living with Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. It’s also a substance that has become a popular target of abuse.
Adderall is structurally similar to other amphetamines like methamphetamine, but it’s made in a laboratory. People may believe that it’s a safer drug to abuse when compared to meth since it’s not made by backyard brewers. But Adderall causes the same level of brain damage associated with meth, and that damage can become apparent when people try to stop taking the drug.
Research published in Public Health Well suggests that amphetamines like Adderall can be as addictive as heroin or cocaine, but research performed on amphetamine withdrawal therapies have been limited. That means researchers aren’t really sure what medications work to help people move through Adderall withdrawal.
Just because there are no agreed-upon treatment medications doesn’t mean there is nothing that brings relief. In fact, these are just five types of therapies that could help people get through Adderall withdrawal.
Adderall’s stimulant quality can leave people feeling too anxious to sleep. If they do sleep, they may awaken often and struggle to doze off again. That lack of quality sleep can last for quite some time. In fact, in a study published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, researchers found that people moving through withdrawal struggled with quality sleep for more than four weeks.
As the brain adjusts to a lack of Adderall, good sleep should return. But in the interim, making the bedroom a haven for good sleep can help. The National Sleep Foundation recommends keeping the bedroom at about 65 degrees. Body temperatures drop as people grow drowsy. Keeping the room cool can trick the body into believing that sleep is coming.
In addition, the space should be dedicated to sleeping, not:
There should be no distractions in this space to keep sleep from coming. Walking into this space should remind the body that it’s time for sleep.
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While most of the Adderall withdrawal side effects that cause discomfort have to do with brain changes, the body can also be damaged by ongoing drug use. That damage can cause a low-level of illness that can make recovery a little more difficult.
Some of that damage happens to the liver. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), amphetamines are processed by liver tissue. The drugs can damage the tissue, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and yellowing of the skin. These symptoms can go away when amphetamine use stops, NIH says, but eating a proper diet can help.
The American Liver Foundation suggests that people with liver issues should eat a diet low in fat, sugar, and salt. That means most fast-food restaurants can’t serve a meal that’s right for Adderall withdrawal. Homecooked meals that are full of fruits and vegetables will be a better choice. Fiber-filled foods can also be helpful, as they enable the liver to work at an optimal level.
While Adderall is processed by the liver, the byproducts of the processing move out of the body through urine.
During detox, the goal is to move all of the active particles of the drug out of the body for good. Adding more water to the diet is one way to make sure that process moves forward.
During stimulant withdrawal, people should drink between two and three liters of water every day, according to the World Health Organization.
Those who don’t prefer the taste of water may enjoy supplementation with a little lemon or lime juice, or they may prefer their water served in herbal tea formats.
The goal is just to get as much fluid into the body as possible, so all of the Adderall has a chance to move out.
While Adderall can increase a sense of focus, when it is gone, it can cause distractedness. People moving through detox may feel as though they’re unable to concentrate on anything at all. But they may also feel the need to keep busy and keep moving due to the anxiety Adderall withdrawal can cause.
Soothing, repetitive tasks that don’t require much mental stimulation could be good choices. These tasks help people to pass the time, and they keep the mind on something other than pain or discomfort. People moving through withdrawal might appreciate:
People in the later stages of withdrawal may be able to participate in soothing activities such as yoga or meditation. But these come with a movement aspect that may be too difficult for those who are just beginning the healing process.
These tasks may seem incredibly simple, and they may even feel a little childish, but they can help to bring a sense of focus to the mind. The feeling of accomplishment that comes with a job well done can also be helpful for people in recovery.
Depression is common during Adderall withdrawal. In a study published in the journal Addiction, researchers found that people entering the detox process had a wide range of depression symptoms, ranging from mild to moderate.
Depression during detox is dangerous for two reasons. First, people who are depressed can grow suicidal, especially if they have no hope for the future. Second, people who are depressed due to drug withdrawal could be tempted to return to drug use to make the sadness end.
That’s why it’s vital to have someone available around the clock during the drug detox process. People living with this kind of depression may appreciate the company and the reassurance, but they may also need protection so they don’t make poor decisions that stick with them for the rest of life.
(January 2009) Treatment for Amphetamine Withdrawal. Public Health Well. Retrieved from http://publichealthwell.ie/node/69423?&content=resource&member=6841&catalogue=none&collection=none&tokens_complete=true
(January 2011) Characterizing Methamphetamine Withdrawal in Recently Abstinent Methamphetamine Users: A Pilot Field Study. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00952990.2010.543998
(2009) Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/