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A Bunch of Random Tips for Quitting Adderall

Making the decision to quit

Do you really need to quit, or just lower your dose? I generally hear two stories when people tell me they want to quit Adderall:

Story #1:  “My life was a mess before Adderall. When I started Adderall, everything got better; I finally felt normal. Then I started spiraling my dose upwards, and things got out of control, and now I just want to quit.”

If this is you, then the issue might not be Adderall overall, but rather the high dose you’ve climbed up to. Quitting completely might be too severe. Try to get down to a lower dose first (and stick to it). See how that works out for you, and then decide if there’s still something to gain by quitting completely.

Story #2: “I don’t feel like myself on Adderall; and looking back, I never really have. I feel like it enabled me to carry my life in a direction that I wouldn’t have wanted without it. I think my life would be happier, more fulfilling, and oddly more productive without it.”

If you identify with this second narrative strongly, then quitting completely might be a reasonable option.

Of course, you could be a mix of #1 and #2.

The key determinant is whether you can picture yourself happier and more productive without Adderall. If being sans-Adderall sounds miserable, and being on Adderall sounds miserable, then try a lower dose. If being on a lower dose feels right to you, but you don’t trust yourself to stay at that lower dose, then try a different, less addiction-prone Adderall alternative (ask your doctor).

Adderall can be a helpful medication that empowers your life. It can also be bottled complacency, making you so excited about focusing on the trees that you can’t see the forest anymore. Decide which it is for you.

If being completely off Adderall sounds deeply appealing in several, specific, profound ways, then maybe quitting is right for you.

Make sure you can picture a version of your life without Adderall that is happier and more productive.

Don’t think of quitting Adderall as your end goal. Quitting Adderall is a means by which you’re going to achieve the bigger goal of embracing your deeper passions and creating a life that is full of more meaningful work.

What are you quitting for? What happier, more productive version of yourself are you hoping to forge? How do you think quitting Adderall will help you become that? What lost parts of yourself do you hope to rescue by quitting? What feels stifled on Adderall?

You don’t need precise answers to these questions. Vague and fuzzy is fine. Maybe you want to focus on [insert your artistic passion here] more, or on enjoying your relationships more, or on having more balance in your life, or all of the above.

You’ll have plenty of time to figure out specifics. But make sure you have at least a vague idea of what a happy life without Adderall might look like for you, and make sure you feel like such a life is possible. If you can’t see a possible path to happiness and success without Adderall, then don’t quit.

Quitting is a means to an end. Before you quit, make sure there is an end.

For me, it was writing. I could do anything on Adderall, except write well. When I tried to write on Adderall, I was too zoomed-in; I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I would luxuriate over useless tangents. In my hyper-focused state, I couldn’t empathize with a reader whose attention was limited.

Worst of all, because Adderall manufactured in me an artificial interest in my day job, I had no real hunger for outside artistic fulfillment. I only ever tried to write infrequently, out of spontaneous novelty. Regaining my artistic hunger — the need to write — has been the single most powerful aspect of quitting for me.

On some level, I understood all of this before quitting. Caring about writing again and caring about making a difference in the world were the two ends that I hoped to achieve by quitting Adderall. And it worked.

Understand what quitting Adderall means

Quitting Adderall is an act of violent re-prioritization. It will upend your entire life, personality, goals, and work habits. It will destroy your ability to focus on what’s in front of you, and force you to focus on your abstract goals and passions. Do you want that? Does your life feel a little off-course, or a lot off-course? Do you want your entire life to change? Keep in mind also that for a long time after quitting, your life may change for the worse. It can take years to steer that change in a positive direction.

This is why it’s important that you at least have an idea of how you could be happy and productive without Adderall (e.g., “If my life could be all about painting / writing / teaching / working with at-risk teenagers.”).

You have to have a dream for yourself that’s strong enough to pull you through all the misery.

If you have such a vision, as I did, then quitting can be worth every tear, every day spent as a depressive couch slug, every feeling of inadequacy, every “What happened to you?” from friends, and every doubt about your future. Because if you keep swimming upstream towards that vision long enough, you will eventually start to taste your dreams in the water. And when that happens, you will bless all those horrible moments that led you there, and you’ll swim harder.

If you’ve already quit and you don’t have any direction (even a blurry one), try to find one. I’m currently on my second “grand vision for my life” since quitting. The first one didn’t work out, which was devastating at the time, but I love where I am now (better than I would have loved that first new path).

When you quit, questions like “What really matters? What do I really want?” consume your entire life. As stressful as that is, it can be extremely useful to have those questions top-of-mind, even after you recover. You’ll find that after a while, re-prioritzation becomes your default coping mechanism. Feel crappy, question what matters, re-prioritize. That can be a productive reaction to stress, if you habitualize it.

You’re quitting Adderall (in part) to find your path again. As part of that process, you will strengthen your ability to feel your path. For long after you’ve recovered, you may find that you catch yourself quickly when you’re wandering off course, and (as a bonus) you’ll be less afraid of the unpleasantness usually involved in correcting your direction (because quitting has made you resilient to unpleasantness in the service of your bigger goals).

Your 3 battlefronts

You have three battles to fight:

  1. Stimulation is having the energy and/or motivation to perform tasks and maintain self-control.
  2. Impulse control is your ability to ignore shiny and distracting thoughts so you can stay on task.
  3. Baseline happiness is the natural fulfillment and stimulation that your life provides (or fails to provide).

These all relate to each other (i.e., baseline happiness provides stimulation, which makes impulse control easier), but each represents a distinct battlefront of the quitting process that you will need to focus on fighting independently.

Don’t lump these together. They have separate effects on you when they are fulfilled/unfulfilled. If you only slept 4 hours last night, you’re lacking stimulation, so it’s not accurate to start thinking “I can’t focus because my life sucks and I’m impulsive and irrecoverably ADD.” Conversely, just because you’re working on your passion and fully alert doesn’t mean you’ll be able to control your impulses to get distracted. Separate battles, same goal.

Solve the energy problem first

Tell me if this thought process sounds familiar: “Urgh. I will never be able to focus. I can’t do this. I can’t pay attention. I’m so tired. I just want to sleep.” Sound familiar? Often when you’re lamenting about focus, you’re simply tired. Don’t confuse a focus problem with an energy problem. Most people can’t focus when they’re low-energy; that’s human, not some deep flaw unique to you. The part that’s unique to you is that your focus is more fragile (it’s the first thing to go when you get tired), so it’s extra important for you to keep your energy at a consistent and acceptable level.

Put some thought into figuring out how to maintain a moderate energy level throughout the day. Once you have energy, it’s much easier to focus on your focus (research has shown that increasing blood glucose restores some lost willpower). But don’t over-stimulate. Your goal is to be solidly awake the whole day, not buzzed and manic the whole day (otherwise you might as well take a low dose of Adderall).

Daily energy boosters…

  1. Carrots: My favorite energy snack. And unlike caffeine, they give you short-term energy without keeping you awake.
  2. Fruit: I eat a giant bowl of honey-covered fruit and granola as part of every breakfast. I call it my breakfast energy bomb.
  3. Caffeine: Don’t go overboard with this one, or you’ll get insomnia and reduced sleep quality (forcing you to caffeinate more). I set a daily caffeine-cuttoff of 12pm, and try to drink as little as possible (but I metabolize it extremely slowly; it might be different for you).
  4. The obvious ones: Get a restful amount of sleep every night. No alcohol, no sleeping pills, no depressants, exercise.

Fighting distractions

If your environment and/or work habits are peppered with built-in distractions, then you are significantly undermining your ability to stay on task. By reducing these distractions, you make impulse control easier (and more likely).

Working in a distracting environment after quitting Adderall (or with ADD in general) is like driving a car on a bumpy, uneven dirt road — with only your knees to steer. By contrast, working in a low-distraction environment (e.g., a silent library) is like driving your car on a smooth highway, where the car stays straight mostly on its own.

The self-control you use to resist distractions is a diminishing resource, and after you quit you’re going to have less of it. You’re going to struggle more, and fatigue faster, until you build that muscle up. You have to be protective of your little focus tank; don’t burn resources on distractions you could have avoided.

Prepare for work like you prepare for a long distance run.

If you find yourself constantly getting up from your desk/workstation to fulfill cravings while trying to work, you need to do more prep work before you start.

Pretend that you’re going to go on a 4-hour bike ride or run. When you prepare for a long run or bike ride, you gather together everything you’re going to need for the entire trip before you head out the door. You get your snacks, you bike pump, your water bottle (washed, refilled, and in its holster), the iPod playlist you’re craving, you make sure to go the bathroom. That way, when you finally get on your bike you can ride for hours without interruption.

Do this with work. Anticipate every craving in advance.

When I start a full day of work, my desk looks ridiculous, but it keeps my ass in the chair for hours. I have fruit, carrots, coffee, a full water bottle, gum, floss picks, something chocolate, my todo list, the playlist I want qued up, and if I’m really good that day, I’ll have my todo list already written from the night before. Side note: of all cognitive activities, planning has a high mental load requirement, so it’s best to separate that step.

Choose the right lubricator for the job

I’ve written before about lurbricators: side-attractions that you have running while you work to keep you chugging through the drudgery. Music, podcasts, Netflix on a second screen. I have a silly little theory about these, based on an established theory of skill acquisition from psychology.

When you acquire a skill, you pass through 3 stages…

  1. Complex: First, the task is complex to you and you’re dedicating a lot of cognitive resources to it (e.g., solving a kind of calculus problem that you haven’t tried before).
  2. Half-automatic: Then, as you get more comfortable with it, you’re still thinking it through, but it’s kind of half-automatic (think solving a bunch of basic addition problems on a timed test; it only takes you a second to calculate the answer)
  3. Automatic: After you’ve done something enough times, you barely think about it anymore. Like mowing your lawn for the 100th time. You put in your headphones, go some place else in your head, and the task gets done.

If you think about the task you’re performing, you can probably feel which of these phases you’re in (spoiler: after you quit Adderall, most tasks will revert back at the “complex” stage). If you keep these stages in mind while you’re learning something new, you can actually feel yourself moving through each stage (I think that’s cool, but I’m a psychology geek).

My silly theory of skill acquisition and lubrication: The later the stage of skill acquisition you’re in, the more complex your lubrication can be.

  1. Complex task + simple lubrication: When you’re studying for the MCAT, silence or Simplynoise.com is probably the best.
  2. Half-automatic task + stimulating lubrication: For half-automatic tasks that don’t require a lot of stopping to rack your brain (i.e., when you know what needs to be done), your favorite playlist will do nicely.
  3. Automatic task + complex lubrication: When you’re clipping through a task you’ve done so many times you can do it without thinking, then you can afford to have a Netflix movie playing to keep you sane.

Fighting your distractability

Eliminating distractions smooths-out the course, but you still have to run it. For that, you’re going to have to address your systemic distractableness.

3 Tendencies to cultivate:

  1. Distraction-cancellation. Train your brain to recognize a distracting thought bubbling up, and pop the bubble before you start chasing it. Meditation is the best way to do this, but try to be aware of what you’re doing when you cancel a distraction, and congratulate yourself whenever you do it (adds positive reinforcement and boosts your self-efficacy).
  2. Course-correction: Oops. This is the fourth YouTube video you’ve clicked on, and you can feel yourself spiraling into an endless distractionville. When you fall off the horse, get back on as quickly as possible. That’s more important than damning yourself for falling off.  The trick here is to acknowledge that you’re in a distraction spiral as soon as you can, even if you click a few more videos. Because once you define the experience as a distraction, you start gravitating back to your task.
  3. Fatigue recovery: You’ve been working for a while, and you feel worn out. You don’t think you can bring yourself to start this new task. You want to sleep/relax now, and you have four hours of work left to do.  Try sugar (increase blood glucose) or a 10-second mini-mediation (close your eyes and focus on the breath coming in and out of your nose for 10 breaths). Both of these have been shown in research to restore depleted self-control. In my experience, they work like a charm and add energy too.

Music makes you less distractable: Music is a crappy soundtrack for most distractions. Do you ever find yourself pausing the music to slack off? If you force yourself to keep the music playing, it can help you speed through distractions and get back on point, all while bobbing your head.

Mindfulness meditation is mandatory for you

A funny thing happened the day after I meditated for the first time. I was working on something, and a shiny distracting thought popped into my head. Normally, it would have pulled me completely off task. Then, abruptly, the distracting thought just died, like a firework fading from the sky. It was a strange feeling. It was like my brain had installed a popup-blocker. You know that little “bloop-bloop!” sound Internet Explorer makes when it blocks a popup window? I basically felt that sound in my head.

Later, after reading more research about mindfulness mediation, I learned that it’s supposed to help with impulse control, because most mindfullness exercises force you to spend 15+ minutes cancelling-out all thoughts except the thing you’re focusing on (e.g., your breath, in most cases).

Meditation has also been shown to increase perceptual speed (a component of intelligence), calm anxiety, fight depression, and enhance overall well-being. Permanently, not just while you’re meditating.

There are good reasons why mediation is becoming the fix-all wonder-drug of behavior therapy (it even lowers recidivism rates when prisoners take yoga classes). It really, really works. It is absolutely life-altering. I know it sounds so fru-fru. And I know there are a lot of New Age nuts out there who extol the benefits of meditation alongside magic crystals and auras, making meditation look flaky and stupid by association. Try it anyway.

I highly recommend Dr. Kelly McGonical’s books on willpower, self-control, and change — all of which enumerate different benefits of mindfulness exercises. She has a sample mediation MP3 on her website too that I use all the time.

Meditation produces structural changes in the area of your brain associated with impulse control. It also stimulates you (restores willpower and fights cognitive fatigue), raises your baseline happiness (because it helps you keep perspective), and it heals depression and anxiety, which are both extremely detrimental to your focus.

Of everything I’ve tried, mediation has been the second most effective technique for boosting my daily focus (the most effective was creating a naturally stimulating life for myself, but that takes way longer).

Calm your anxiety so you can focus

Pathological anxiety can be an internal distraction that frequently throws you off task into a frantic worry-spiral. If you’re prone to anxiety, you waste a lot of mental resources worrying. Your worry is stealing the resources you need for problem solving and task completion.

Trying to stay focused through anxiety is like plugging a microwave and a hair dryer into the same outlet and wondering why both keep shorting out. Anxiety can dramatically worsen whatever natural ADD you have. Here are some tips on calming it.

Action breaks the cycle of worry

Nothing nothing kills worry faster or more thoroughly than action. Attack the stressor, not the stresseeGoogle your fears. Make phone calls. Find out more about it. Think of back-up plans and workarounds for worst-case scenarios, and investigate them.

All of that is more effective than sitting still and catastrophizing. 90% of your fears can be cut in half or eliminated with 5 minutes of thoughtful investigation. You’ll be surprised by how little information you had when you first started worrying, and by how powerful a little additional information can be. When you learn more about a stressor, you fill in gaps with facts instead of worry. More importantly, you teach your worry-brian that it is frequently ignorant of solutions.

You can’t make the situation perfect, but you can always make the situation better

The difference between “perfect” and “better” is crucial for you to understand. You can waste so much time agonizing over how impossible a problem or situation is to fix, when all the while you could have improved the situation with a few minutes effort.

Not every problem can be solved right now, but nearly every problem can be made smaller and less affecting. Learn to make things better, if only a little, even if you can’t fix them all the way. Improving a situation by a even a tiny amount will reduce your stress and boost your self-efficacy (your belief in your ability to surmount the seemingly unsurmountable).

Estimate tasks in terms of time required, not emotional repulsiveness.

There’s a certain type of task that takes 2 minutes to accomplish, yet you keep putting it off because it’s so unpleasant. I call these types of tasks “toilet-cleaning tasks.” Cleaning a toilet takes 45 seconds (just a few swipes of the bowl brush), but it’s a disgusting 45 seconds. I think a lot of daily tasks are like that: They don’t actually take you that long, they’re not technically difficult, and yet you avoid them because they’re so emotionally unpleasant. Like cleaning a toilet.

When you quit Adderall, and your self-efficacy plummets, most tasks become emotionally unpleasant (especially if you’re neurotic in addition to the ADD). Everything is a toilet-cleaning task. The trick is to detach yourself and think of tasks in terms of completion time, instead of emotional content.

For example: You have a press release to draft. You haven’t done this since you quit Adderall. You’re afraid it’s going to come out terrible and everybody is going to judge you for your crappy work, or that you’re going to space out and forget some important detail. So you put it off. Some part of you knows that writing a press release only takes you an hour (you’ve done it plenty of times before), and you have four hours left in the day, but the emotional repulsiveness wins out.

I think a lot of tasks feel repulsive after Adderall because it feels like failure is built in. Your self-efficacy is so low, you assume that every task is full of inevitable rejection. The “I’m going to screw this up and be humiliated” thought process is the reverse-image of the “I’m going to make this perfect and be a star” driving thought you operated on while taking Adderall. You need to find a middle ground.

Try to think of tasks in terms of how much time you’ll need to spend stumbling through it to achieve a somewhat satisfactory result (instead of only obsessing on the stumbles). Writing your first press release without Adderall is intimidating. Completing a 1-hour task (with 4 hours to do it in) sound exactly as approachable and doable as it should.

Estimating task completion time in advance of starting will also help you complete the task, because you’ll prime yourself (and your focus) for spending that amount of time doing that task.  It’s like walking out the door and knowing that you’re going to run 3 miles, instead of walking out the door “to run” without a set distance (and after placing too high of expectations on yourself).

Post-Adderall social awkwardness is normal

Being socially akward after quitting Adderall is normal. You are not only changing how you think, but you’re throwing your life into a transition period. In the midst of your recovery, you have no idea who you are or what you’re about; such a precarious, scary, uncertain state doesn’t exactly foster social confidence.

In social situations, fake it till you make it. In psychology, there’s a concept called “deep acting,” which is more than slapping on a smile and saying a few pro-social things; it’s convincing yourself to play the role of a people-loving extrovert so deeply that it almost feels real.

At first this might feel like you’re being really fake (pretending to be interested in people and energetic at parties), but ultimately the interest and energy become real and self-sustaining. It’s only the impulse to be interested that you’re faking, not the interest itself. Once you start talking to people, you’ll usually find that you’re actually interested in the conversation naturally.

Think of Starbucks. When they’re behind on your drink order, employees are taught to make conversation with you to help the time pass. The impulse to talk to you is contrived and mandated by the corporation, but that doesn’t stop them from taking an interest in you and having a real, short conversation.

Slowly build an immunity to depression

Depression can be a major problem after quitting Adderall. The good news is, if you keep fighting to raise your baseline happiness, your depressive episodes should get shorter and less frequent. Here are a few other tips.

First, some perspective: Your current existential crisis will be the making of your entire life

Do you have any idea how many seemingly happy and successful people secretly yearn for more fulfilling work? This is so common it’s cliche (ever heard the phrase “lives of quiet desperation?”). Many people spend their entire life following the rules, landing a good career, raising a family — all the while craving more fulfillment than their career provides, but sticking it out because it’s the life they’ve chosen, or because their compromise pays for the lifestyle that they want.

Don’t believe me? Do you think your friends have all found jobs that suit them and you’re stuck being an undecided loser? Ask your friends if they consider their current job a “calling.” Most of them will chuckle at the absurdity of that notion. There’s a common conception that “finding a calling” is something only a rare few people do. You will become one of those rare few people, if you do quitting Adderall right.

As bad as your existential depression can get after you quit Adderall (e.g., “What does it all mean? What am I doing with my life? What would be fulfilling for me?”), remember that you’re going through a process that few people have the courage to go through: You are leaning yourself into all the little whispers that most people suppress until retirement. That’s supposed to be unpleasant. Bless this pain, for it serves the noblest of all ends.

Don’t moralize willpower and focus

It’s tempting to say “I’m not motivated because I’m lazy.” or “I can’t focus because I’m flawed and less-than.” You forget that procrastination and distraction are universal human problems that everyone fights, and that ADD is a common disorder (with some highly redeeming aspects) that you can manage if stop trying to “not be ADD” for a minute and figure out ways to work with your nature instead of against it.

Willpower, self-control, and focus are resources that everybody has to cultivate. You have a resource problem, not a “you’re a bad person” problem. Sure, your lack of willpower and focus may be extra salient to you for the next few years, but you cannot take it personally, or you’re never be able to improve it (and you can improve it greatly in time).

Don’t blame yourself for your crappy environment

I cannot tell you how many years I spent damning myself for being unmotivated in a job I was totally burnt out on. Stupidly, I guess I thought that I should be able to focus on anything. My coworkers could focus on the job, I used to be able to focus on it; clearly something was permanently broken in me. When I changed jobs to something closer to my passion, my motivation skyrocketed, and more than half of my focus problems disappeared instantly.

Judge your potential by what you can do on a task you love, not by what you can do at your day job. For years I would feel like a disabled, lazy, hopeless loser at my day job, and then go to school and ace every psychology test (even if it required hours of focused studying). When I quit my day job, and psychology became a bigger part of my life, it became clear to me where my big problem was all along.

Admit to yourself that you have ADD, at least for now

ADD is chronic understimulation. Even if you don’t think you had ADD before Adderall, when you quit you will have it, because your stimulation will be significantly lower than what you’ve grown accustomed to. Relative to your Adderall-created standard, you will be far understimulated, with all of the ADD symptoms that come with that.

As soon as possible, stop comparing yourself to non-ADD people, start incorporating ADD into your self-identity, and start comparing yourself to other ADD people (there are plenty of smart, attractive, successful people with it). Find support groups online, read articles about ADD and ADD behavioral therapies, and create games and smart workarounds for your own absent-mindedness. Spend more time problem-solving, and less time hating yourself.

Of course, the question here is “Why not just stay medicated?” That might be an option for you. For me, I can produce and work at a level that I’m satisfied with without meds (after years of working at it). More than anything, I love how completely intolerant I am of anything that isn’t my passion without Adderall. Staying unmedicated forces me to make my life more stimulating, and funnels me back to my natural passions again and again. Plus I enjoy figuring out creative self-therapies and productivity workarounds.

More tips on being productive after Adderall

Your todo list and calendar need to be outside your brain

Don’t depend on yourself to remember anything. You need at least one todo list and one calendar that you are religious about adding to and reviewing. At work, I keep a “todo-grid” that includes outstanding actions needed on different projects, and for different bosses. I start and end every day with that todo-grid. And I live and die by Google Calendar (try adding events as “tasks”).

If you find yourself losing trust in your todo list (e.g., because you add things that you know you won’t finish), rework it to be more honest and realistic. You must work to maintain absolute faith in the sacredness and usefullness of your todo lists and calendars.

Proofread

Good post-task proofreading is the ultimate antidote to embarrassing ADD-spaceout errors. Leave time after you finish a task to go back through it and look for errors. You can’t expect to do any task perfectly on the first try; few people can. Accept that you’re going to space out and make a couple errors. Focus less time on obsessing in-task (which leads to more spaceouts anyway) and more time on after-task proofreading. Measure once, cut once, remeasure, trim.

Use the power of adjacency to motivate yourself

Want to write a short story? Read a short story, and it’ll motivate you. Want to design something or paint something? Browse dribble or an art site.

No more cheating sleep.

7-8 hours of sleep, no exceptions. You can’t cheat sleep anymore. It was optional on Adderall; now it’s the core of everything. In my experience, every hour I miss of sleep is 10% off my focus for the next 24 hours.

Separate planning from action

As mentioned earlier, planning is taxing on your brain (see the book Your Brain at Work for more on this). If you keep stopping work to re-plan, you’re burning resources. Plan first, really think through the task ahead, then begin.

Add anxiety

Up to a point, anxiety improves performance because it is stimulating. Too much anxiety, and your performance suffers. Find the right balance. Creating races and sprinting towards rewards can be a fun way add healthy anxiety to any task.

Aim your cold-barrel shot carefully

Snipers refer to the “cold-barrel shot” as the first shot through the rifle in a day of shooting. It’s also potentially the most accurate shot, because the barrel hasn’t warped and expanded from heat yet. The first task you choose to do in a day sets the tone for the entire rest of the day. Choose it wisely, and pull it up as soon as you sit down. Even if you pull up your project first, poke at it for 2 minutes, then minimize it and watch Youtube videos with your coffee, it matters that you pulled your work up first. That will orient your day’s gravity towards your project, because you’ve effectively already broken the barrier of “starting.”

Stayfocused browser extension

The Stayfocused browser extension is a timer that cuts off your access to websites you identify as your slack-off sites. It’s smartly built and wonderfully devious about preventing your from getting around it (i.e., you can’t “allow” a site you’ve previously blocked after your timer has run out for the day). This extension single-handledly broke my reddit addiction, or at least limited it.

Write out problems when you get stuck

When you feel stunned and demotivated by a complex problem, stop and write out the details of the problem. Often, a solution will pop out magically. As Einstein said: “If I were given 1 hour to save the world, I would spend 50 minutes defining the problem.”

Writing out the problem counts as working on it; worrying about it doesn’t.

Reduce physical transitions

Physical transitions break your focus like nothing else. Even walking into the kitchen for a snack can reset your entire task-brain. Keep transitions to an absolute minimum. Except when you’ve gone off task; then resetting your brain with a transition can be helpful.

Defend your focus to the death

You have to fight to protect your focus. When you suddenly find that you’re not getting anything done, despite the hours you’re putting in, regroup and fight for focus. Slash distraction. Work somewhere else. Put off some immediate fire until later. Whatever you have to do.

Manage your emotions while working

Intrusive, negative thoughts (e.g., doubts about your self-efficacy, anxiety about getting the project done) are a normal part of completing complex tasks. Everyone has them. Part of becoming a better performer is becoming skilled a managing these emotions, so you can stay motivated long enough to perform well on the task. All the task commitment in the world won’t help you perform well if you’re chastising yourself the entire time.

Negative emotions hinder problem-solving. Monitor yourself: Make your work about focus, creativity, and problem-solving; not about establishing your worth as a person.

Keep it about the task. If you can learn to do that (control your emotions so you can stay focused), you will have developed a skill that many people (ADD or not) are weak on.

A final note

Quitting Adderall was, so far, the most catastrophically good decision I ever made for fueling my creativity and putting my life back on course. I don’t think it’s a path that can benefit everybody, but if you have a dream, and it feels like you need to quit Adderall to reach it, then go for it. But don’t be ashamed to stay on it or reduce your dose either. Your happiness, your goals, and your artistic hunger are your ends; do not factor the stigma of being medicated into your decision.

19 Responses to “A Bunch of Random Tips for Quitting Adderall”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Completely on point:)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not sure why it is showing anonymous. It is tinybuddha.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Great article!

  4. Eric says:

    This is an awesome guide! I think it will be very helpful for me as I try to quit Adderall again. I would just add daily Tyrosine and Tryptophan supplements to restore the dopamine and serotonin that Adderall depletes.

    A couple grams of each every day (Tyrosine in the morning since it gives you energy, Tryptophan at night since it gets turned into melatonin and makes you sleepy) has always helped me recover much quicker when I’ve quit in the past, and I think they’re something everyone trying to quit Adderall should know about. I recommend doing some research on them, especially tyrosine.

  5. Toby McGuire says:

    Your article is very useful and have good knowledgeable content, thanks for the post.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Incredibly helpful article. Thank you.

  7. Jon Snow says:

    Mike,

    You are a fascinating individual who has done much to benefit the lives of others. You use your personal experiences, talents, and energy to serve those facing struggles you have overcome with grace.

    Have you ever considered starting your own religion?

    You’d make a hell of a prophet.

  8. Kent says:

    Im 7 months clean after being on adderall for 4 years.
    Main tips for those thinking of quitting is that life is soooo much better off adderall. Another thing ive just discovered is L-Tyrosine!! Get some, its the precurser for making dopamine, norepinephrine etc and feels very similar to adderall w/no crash….at least for me.Pair it with GABA, L-theanine, caffeine and for me that works awesome. Plus its all natural so your not damaging your body and can live a healthy, balanced life. Killin it at work and life. Thats real success right there 😉

    Stay strong and throw away them pills forever. Trust me, so worth it!!

  9. KC says:

    So your article seems to be awesome so far. I am in a state of confusion right now…like I don’t seem to know if I am addicted, although my gut feeling is definitely leaning me more towards ‘yes’ than ‘no.’ Regardless, what I do know that I don’t want to be on the drug forever, have been off of it for almost a month, and have just started studying for the LSAT (law school).

    Any tips to keep me staying motivated and from giving up would be much appreciated.

    Thanks.

  10. Jill says:

    This is one of the best articles I’ve ever read and so unbelievably helpful. I am on day 7 of being Adderall free and have found this entire website to be my saving grace in this battle. This is definitely one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever set before myself. Each day has gotten a little bit better, but it’s been undeniably hard. The first two days back to work were a blur and it took me hours to complete something that used to take me 10 minutes.it was like my brain just Misfiring. I couldn’t get any of the synapses to connect. Focus will be a battle for a while. But every day has been just a teeny bit more productive than the last one. Each time I think it would be a good idea to refill my prescription since flushing the last of my pills down the toilet, I read something on here. I am looking forward to putting some of these tips to work when I return to the office. I am certain that every time I think It would just be easier to take that magic pill, If I just refer back to these helpful ideas, I will fight the urge and be reminded of the reasons I took the plunge in the first place.I will get through this. I don’t need to be brave, I just need to try.

  11. Jake says:

    I ate like a lion after I quit. But I was mindful of the food I ate and focused on going to the gym. If life is a pendulum, adderall grabbed it on one of its rotations and held it firm and in one position for a long time. When you quit, that pendulum will shoot back the opposite way, then back again. The key I think is listening to your body and putting yourself first. If you need sleep, let yourself. If you are hungry eat. The point is let your body and mind lead and you will eventually find your equilibrium again.

  12. Kate says:

    I’m sorry but I don’t really agree with some of the points in this article. I don’t feel that once you are used to a higher dose that you can simply just “lower your dose” and then everything is rainbows and butterflies again. If the Adderall is a problem, quit. Simple as that. Your future self will thank you for it.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  14. Tommy says:

    I’m week 2 after a decade of 30-60 mg XR / day.
    Finally couldn’t keep up with the insomnia. It was crazy, leading me to drugs like ghb and benzo’s just to get some sort of sleep. I also feel like it hijacked my sexuality, throwing it into overdrive which brung its own set of issues.

    I do miss that rush 20 minutes after taking a dose big time, and am struggling with energy levels but I do feel like some anxiety and depression has elevated somewhat

  15. Fellow says:

    deep. Powerful. One of the best posts I’ve ever read.

  16. Micah says:

    Even in its anonymity, I feel more intrinsically understood and capable than I can properly articulate just now. I am so grateful.

  17. Jacob says:

    Your use of metaphors is brilliant. I want to thank you for taking the time to put into words, as well as perspective in some cases, the concepts I’ve struggled to explain/accept about my behavior. Something else I really appreciated was your recommendation of literature and coping mechanisms. This is hands down the most valuable information I’ve come across. To anyone reading this comment, I would like to recommend another helpful book that dramatically improved my perception, ability, and attitude regarding how to deal with change called “Who Moved My Cheese?” Short, yet powerful read.

    The only thing I’m struggling with is the chaotic nature of my job, and the paramount importance of accuracy. Debating between cold turkey with an explanation of the situation to my boss, or a trying a C-IV prohistamine drug with an off-label use for ADD to aid my alertness. Anyway, thank you again for writing this insightful article.

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  19. Lauren V says:

    THIS. IS. EVERYTHING.

    Honest and heartfelt thank you.

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