Table of Contents:
- Should I quit Adderall?
- What are typical symptoms/side-effects of quitting Adderall?
- How long will it take until I’m back to normal?
- I’ve tried to quit one or more times before, but I couldn’t do it…why not?
- Won’t my life fall apart around me if I quit?
- How can I face losing the approval of everybody whose opinion means so much to me?
- Is quitting as painful and difficult as I expect?
- Will I gain weight if I quit Adderall?
Should I quit Adderall?
Here is a little test for you. Answer these two questions:
- For all the things Adderall empowers you to do, what does it keep you from? What can you NOT do on Adderall?
- If you could have that back, if you could do that again, would it be worth giving up all the other things you CAN do on Adderall for?
If you answered “With all my heart, yes” to question #2, then you’re probably the type of person who will benefit greatly from quitting Adderall.
As an example, my answer to question #1 above would have been “I can’t write (too many tangents), I can’t exercise, and I can’t be myself around my girlfriend.”
For more more on whether you’re ready to quit, be sure to check out 5 Signs that You’re Ready to Quit Adderall
What are typical symptoms/side-effects of quitting Adderall?
- Mild-to-severe depression
- Catastrophic loss of confidence
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Anxiety (about ever being able to function normally again)
- Mental allergy to big and/or creatively-demanding tasks
- Complete inability to concentrate
- Lack of self-descipline
- Near-narcoleptic desire to sleep all the time
- Painful mourning/regret over the years you lost
- Increased appetite
- Increased desire to do physical activities
- Increased interest in social activities
- Sudden hatred of your day job
- Time starts moving painfully slow during work hours
- Hightened sense of humor
- Increased sex drive
- Genuineness, real and lasting growth, deeply true passion, and destiny
How long will it take until I’m back to normal?
Physiologically, it usually takes 2 weeks to a month for the brain to recover from a chemical dependancy (according to my well-respected psychology professor). But the mental battle can last much longer than that.
The longer you spent in “Adderall world”, the more twisted and dependent your reality became, and the more weight this statement has with you: “effort requires Adderall”. It’s all a matter of how long it takes to rid your mind of that concept…to be able to work without being self-conscious about the fact that you’re working without a pill in your system and that’s “unnatural”.
I took Adderall daily for 7 years. As of this writing it’s been a year since my last pill and I’m still working on breaking the “effort requires Adderall” absolute in my head…but I’ve made great progress.
Note also that you’re probably going to have to drastically redefine what “normal” is to you…that’s the scary (and eventually fun) part. If you try to define “normal” as “working at the same productivity level at the same job and same life I had on Adderall” then you’re going to fail. Because the answer there is “never”. You will hit that Adderall-like feeling of productivity and excitement and detail-orientation and confidence again, but only when you find something you truly love…and even then it’s going to take some time.
I tried to quit Adderall before, but I couldn’t do it…why not?
My guess: You were too ambitious. The number one reason most people fail in their first few attempts to quit is because they try to hold onto reins they grabbed on Adderall…They try to maintain their normal productivity level at work, doing the same kind of mentally-demanding work they usually do.
You keep thinking that quitting means tremendous effort, that it means weathering through day after day where every hour is filled with torturous mental discomfort until maybe one day your tolerance for mental pain will be so high that it won’t matter. You think it’s a matter of summoning herculean effort within yourself and maintaining it for an impossible length of time.
You try it that way (the hard way). You skip the pill and start working. You fight the urge to take a pill as hard as you can; noble, awesome person that you are, you keep working through the pain, through the overwhelming sense of futility and lethargy.
You stop every once in a while to open your pill bottle and stare down into it. That little voice whispers: “Why are you putting yourself through this? What’s wrong with working hard? Productivity is virtue. Nobody really cares that you take Adderall. It’s pharmacuetical! You need it! Your life just feels off track because you’re not done working a lot yet, because you’ve made bad decisions regardless of the Adderall. Plus, once you finish this project, then it will be easier to quit…you’ll have plenty of time to quit then…worry about quitting later. This is stupid. This is pointless. You’re making this Adderall thing a way bigger deal than it actually is. Just take the pill. Impress them all with how well you do this project.”
You close the pill bottle and put it away. You stare back at your work. You clinch and tell that little voice to shut up. You push ahead. It’s like holding your breath and trying to run long distance.
As great as you do at first, as noble as your intentions, as committed as you are at the beginning, you always buckle after a week or so. It just gets too heavy. A massive project comes through and all eyes are on you and you say “screw it” and reach for the pill. And then you feel like you just didn’t try hard enough…you just weren’t good enough. Oh well. Not meant to be this time I guess. And then another year goes by.
If that sounds familiar to you, then here’s the secret: you have to accept that you’re going to be worthless for a while and just go with it. And it’s never going to be a convenient time to do that, so might as well start now. You’ll thank yourself later.
The name of the game is “Get through the day without taking a pill”. Not “get through the day and do all your work”. Just “get through the day sitting at your desk”.
For the first few months all I did at work was come in as late as possible, watch South Park episodes online, go on lots of smoke breaks, and take as many phone-based work tasks (e.g., conference calls) as I could from my cellphone so I could walk around outside…and the day was still horribly long. But I got through them. And then they started to be bearable. And then I started to squeeze a little work in.
Won’t my life fall apart around me if I quit?
Your life falling apart is kind of the point. You are quitting adderall because you know there is something very wrong, very false, very off-course about your life…and about you. You are quitting because you mourn the person you might have been if you had spent all these years developing naturally instead of sidetracking yourself into Adderall world. You are quitting because you’re tired of wondering what that life might have looked like — what you might have looked like — and you’re tired of that nagging, convicting feeling that the other life…the one you missed out on…might have been much, much better.
Well, from the first day you get through without Adderall onward, that other person and that other life will come bursting through your current reality at the seams whether your reality likes it or not.
Have you ever watched a horror movie where somebody turns into a warewolf? At first he just knows that something is wrong; something doesn’t feel right. Then he starts itching, scratching his arm with a worried and bewildered look on his face. He starts grunting and convulsing. Then he’s screaming. His skin starts tearing apart…hairy muscles bursting through it. His hands swell and the flesh falls away to reveal gigantic, furry paws…talons grow through his fingertips as his fingernails pop off…he throws his head back and roars as his face contorts and stretches into that of a hideous monster and his teeth extend into demonic fangs, glistening in the moonlight. He is no longer the proper, controlled human man he was a couple of moments ago; he is a snarling beast, exploding with rage and power and animal desire.
Quitting Adderall is kind of like a slow version of that. Except the warewolf underneath is the person you were meant to be and the life you were meant to have…unchained…uncontrolled…unpredictable…wild…powerful.
How can I face losing the approval of everybody whose opinion means so much to me?
By being selfish and saying (to yourself) “I’m sorry, but I’ve just got to do this for me to survive” when it comes down to it…and hoping that one day they’ll understand. But do what you can to lesson your burden on other people. If a coworker needs your help with a task, do what you can to take care of it, even if it takes you 5 times as long and you do it 5 times more shitty and half-assed then you would ever consider doing it on Adderall, and do it with a smile. No reason you have to be a miserable ass while you’re quitting…you can still be helpful and polite to others.
And for the love of God (and for the sake of your relationship), if you have a girlfriend or boyfriend, WARN THEM FIRST. Make sure they understand as fully as possible the burden you are about to put onto them.
Is quitting as painful and difficult as I expect?
Overall, quitting Adderall is not as emotionally painful or difficult as it is emotionally expensive. It’s kind of like stripping yourself naked and lighting everything you own on fire. It can be hard to watch some stuff burn. It can be even harder to discover that you can’t save it…or you try to but don’t save it in time…and then you feel so guilty about the loss.
On your good days you’ll see something that you always held as valuable set ablaze and you’ll be able to remember why you’re doing this…and something inside you will chant maniacally “Burn baby, burn!” knowing that eventually, in the place of this thing you thought was so important to you, will grow something completely new that will suit the new you — the real you — much better. But only a part of you will feel this. The rest of you will be crying in agony.
The average day of your life off-Adderall is like a funeral and a birthday all at the same time.
By far the most pain I’ve ever experienced from quitting adderall has occurred when I tried to hold onto something I should have just let burn…or better yet, poured fuel on. You know everything needs to go; needs to change. Your subconscious knows this. You can try to fight it but it’ll sabotage you every time. In time you will see that what you view as failures, as catastrophes, as tragic losses…were all just making the ground fertile for the beautiful forest that is to come.
You have to believe that. As guilty as you may feel. You know it wasn’t right. Not like it was. Probably not at all. And if it’s a relationship, all parties involved will eventually see that and be happier for it. If it was part of the life you created on Adderall, it was probably false in some way that will be immediately apparent when its new replacement arrives. Perhaps the hardest part is having faith in this sometimes.
Will I gain weight if I quit Adderall?
Usually, yes, you will gain a little weight when you quit Adderall. The good news is though that along with this increased appetite/normal desire to sleep that makes you gain the weight comes a substantially stronger natural urge towards physical activity and excercise.
You may gain a few pounds right after you quit, but soon you’ll be hitting the gym/running BECAUSE YOU WANT TO so it won’t belong before you’re looking better than ever. Adderall can shrink you down in weight to the point where you feel and look unhealthy…it’s a bad skinny. Quit Adderall and through your natural desire to get up and do something you’ll be good skinny.
Seriously, one day after you quit Adderall you’ll be sitting there and all of a sudden you’ll get this overwhelming urge to do something physical. Just follow that urge when it hits and you’ll be in great shape in no time.
When I quit Adderall a year ago I started to exercise immediatly so I never really noticed a weight gain. Nowadays I lift weights 4-5 times a week plus I swim and run…starting to really get the urge to do a sprint triathlon or something. I feel great. I love every minute of my exercise. I actually look forward to it.