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- Adderall Neurotoxicity: How To Protect Your Brain
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- Adderall Comedown? 10 Tips to Bounce Back After the Crash
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In this guide, we’ll arm you with some practical, actionable tips to ease the Adderall comedown quickly and help you make a full recovery.
During an Adderall comedown, you're probably:
- sleep deprived
- physically exhausted but mentally hyperactive
- malnourished and dehydrated
You wish you could defrag your brain (sleep), but your brain doesn’t have an off switch. Adrenaline is still coursing through your veins. Maybe you have a headache and haven’t eaten for hours.
For some, the Adderall comedown may be intolerable enough to warrant investigating OTC Adderall alternatives. An increasingly popular prescription alternative to Adderall is Modafinil. Here's a post comparing the two drugs.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details, we’re going to clarify the difference between an Adderall comedown vs withdrawal.
The Adderall Comedown
What’s the difference between the Adderall crash and withdrawal?
The comedown phase is the period of time after the effects of the drug have worn off or are beginning to wear off.
Instant release (IR) Adderall lasts about 6 hours in terms of subjective effects, though it lingers in your system for longer. (The half-life of Adderall is 10-12 hours, so the amphetamine comedown occurs before the drug is actually out of your system).
Six hours after dosing, you may notice a dip in energy level. At this stage, I tend to experience irritability, moodiness, and difficulty concentrating.
If you're trying to sleep after crashing from using stimulants during the day, you might experience insomnia, despite feeling worn out. Also known as “tired and wired.”
I’m sensitive to amphetamines and would sometimes feel like a shell of a human being at the end of the day after using Adderall.
These are the symptoms that characterize the Adderall comedown.
Adderall withdrawal refers more to the cluster of symptoms that develop from abrupt cessation after chronic Adderall use. During this period, your brain and body are adapting to the absence of the stimulant, and your catecholamines are depleted.
Some psychopharmacologists might argue that an Adderall comedown is technically just amphetamine withdrawal. I beg to differ. Withdrawal from amphetamines is better characterized by depression, anergy, anhedonia, and brain fog. An Adderall comedown is more acute, and involves symptoms like insomnia and irritability.
What Are the Symptoms of Crashing from Amphetamines?
The symptoms of Adderall (amphetamine) withdrawal are caused by the global depletion of catecholamines. Catecholamines are neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine.
The half-life of Adderall is 10-12 hours. During an Adderall crash, a significant amount of amphetamine will still be in your system. So the crash isn’t so much about the absence of, and a craving for, amphetamine. It’s about feeling “tired and wired.” A state of excessive stimulation, and needing to recharge your batteries (sleep, eat, drink, relax).
In addition to the 10 tips below, I also recommend supplementing L-tyrosine at the end of the day.
L-tyrosine is a non-essential dietary amino acid that’s converted to L-DOPA, which is converted to dopamine. L-tyrosine isn’t really strong enough to produce any effects you might experience from Adderall, but it will help regenerate dopamine reserves. Dopamine is stored in vesicles in the cytoplasm of dopaminergic neurons. These dopamine reserves are depleted from Adderall use.
The most cost-effective way to obtain L-tyrosine is from PowderCity.
Adderall Comedown Recovery
Here's what you can do to feel 100% again after an Adderall crash:
#1 If you’re currently working, stop or take a break
Following this advice may not be possible if you're on the job. If that's the case, don't fret and skip to tip #2.
Adderall is a pretty powerful psychostimulant. It can make it easy to lose track of time and spend an excessive amount of time on a project.
During an amphetamine crash, this enthusiasm fades, but you might still be tempted to keep working. Resist the temptation to be productive during an amphetamine crash, and let your brain rest.
#2 Create a relaxing environment
- Create an ambiance of relaxation in your immediate environment (e.g. living room)
- Light some candles or burn some non-carcinogenic incense (if you’re into that kind of thing)
- Turn the lights down and play some soothing tunes
- Take an NSAID (like aspirin) to relieve an amphetamine-related headache
- Put life stressors on hold
- Stay cool (stimulants can overheat your body), but keep your hands and feet warm. Stimulants may cause your blood vessels to temporarily constrict, making your hands and feet feel cold.
#3 Make sure you’ve had something substantial to eat
Adderall has powerful appetite suppressing effects, especially if you haven’t developed tolerance to the effects of the drug. It’s easy to forget to eat while under the influence of amphetamines. And when the drug wears off you’re left irritable and hypoglycemic (with low blood sugar).
Eat something that contains protein, even if you don’t feel hungry. It is important to maintain normal blood sugar. Eating can mitigate some of the negative effects of acute Adderall withdrawal. It goes without saying that the combination of hypoglycemia and Adderall withdrawal can really shock your body.
#4 Use Vitamin C and cranberry juice to purge your system
First, eliminate residual amphetamine from your system so you can get a good night’s sleep.
There are a couple ideas about how to promote amphetamine clearance after daytime stimulant use. If you're a chemist, you’ll know that amphetamine has a basic amine group. By acidifying the urine, we can protonate this amine group so that a greater fraction of the amphetamine molecules become positively charged. This charged fraction will be more water soluble and more easily cleared by the kidneys.
Cranberry juice and vitamin C may help acidify the urine and promote Adderall clearance. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant that crosses the blood brain barrier and helps protect the brain from oxidative stress related to amphetamine use. Read more about how I use vitamin C with Adderall here.
The most cost-effective source of vitamin C is from PowderCity.
#5 Ease the comedown with natural anxiolytics
The following natural anxiolytics can help safely take the edge off.
Sleepy time tea ingredients like valerian and chamomile can help facilitate a relaxed state of mind.
|Melatonin||Neurohormone/chronobiotic that binds to MT1 and MT2 receptors in the brain to promote sleep and regulate circadian rhythym. Naturally secreted during nighttime. Melatonin also protects against some of the neurotoxic effects of Adderall.|
|Magnesium||Magnesium will reduce neuronal hyper-excitability by transiently blocking glutamate receptors in the brain.|
|L-Theanine||L-Theanine is a naturally occurring analog of the amino acids glutamate and glutamine. Abundant in green tea and may help relieve anxiety, insomnia and promote relaxation. It is commonly used in conjunction with caffeine and other stimulants because it reduces the edginess that is sometimes associated with psychostimulant use.|
|Glycine||There’s some evidence that glycine improves sleep quality.|
|5-HTP||5-HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan is the precursor to serotonin; serotonin may counterbalance some of the excessive dopaminergic effects of Adderall.|
|Lavender||Lavender is a natural anxiolytic with some promising double-blind, placebo-controlled trials supporting its use.|
Melatonin can be especially helpful during acute Adderall withdrawal or during comedown.
Melatonin has been shown to reduce circulating adrenaline and noradrenaline. If you’re interested in doing some research on this phenomenon, take a look at this paper: Influence of exogenous melatonin on catecholamine levels.
Some may want to resort to prescription hypnotics like benzodiazepines. This is not a good long-term solution for many reasons.
Benzodiazepines are associated with worrisome side effects, like cognitive impairment. However, the use of benzodiazepines are not directly contraindicated by amphetamine use.
#6 Take a bath (it works!)
(This tip does not apply if you're overheating or have taken a large dose of amphetamine. It’s actually best to stay cool while you’re under the influence of Adderall).
Adderall causes peripheral vasoconstriction. Blood vessels in your extremities (arms and legs) become constricted. This peripheral vasoconstriction will make your extremities feel cold and increase your blood pressure and make the amphetamine crash even more unpleasant.
Taking a bath will help alleviate peripheral vasoconstriction since blood vessels tend to relax and dilate when the environment is warm to regulate body temperature. A warm bath will lower your blood pressure and can help alleviate Adderall comedown-induced headaches and Reynaud’s syndrome (poor circulation in the hands and feet).
One Finnish study suggests that frequent sauna bathing may have a protective effect against dementia. But an important confounding factor is that sauna usage in Finland is a highly social activity, and socialization itself has a protective effect against dementia.
#7 Stress relief is paramount
Some tried-and-tested tips to relieve stress:
- Listen to relaxing music
- Take a sabbatical from work
- Binge watch a nature show like Blue Planet
- Take a walk and immerse yourself in nature
- Draw and paint
- Slowly prepare and drink green tea to wind down
- Practice deep-breathing exercises and meditation
- Buy a desk plant
- Create a relaxing environment (e.g., candles)
If insomnia is extreme, consider taking a sleep aid
You might consider using prescription hypnotics to address the symptoms of an Adderall comedown if you’re in a pinch. Examples of hypnotics include:
- z-drugs like Ambien or Lunesta
- melatonin-mimetics like Rozerem
- orexin blockers like Belsomra.
- Here’s a review comparing Ambien and Belsomra.
Phenibut is also available over the counter and has been reported to be helpful. Like benzodiazepines, Phenibut is associated with dependence and withdrawal, although to a lesser extent than benzodiazepines.
#9 Exercise, exercise, exercise
Studies have unambiguously confirmed that exercise facilitates recovery from psychostimulant use and abuse alike. That being said, it can be very difficult to muster the energy to exercise during the acute phase of Adderall withdrawal or an Adderall comedown. Even low-key activities that engage the cardiovascular system like walking on a treadmill are beneficial. In other words, you don’t have to run a marathon or become a professional bodybuilder to take advantage of the health benefits of exercise.
#10 Protect yourself from amphetamine neurotoxicity
This post on Adderall neurotoxicity prevention also has some helpful advice about how to protect your brain while using Adderall. Here’s the abbreviated version of the list of supplements/nutraceuticals show promise in protecting against amphetamine neurotoxicity:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Cold temperatures
- NSAIDS (like aspirin)
- NMDA receptor antagonists (like magnesium or memantine)
- Pretreatment with lower doses of amphetamine
- Avoiding alcohol
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine and Selenium (Brazil nuts are selenium-rich)
- Green tea phytochemicals
- The antibiotic minocycline (experimental)
#11 Supplement the Dietary Amino Acid L-tyrosine
Amphetamines deplete dopamine stores. That’s because amphetamines are dopamine-releasing agents.
L-tyrosine is a precursor to L-DOPA, which is a precursor to dopamine.
Dopamine depletion contributes to the Adderall comedown. Supplemental l-tyrosine is a great way to replenish dopamine and help your brain recover.
See my article on the right way to use L-tyrosine to replenish dopamine stores.
Adderall Comedown: Conclusion
The key to recovering after an amphetamine crash is to rest your brain. Sleep, eat, hydrate yourself, and take supplements that will facilitate a state of relaxation.