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Adderall - Tapering versus quitting cold turkey

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History - short version - want to keep the post manageable: 


I have been taking Adderall since I was 15, I'm 32 now, so that's 17 years of being on it. 

I quit last year for 7 months, and I was depressed, gained 40 lbs, was completely unmotivated and slept all day long. I quit for the wrong reasons last year and now I'm ready to get off of it again. 

After 7 months of being stimulant free, I got on Modafinil for a year.

In the last 6 weeks, I got back on Adderall.

The results are tragic, I started taking more than prescribed again. 


I am trying to understand the mechanisms of quitting and if tapering might be better and have more success in the long term. 


If anyone has done research before and has links to studies, I would greatly appreciate if if you could share it. I'm doing my own research, but all the help is appreciated. 


I have a few science type questions:


1. How long does it take for the dopamine or neurotransmitters in general to replenish once they have been depleted because of Adderall? Is serotonin affected too or is it just dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine?


2. Will the body adjust itself to the amount of dopamine provided to it via gradual tapering before it will start making dopamine/neurotransmitters on its own? As in, it will start increasing the percentage it makes, once I decrease Adderall gradually.


3. Does the amount of time that dopamine has been depleted from the body have anything to do with the amount of time it will take to replenish it? For ex, if took it for 17 years, versus 2 years, will the body replenish it slower if it's been given Adderall for a longer time?


4. What are all the substitutes for dopamine and what are their effects on the body? meaning supplements, herbal remedies, things that when used as a natural replacement, that have less/no side effects etc. What combinations of these natural supplements/herbs have helped you the most?


5. What kind of time frame have you been on these natural replacements for and with what result?


6. If anyone has been on Adderall for a long time, similarly with my time frame of 17 years, and is now Adderall free, can you please share what happened after 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, particularly with A. motivation B. depression C. weight gain.

I'm trying to figure out a timeframe of when people start feeling "normal" again, so I can set my expectations correctly. I know that it all depends on a lot of things, but any and all examples of your personal experience are greatly appreciated. 

I know it's a long road, but it would be comforting to know how far ahead the light at the end of the tunnel is. 


7. Is there a blood test for dopamine / neurotransmitter levels that can be done with a doctor? Is there a test (saliva or urine maybe) that can be bought on the internet and does not require a doctor visit? What are the specific names/links for each?


Big thank you for your help and insights. I cannot tell you how helpful this website has been to me in my process. 

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I wish i had some information for you but I have no experience with adderall on such a long time span.


But 7 months is really awesome that you did it (as you can see I'm not quite there myself yet).  I can relate to the weight gain.  It is SO HARD to get those flabby pounds off.


If you quit once before for so longyou can certainly do it again.  I don't know how long it takes to get back to normal exactly but as far as I know some of the key factors are


1) duration of use (long in your case)

2) age (but you are still quite young this is good!)

3) dosage (not specified)


Good luck to you in your quest I have faith in you!

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Honestly, I don't know of anyone who has successfully tapered.  Especially if you have abused it.   Cold turkey seems to be the way to go. 


I imagine your brain would start healing gradually and producing/re-sensitizing itself to dopamine during a taper.  That's probably why people quit all kinds of psych drugs on a taper.   But your brain also heals cold turkey (probably faster.)  


I'm pretty sure all those brain chemicals you mentioned are involved, including serotonin. 


Light at the end of the tunnel has no definite location but I imagine that having been on those pills for so long, your journey might be a longer one.  I am not sure.  After 6 months I felt better, at 9 months, at 12 months, at 2 years..... I'm at 2 years 8 months now and I feel better but still deal with depression, motivation, etc.  I took it for a total of like 5-6 years of my life (with a quit in the middle.) 


Sorry I can't be more helpful.  But my vote is cold turkey.  And I wish you luck in your journey :) Welcome!

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