How to Restore your Dopamine Receptors after Years of Adderall Use and Abuse

The following is a guest post from Nootropics University.

Dopamine is the primary pleasure neurotransmitter used by the brain to signal that an activity is good, healthy or necessary, and that it should be repeated.

Dopamine is used for focus, memory, maintaining mood, thinking accurately, and having energy, both physical and mental.

With dopamine functioning as such an important neurotransmitter to the body, mind, and homeostasis of humans, it’s no wonder that many nootropics, or “Smart Drugs” would tap into this powerful neurotransmitter as a way of improving cognition.

A common type of “Smart Drug” used that does this to a significant extent, is Adderall, and while it is a legitimate prescription used for those dealing with ADHD and ADD, it is also used widely on college campuses and in high pressure jobs as a way of improving brain function.

I chose to write this article because of the growing prevalence of Adderall in these types of settings, and to not only warn about the dangers that regular use or abuse of the drug can cause, but also to give hope to those dealing with the addiction to this powerful amphetamine.

Through proper amino acid supplementation, and stretches of sobriety, recovery and having full brain function again is possible.

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is the primary pleasure chemical, released during natural activities, such as when you accomplish a feat (getting a promotion at work, falling in love etc. In further centuries back, it was put in place in the brain for things like bringing home a good hunt or acquiring status in the tribe) eat, drink, exercise, have sex, or go to sleep.

Things that naturally feel good are what dopamine is supposed to be used for, and when dopamine is artificially increased by a drug, and especially a powerful amphetamine like Adderall, there is going to be a downregulation (less dopamine is naturally produced) after the initial high.

With this downregulation, more and more of the drug is needed to produce the same effect, and a certain amount of the drug is constantly needed to maintain a baseline level of dopamine, as if the drug is not taken, downregulation is still present.

This is how tolerance and withdrawal occurs, more of the drug is needed to produce the same effect (since receptors are already downregulated) and whenever the drug isn’t taken, your receptors are trying to recover themselves, and less dopamine is available to the brain.

You can read more about this phenomenon here.

How Adderall Affects Dopamine

Adderall affects this neurotransmitter by blocking the reuptake of dopamine. Now, while this may sound confusing, it’s more simple than you might think.

Dopamine functions in a kind of recycling system (naturally at least) in which it flows to specific parts of the brain where it is needed, and then comes right back to the receptors.

When you take Adderall, the drug blocks part of the natural loop, and not only forces the receptor to work in overtime, pumping out far more than a natural amount of dopamine (it never reuptakes, so it just keeps pumping until the Adderall runs out) but it pushes almost all of it to the frontal lobes.

Now, depending on what you’re taking Adderall for, this is both good and bad. If you’re trying to study, it’s good because the normal area of the brain you use for focus and learning is now absolutely caked with dopamine, so studying is not only easier, but also fun and interesting.

While this will get the job done, after the drug wears off, your dopamine receptors are exhausted, and require a certain amount of time to recover.

The more often you take the drug, and the higher dosages you take, the longer it takes to recover. The more of the drug you take, the more you’ll also need next time to maintain the same level of effects, this causes side effects as well as a dangerous spiral towards tolerance, withdrawal, and an inability to function without the drug. This is how addiction begins.

Now, for those taking it for a legitimate reason, such as ADHD, the drug makes the user calm, and if a normal dosage is taken under the supervision of a doctor, it can be a Godsend for individuals struggling to focus-a standard dosage however needs to be maintained.

Supplements that Help, Amino Acids that Literally Create Dopamine

For those on the other end of the spectrum however, those individuals who are taking the drug regularly and can’t seem to stop, there’s hope!

A few supplements have been shown to increase a brain’s natural ability to create dopamine.

Dopamine is created by amino acids, and the usual route to making the neurotransmitter is Phenylalanine>>L-Tyrosine>>L-Dopa>>Dopamine, so the supplements L-Tyrosine and L-Dopa are the closest things to straight dopamine.

As such they are the best supplements for recovering your brains reward centers to a natural level after Adderall use and abuse. Kind of like “Adderall detox supplements”.

My pick, while this may sound strange at first, is L-tyrosine. Straight L-Dopa can only be found by prescription, and most vendors that sell it are selling Mucuna Pruriens, a plant that contains a small amount of L-dopa.

L-Tyrosine however, can be taken at high dosages, like 1000-5000 milligrams per day (this one is pretty good – high quality no-nonsense clean high potency product), even as much as 2-3 times that much with no real side effects (if you actually need it and you’re taking it throughout the day.)

Do not take this on top of Adderall as it can cause some serious side effects, for off-days when you’re going through a horrible withdrawal however, L-Tyrosine, and its XR version N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, can absolutely be your best friends.

There are also a handful of natural nootropic “stacks” (combinations of different supplements), which function as natural substitutes for amphetamines like Adderall.

While sobriety is the best medicine, Tyrosine mixed with sobriety can speed up the process of recovery.

How they Speed Up Recovery

These supplements speed up recovery to a significant degree by improving the brain’s natural ability to create dopamine.

When you supplement L-Tyrosine in moderate to high doses (or any of these supplements for that matter) the brain has more materials to work with, and thus can get back to a baseline level of dopamine faster.

Some rehab centers that are on the more advanced side have even started using amino acid injection regimens to help their patients to recover faster.

In these instances, a cocktail of amino acids is administered to the patient intravenously to help the brains receptors recover more quickly. This is known as NRT, or “Neurotransmitter Restoration Therapy” and in clinical studies, has been shown to significantly help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce tolerance and cravings, and speed up recovery time.

How Long will it Take to Fully Recover my Dopamine Receptors?

This entirely depends on the user, how much of the drug you’ve been taking and for how long.

For example, someone taking 60-90 milligrams of Adderall per day for around a year can expect a 6-12 month withdrawal period, with the first 30 days consisting of sharp withdrawal symptoms, and the rest consisting of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, or PAWS, in which withdrawal comes in waves.

If you or a loved one is dealing with Adderall addiction, don’t quit and keep pushing, recovery is possible and with the right supplements, it is now faster than ever before. For more information, checkout the sources below, and good luck!


Adderall Tolerance Sucks: Here’s What You Can Do About It


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Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 15 comments
RucaRose - June 2, 2017

I just want to thank you for just speaking straight, clear and to the point. I love your intro/explanation of dopamine. Over the years I have read countless articles regarding adderall affect on dopamine, and although, I enjoy the scientific “mumbo jumbo”. Alot of people don’t have the interest or the ability to sponge up what Dr.Knowitall is spilling, but your writing was verbally painting a clear picture, all the while enjoyable, easy like sunsay morning lingo, people need this complex red meat info broken down into easy to digest info. In short, good job!

    Verlin - March 26, 2018

    I agree, this was one of the clearest explanations I’ve read.

Adrian Belmans - June 17, 2017

Just want to post this to see if the reaction before me could be fake or not…

Tbee - September 26, 2017

Thank you very much for your article. You brought hope back into my life.

Mike - October 4, 2017

God bless you!

you broke everything down to perfect details and mental demonstrations….every other site use super advanced scientific words with clusterf**k amount of paragraphs that eventually you lose interest in completing. Your article however painted a clear labeled picture and now I know exactly what I was looking for and my 3 years worth of questions all got answered.

Thank You alooootttttttt!!!

Tammy Shrable - October 28, 2017

I have been off and on so many different kinds of antidepressants and psychtropics it isn’t funny. My brain is so damaged from using these drugs. My only hope for recovery is to continue to believe in Jesus Christ to help me come off of these drugs slowly and to heal naturally. These drugs have taken away my family. My ability to comprehend reading. My natural feeling of sleep. Horrible head pains. I am currently taking 1.5 mg of respiridpne, .5 mg of colonipine and a lunesta tablet at bedtime. I want so bad to come off of these drugs and to heal. Does anybody have a similar story? I have taken probably a dozen different kinds of these meds over the past 20 years.

Swansea - October 29, 2017

After reading this, I am completely terrified of the damage I may have caused my brain by abusing adderall for 10 years. I have been taking 40-60 mgs of 3-5xs a day. I built up a tolerance hence the high dose.

Are there any tests I can do to see if I’m okay? I know I can’t get out of bed without adderall and I get unorganized and unmotivated when I stop.

I’m on Vyanese as of 1 week.

Please help.

    David - September 25, 2018

    I don’t know if you will see this or not, but i am currently in the exact same situation. i have taken 120-180 mg a day for years. i’m completely terrified of the potential damage i have done to my dopamine receptors. i went a full year without any about 4 years ago and still didnt feel normal. i ended up taking 1 after a year of sobriety and have been hooked again ever since, but even worse than before. i struggle to complete very basic tasks without it, and sleep 16 hours per day.

    i wanted to see how you have been doing since you posted this…really hoping you see this.just know that you are not alone. hang in there.
    – Dave

Needsoutweighthewants - November 5, 2017

Hi, I’m in the same boat as Swansea. I’ve been taking adderall/ vyvanse/ dexadrine for 12 years straight and I recently am unfortunately dependent on Xanax to sleep. The Xanax use started about a couple years ago roughly. Sometimes I try and sleep without Xanax and I wake up (if I even sleep) feeling zombie like and loopy, unmotivated, and very apathetic. If there’s a visual x-ray test that can show me how much damage this has all done to my brain, that might motivate me ? I don’t know. I used to be happy with the person I was and I was sober had a good social life, now I lost it all because of this and I can tell how I’ve changed over the years. Way slower, more depressed, no hope in anything, completely unmotivated, in fact what hurts me the most is 1. My family sees this and they know what’s wrong with me and I try but can’t make them proud as I see hurt in they’re eyes. 2. I’ve always had a passion for playing music; guitar. Over the years I have honestly gotten way worse skillfully. I see myself sinking but I don’t know how to be sober and be the person that I used to be. So please let us know if there are any tests to get visuals on a before and after shot of the damage it’s already done to my brain. Thank you guys.

Dre - November 10, 2017

Thank for this article ,, its just right on track
Although, i have not been on drugs for up to a year but i think there are some other habit that might have caused decreased in dopamine levels like , Alcohol ,weed and sex addiction…I have been trying to stay off these things for 2 weeks now and also started taking vit b1,b2,b3,b6 n b12 and some other fruits ,, for the first 1 weeks i felt like i have gotten my life back but recently i started having some symptoms relating to how i used to feel before , like being not focused, motivated, memory loss ,, i dont even have feeling for my gf anymore or even been able to stay up to work for several hours like i used to do . please i just need to know if this is caused due to withdrawal or the drugs

Verlin - March 26, 2018

Dan, and everybody..
I’m hopeful that this will be very helpful to me. I am currently diagnosed with mild narcolepsy. I under doctor’s care for it & take only 7.5mg Adderall 2x/day for it. I used to be diagnosed with ADHD but it was changed. Honestly, it’s all a little confusing though, I’m not sure what came first though… did I genuinely have the problems or was I addicted to drugs which caused the problems “seemingly” when I didn’t have it in my system. I think some of both. I remember way back, when I was still an innocent, sitting in class really wanting to pay attention & learn and yet my mind would suddenly be miles away & then I’d be frustrated having missed important explanations. Later in life, I was introduced by people I trusted (my stupidity though) to various drugs, including amphetamines. Next thing I know, I can’t pay attention or stay awake without it. Also, when I try not to take it I am incredibly emotional & irrational – very bad for my marriage (that I definitely want to be in). Saying that, it’s very scary for me to try to come off because my husband is incredible & doesn’t deserve to have to deal with me like that. Also, I have a great job I love & don’t want to mess up – been there almost 4 yrs.
I’m on such a low dose now, due to gradually working my way down. But I can’t seem to be without it all together.

I guess I’m just wanting feedback. Should I stop worrying & just stay on the low dose? Or is it critical that I get off somehow? I truly would rather be off.

I’m a chiropractic tech, have quite a healthy lifestyle otherwise. Don’t drink anymore, only take natural herbs & supplements & eat healthy.

Thank you everyone,

Skyla - April 1, 2018

Thank you for the wonderful in site. I have been diagnosed with ADD for 21yrs, and have used adderall to control my symptoms. I know have a knew psych. that feels that my prefrontal cortex has developed enough that I don’t need my medication anymore. That is all well and fine with me. I would like to be able to function without my medication, but the psych. Desided to take me off without any help to ease the dependancy symptoms. I don’t feel fully awake anymore. I guess that’s because I have depended on my medication for so long. Has anyone else had an experience like mine? What did you do to help you?

Cora - July 10, 2018

I just like to know if my dopamine receptors can heal at all from stopping psychiatric meds cold turkey. I feel like they are not absorbing nutrients or supplements as well as they did before taking any pharmaceutical drugs. I am hoping they are not severely damage, but what happened when I stopped cold turkey is the area at the side of temples suffered burning sensations and electrical shocks and everything in my head tighten and at the side of the heads (temples) received most traumatic pain. I am hoping there is hope of recovery for me. When I stopped all drugs, I did so for 60 days and left my brain burning for so long and at same time never slept, couldn’t, my brain wouldn’t let me, I couldn’t even close my eyelids. Finally after 60 days of torture I had no choice but to go on one med to help me sleep. I still feel like I am missing the relaxation response in that area, and the ability to feel emotions and sleep.

    Jacob - October 17, 2018

    Okay if anyone is reading this post do. Not. Stop. Psychiatric. Medications. Cold. Turkey. You titrated up on them. You should titrate down off them. And please have a doctor help you with the titration, yes it takes a long time but it’s your brain we’re talking about here. Your ability to think, feel, and make thoughtful decisions are worth the wait.
    Cora, your getting brain zaps which suck, I’m sorry. You probably feel numb because you’ve shocked your brain by the sudden change in chemical additives. If you’re at 60 days you’ve reached the end of the withdrawal symptoms but you still need time to recover. Depending on how long you were taking the medication and how high the dosages it can sometimes be upwards of a year to fully recover. Eat right, sleep well, and exercise and you should be right as rain come summer. (Also talk to your psychiatrist about if there’s other things you can do, they went to school for a long time to learn all about these situations.)

Ken W. - August 27, 2023

I’m grateful for your article and research. As I’m about to embark on the painful and scary journey in recovering from adderall abuse. I’m 48 years old and didn’t been using it until age 43. I was going through a business and marriage failure when I began using it. An ex-investor/friend in my business a cardiologist if all things wrote the script and insisted I take it so I could work more and find a solution. Well it certainly gave me the lift I needed in a horrible time if my life. It didn’t however save the business. I became dependent on it to keep me going ever sense. I was in very good shape until the last few years. I was an athlete my whole life. I’m beginning to have dizzy spells, lapse in memory, muscle wasting and skin issues. I’ve been taking 40 to 150 mg per day. On and off for 5 years. I went through stretches I didn’t use it for as long as 3 months. I certainly wanted it though… I’ve no doubt I’ve done damage to both my nuru and cardio systems. By the grace of god I can still exercise for a sold hour and have decent strength. However, I’m absolutely seeing and feeling the effects. I’ve not mentioned the fact it’s been causing me major issue with paranoia, perception and in all my personal and professional relationships.

I spent the last few hours researching what I can do to help ease the withdrawal and cravings. As well as what’s out there in a safer / more natural format to help me repair as much damage as possible. To coul with a health diet, good sleep patterns, regular exercise and CBT therapy. What I found here is remarkable. If anyone has advice concerning how I should stack, safest and most trusted brands and place to buy please reach out to me. Thanks Ken


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