Focalin Withdrawal Symptoms And Timeline

Last Updated: June 3, 2020

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

Dexmethylphenidate causes changes in the brain’s chemical milieu, such that abruptly quitting or cutting back on its intake could trigger dexmethylphenidate withdrawal. However, while these effects are rarely fatal, they could cause severe discomfort as to lead to relapse from a failed attempt at Focalin detox. This article explains how withdrawal to the substance develops and how to prevent them in a safe dexmethylphenidate detox program.

Focalin Withdrawal: Overview

Dexmethylphenidate is a prescription drug sold with the brand name Focalin. But is Focalin a stimulant? Yes, it is one of the stimulant drugs, all of which are classified as a schedule II controlled substance because of their strong abuse and addiction potential. This potential for dependence and tolerance results from the changes the element makes to the brain, increasing the risk of withdrawal when discontinued.
Focalin works by preventing the uptake and breakdown of two brain chemicals or neurotransmitters – dopamine and norepinephrine. This increases the amounts of these chemicals in the brain’s nerve spaces. Ever asked: how does Focalin high feel like? These chemicals are responsible for that: when in large amounts in nerve spaces, dopamine and norepinephrine cause a rush of euphoria, a feeling of self-confidence, and high energy levels.
When an individual continues to take the drug, especially in large doses, the brain reduces how much of these chemicals it produces.

An alternative to dexmethylphenidate – methylphenidate – also works in this manner and causes similar symptoms. Dexmethylphenidate vs. methylphenidate: The dexmethylphenidate is an HCI isomer of methylphenidate, which has more efficacy and fewer side effects than methylphenidate.
People who use therapeutic doses of the drug are not likely to develop detox symptoms while detoxing because the dosage and duration of intake may be insufficient to alter how the brain produces the chemicals.

Signs and Symptoms of Focalin Withdrawal

The severity of Focalin withdrawal symptoms depends on certain factors, including how long someone has been using it and how much the individual takes regularly. The severity of symptoms also depend on the type of dexmethylphenidate used: Focalin XR withdrawal symptoms may develop slowly and less severe compared to the immediate release forms.

Common symptoms one experiences with discontinuation of dexmethylphenidate include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Changes in blood pressure and heart rate
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Severe weakness and fatigue

In severe cases of withdrawal from Focalin – typically after prolonged abuse – an individual may develop suicidal tendencies.

woman suffering from Focalin withdrawal

Withdrawal Timeline of Dexmethylphenidate

The timeline for withdrawal from Focalin, just as the severity of its symptoms, depends on the duration and dosage of the drug that was used. However, symptoms generally last for one to three weeks and progress in this pattern:

  • Day 1 to 2: During this period, the individual typically experiences mild symptoms such as nausea, fatigue, mood changes, cravings, and altered heart rate.
  • Days 3 to 7: Three to seven days after the last dose of Focalin, the individual experiences depression, severe fatigue and exhaustion, irritability, increased appetite, and cravings, sleep disturbances, and severe anxiety.
  • Days 7 to 14: During this period, the symptoms begin to improve slowly. However, most individuals may still experience depressive symptoms and sleep disturbances.
  • Days 14 to 21: During this period, the symptoms have generally improved, but most individuals will still experience depression.

Dexmethylphenidate XR withdrawal symptoms may not manifest on time because of the longer Focalin half-life, making these extended-release tablets stay longer in the system.

Prevention of Focalin Withdrawal

The best way to prevent dexmethylphenidate withdrawal symptoms is to reduce the dose gradually. Sudden discontinuation of the drug will send the brain into a depressive mode, as the stimulant neurotransmitters – dopamine and norepinephrine – are suddenly depleted.

Weaning off Focalin is best done in a detox center, where there are professionals who are trained in addiction medicine and detoxification. These professionals will help the individual taper the dosage of dexmethylphenidate. The patient will be closely monitored for compliance and to manage the detox symptoms when they present.

What is the Detox Process for Focalin?

Dexmethylphenidate detox is best done by medical professionals who will instruct the patient on dexmethylphenidate dosage to take per time. The professional will instruct the addict to take lower and lower doses of Focalin until the drug can be safely discontinued. This can also be done in the detox facility where the individual will be closely monitored.

In addition to controlling the side effects of dexmethylphenidate during the detox process, for example, after heavy use, Focalin detoxification also involves managing the symptoms that ensue as a result of tapering the dosage.

Do not attempt dexmethylphenidate detox without medical guidance. It may be futile or even lead to a relapse. Healthcare professionals can help determine how much of the dose one should reduce per time to ensure a safe and comfortable detox.

After completing the detox program, an individual is transferred for addiction therapy to keep them away from using Focalin.

Medications for Managing Focalin Withdrawal Symptoms

While detoxing under medical supervision, one may experience some withdrawal symptoms.

The medications depend on the nature and severity of the detox symptoms. For instance, depression and apathy may be treated with antidepressant medications; anxiety symptoms will be managed with anti-anxiety drugs such as diazepam, and; sleep aids may be administered for sleep disturbances.

Safe Withdrawal from Dexmethylphenidate

Dexmethylphenidate detoxification aims to get someone off Focalin while minimizing withdrawal symptoms. This should be done under close medical supervision by professionals in detox centers or drug rehabs. Attempting to do this by oneself may be challenging, and the symptoms may be overwhelming enough to make the detox process unsuccessful.

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Published on: June 12th, 2019

Updated on: June 3rd, 2020

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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