Guanfacine withdrawal is a serious concern for anyone taking this non-stimulant medication. Guanfacine, also known by the brand name Intuniv, is a prescription drug used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD with oppositional defiant disorder, along with some other conditions.
The ADHD medication works by calming the brain and helping with focus and concentration. Abrupt discontinuation of Guanfacine may result in various unwanted symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Understanding what to expect and how to avoid Guanfacine withdrawal means you can stop taking this medication as efficiently and safely as possible when and if the time comes.
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Learn about Guanfacine withdrawal symptoms and what kind of Guanfacine withdrawal timeline you should expect here.
Can Guanfacine Be Stopped Cold Turkey?
It is not recommended that anyone stop taking Guanfacine suddenly without consulting their doctor or healthcare provider first. Abruptly discontinuing Guanfacine use can cause withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, headaches, nausea, or vomiting, which may persist for weeks or months. After abruptly stopping the medication, these symptoms may last for an extended period.
“Guanfacine should not be discontinued immediately. It is important to speak to your doctor about how to taper off the medication.”– Talkspace Therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW
Withdrawal Symptoms of Guanfacine
When coming off any medication, it’s essential to understand the potential risks of abrupt withdrawal. For example, when discontinuing your Guanfacine treatment suddenly, there are several possible symptoms you might experience, such as:
- Dizziness: Dizziness, or a condition known as vertigo, can occur if you suddenly stop taking Guanfacine without a proper taper schedule in place.
- Nausea/vomiting: It’s common to feel queasy as you come off Guanfacine.
- Headaches/migraines: Headaches and migraines are common occurrences reported by people who stop taking Guanfacine without slowly tapering off.
- Irritability: Less frequent reactions may include augmented uneasiness or restlessness as your body adjusts to no longer having the medication in your system.
- Anxiety: Some people feel anxious or nervous when they discontinue Guanfacine.
Abruptly stopping this medication can also lead to a sudden increase in blood pressure, which should be monitored carefully.
How Long Does Guanfacine Withdrawal Last?
Guanfacine withdrawal can be a complex process with physical and psychological symptoms. Thus, it’s important to be aware of how long withdrawal symptoms might last so you can plan and address any potential issues that could arise. Withdrawal from Guanfacine can range from a couple of days to many weeks, contingent upon your individual body chemistry and how long you’ve been taking the medication.
The length of withdrawal symptoms can depend on the dose you’ve been taking and any other drugs that may exist in the body. Generally speaking, if you’ve been taking Guanfacine for an extended period, you’ll experience more intense and longer-lasting withdrawal symptoms than if you only recently started taking it.
Guanfacine withdrawal timeline
Withdrawal from Guanfacine typically ranges from 1 week to a month after ceasing usage.
Within 24 hours of ceasing use, Guanfacine withdrawal symptoms may start to manifest and can last up to 2 weeks before dissipating. In rare cases, more severe issues, such as seizures, have been reported when someone stops taking Guanfacine abruptly without tapering their dose down first.
How to Cope with a Guanfacine Withdrawal
To ensure optimal health and minimize symptoms of withdrawal, it’s recommended to stay hydrated and eat nutritious meals as your body adjusts to not taking this medication anymore. Avoid substances like alcohol during Guanfacine withdrawal. Additionally, exercising regularly will help reduce stress levels which can contribute significantly to overall mental health and well-being during this adjustment period without medication support.
“Withdrawal symptoms of Guanfacine can include headaches, tremors, agitation, and nervousness. To cope with withdrawal symptoms, contact your doctor and seek medical attention if necessary.”– Talkspace Therapist Dr. Olga Molina, D.S.W., LCSW
How Do I Safely Come Off Guanfacine?
To safely come off Guanfacine, it’s best to gradually decrease use over a few weeks rather than abruptly stopping all at once. Tapering off slowly allows your body more time to adjust without shock from sudden changes in dosage amounts over short periods. Your doctor will likely advise reducing doses by small increments until none are taken. This low-dose method helps minimize risk factors associated with abrupt cessation. It also decreases the intensity level of potential adverse effects experienced throughout the weaning process.
Tapering off this medication should be done cautiously with a physician’s guidance to avoid withdrawal symptoms like lightheadedness, migraine, nausea, restlessness, tension, or sleeplessness.
Once you take your last dose of Guanfacine, its long half-life in the body (upwards of 24 hours) may cause lingering effects. If you have been taking higher doses for extended periods, your body may take longer than usual to adjust, so patience is critical during this process.
In addition to slowly weaning, many doctors advise implementing lifestyle changes, including stress reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, and exercise. These activities help promote better mental — and physical — health overall. They can help you recover from Guanfacine withdrawal symptoms safely without experiencing too much discomfort along the way.
Talk with a Licensed Psychiatrist
If you aren’t liking the side effects of Guanfacine, like weight gain from Guanfacine, or you don’t think it’s working, talk to a psychiatrist. They’re knowledgeable about how medications work and capable of providing therapy and medication-based solutions. It’s crucial to find a doctor you feel comfortable talking about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences with so you can get the most out of your treatment plan.
Start by consulting your primary care physician or asking family members for psychiatrist referrals. You can also look at reviews for online psychiatrists. If you or someone you know is experiencing Guanfacine withdrawal, consider seeking professional online mental health treatment to help manage the symptoms and get back on track.
At Talkspace, we can connect you with a psychiatrist to prescribe Guanfacine online or offer a different personalized treatment that might be better for you. With a tailored approach, finding relief and feeling better soon can be possible.
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- Bello N. Clinical utility of guanfacine extended release in the treatment of ADHD in children and adolescents. Patient Preference and Adherence. 2015:877. doi:10.2147/ppa.s73167. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494608/. Accessed March 27, 2023.