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Adderall Psychosis: Recognize the Signs (& What to Do)

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Adderall has proven since its release that it can help people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) manage their symptoms. When the medication is abused, however, it can result in something known as Adderall psychosis.

Adderall, an amphetamine, is often viewed as a safe substance. It has been linked to conditions such as schizophrenia and psychosis. When people who do not have ADHD use Adderall for other reasons, such as to cram for an exam, improve school performance, lose weight, or even concentrate, they place themselves at a higher risk for developing abusive behaviors and severe side effects.

Individuals with ADHD tend to have lower levels of dopamine in their brain, and the low levels indicate that their brain seeks stimulation. Adderall will release dopamine and other neurotransmitters that stimulate the central nervous system (CNS).

When someone who does not have ADHD uses Adderall, natural dopamine levels will increase and exceed an average level. It will cause feelings of euphoria, and in some cases, anxiety.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) released a study that shows amphetamine-related psychiatric disorders are conditions that result from the intoxication of long-term use of amphetamines or their derivatives. These disorders can be experienced during the withdrawal stage from amphetamines.

Amphetamines, Adderall specifically, can be associated with recurring psychiatric disorders. Those who become dependent on amphetamines often decrease their usage when they experience side effects such as hallucinations or paranoia. Some may also experience these symptoms during withdrawal or during prolonged use.

THE RISK OF USING ADDERALL TO COPE WITH PSYCHOSIS

Individuals living with psychosis or other mental health conditions often use substances like Adderall to manage their symptoms. A study by the Epidemiology Catchment Area highlights that 47 percent of individuals with schizophrenia and 60 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder live with a substance use disorder. In the general population, another 16 percent of people were dealing with a substance use disorder.

To live with psychosis can be a nightmare for those managing a daily routine. When you factor in an Adderall use disorder, it can elevate the risks significantly. The problems can include suicidal behaviors, increased chances for violence, and being involved in criminal activity. In most cases, those with psychosis or a genetic predisposition to psychosis are at a much higher risk of developing substance use disorders.

When considering the behavioral problems, someone with psychosis and a substance use disorder can also be in poor physical health. Individuals with psychosis are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Using Adderall leads to heart problems, and the mortality rate is high in those with psychosis due to their poor overall health and risk of suicide.

Those who use Adderall to treat their symptoms of psychosis often make their symptoms worse.

DOES ADDERALL CAUSE PSYCHOSIS?

One study highlights the connection between psychosis and substance use disorders. Researchers have been searching for the cause of psychosis for quite some time. There is still no definitive answer, but earlier studies have highlighted that amphetamines could trigger the onset of psychosis symptoms in healthy people.

Drug-induced psychosis showed up in 46 percent of those who regularly used amphetamine drugs.

Other research has hinted at the reason that amphetamines, Adderall specifically, can cause psychosis due to it being a stimulant.

Shadow people walking in hallway down the walls

Amphetamines often disrupt sleep rhythms and cause sleep disorders in those who take them. The sleep deprivation that occurs as a side effect of using Adderall my account for the onset of psychotic symptoms.

WHAT IS ADDERALL PSYCHOSIS?

Adderall psychosis is when someone uses the medication for extended periods and starts to experience psychotic symptoms. Psychosis that is the direct result of Adderall can last for days, months, and potentially years after cessation. The symptoms will typically resolve with abstinence from the substance, but those who develop Adderall psychosis must be monitored closely. Further use is strongly discouraged.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ADDERALL PSYCHOSIS

Adderall psychosis does not last as long as primary psychosis. The symptoms will also present themselves differently. If psychotic symptoms are the result of Adderall use, the more common symptoms are confusion or agitation. Other symptoms of Adderall psychosis may include:

  • Delusions
  • Lack of concentration
  • Disorganized thoughts
  • Increase in motor activity
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxiety
  • Violent behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Paranoia
  • Withdrawing socially

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF ADDERALL PARANOIA

Adderall paranoia is symptoms that result from Adderall-induced psychosis. The paranoia can cause people to hallucinate and see or hear things that aren’t there. The person can also become suspicious that someone is out to get them. These behavioral symptoms of Adderall paranoia can include:

  • Extreme caution
  • Mistrust
  • Defensive
  • Unable to relax
  • Argumentative

The disorder should resolve itself within a few days if the person stops taking Adderall.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT ADDERALL PSYCHOSIS

When someone has a substance use disorder and psychosis, the only way to manage their symptoms is to get treatment. It’s crucial to seek treatment facilities that will address and treat both disorders at the same time.

When one disorder is treated, but the other is not, the chance of relapse increases exponentially. The rate of relapse in those with psychosis is much higher among those who abuse stimulants like Adderall.

Treatment may consist of therapy and medications, which depends on the treatment facility. The client may be required to participate in individual therapy, group therapy, or both. There are facilities throughout the United States capable of treating these disorders. The client must ensure their treatment plan is tailored to their individual needs, so their treatment is effective.

Sources

Berman, S. M., Kuczenski, R., McCracken, J. T., & London, E. D. (2009, February). Potential adverse effects of amphetamine treatment on brain and behavior: A review. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2670101/

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Part 1: The Connection Between Substance Use Disorders and Mental Illness. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/common-comorbidities-substance-use-disorders/part-1-connection-between-substance-use-disorders-mental-illness

Mullen, J. M. (2018, November 22). Amphetamine Related Psychiatric Disorders. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482368/

Dextroamphetamine and Amphetamine: MedlinePlus Drug Information. (n.d.). from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601234.html

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. (n.d.). from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml

Hartz, S. M., Pato, C. N., Medeiros, H., Cavazos-Rehg, P., Sobell, J. L., Knowles, J. A., … Genomic Psychiatry Cohort Consortium. (2014, March). Comorbidity of severe psychotic disorders with measures of substance use. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4060740/

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