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Adderall Addiction

Adderall is frequently used on college campuses by students to increase focus when cramming for exams or working on top priority projects. This is why it is commonly called the “study drug.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Adderall to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. When used as prescribed, Adderall has fewer adverse side effects than many other prescription drugs.

Misuse of this strong central nervous system (CNS) stimulant has caused emergency room visits related to it to increase in young adults. However, prescriptions of Adderall have dropped. This could indicate that younger adults, who are on the prescription, might be offering it to their friends.

Not much is known about the long-term health effects of Adderall. What is known is that is increases focus, causes sleep disruptions, high blood pressure, and possibly stroke.

Adderall affects the brain’s chemical messengers, which are called neurotransmitters. Its effects on these help control impulses and provide a feeling of calm for people with ADHD. Adderall also is known to increase focus and attention. For some people, it can create mental and physical energy and boost confidence.

Some of its side effects can lead to abuse and possibly become habit-forming. People who take Adderall for its intended purpose are less likely to build a tolerance for it. Those who have substance use tendencies, or take higher doses, are more likely to become addicted to it.

How Addictive Is Adderall?

Adderall is considered a safe alternative to treating certain disorders. However, misusing it can lead to harmful health effects. It can cause anger, paranoia, and psychosis, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).  The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration lists Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and “severe psychological or physical dependence.”  

Taking Adderall for a prolonged time might lead users to develop a tolerance for it. This means that higher doses might be needed to feel the same effects. If the use continues, it can lead to dependence and addiction.

What Are the Side Effects of Adderall?

Adderall is usually taken orally. People who abuse the drug may snort it, which could have fatal consequences. When it is taken as prescribed, Adderall is slowly broken down in the body and dispersed throughout its system. When inhaled, it acts quickly, which can lead to an overdose that ends in a coma, brain damage, or death.

Adderall can affect people in different ways, depending on who takes it.  Side effects may not all be felt at the same time. Some common effects you may expect from Adderall per WebMD are:

  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Stomach upset or pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nervousness
  • Fever
  • Sleep disruption

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Signs of Adderall Abuse

Warning signs to look for if you feel that you or your loved one is misusing Adderall are: 

  • Taking Adderall in any other way than prescribed
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Shopping for different doctors to prescribe it
  • Taking for reasons other than a medical need
  • Taking it more often than prescribed
  • Getting or buying Adderall through any means other than a pharmacy

 Long-term signs and symptoms of Adderall abuse are:

  • Slowed speech
  • Dizziness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms or legs
  • Mania
  • Hives
  • Insomnia

If you or a loved one are seeing or experiencing any of the signs listed above, it is essential to consider addiction treatment.   

Adderall Addiction Treatment

There are many steps in the continuum of care for Adderall addiction.

Stimulant withdrawal is not as dangerous as withdrawal from other drugs, such as benzodiazepines or opioids. It is recommended, though, that one goes through the entire continuum of care.

Experienced medical professionals are present throughout one’s withdrawal from stimulants, such as Adderall, to ease the transition into a more stable mindset. Family Recovery Specialists uses a sister facility for medical detoxification.

After detox is complete, treatment professionals will assess your level of addiction and work with you to decide the next recovery step.

Woman holding a pilll and a glass of water

If the staff has deemed you a low risk, you could be placed in intensive outpatient (IOP) or outpatient care, which is what Family Recovery Specialists specializes in.

You will receive therapy that is customized to help you overcome the behaviors that trigger addiction.  From there, you’ll learn how to deal with the triggers to get to the root of the addiction. Evidence-based therapies you could receive are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy

These therapies will give you the tools and skills to regain a life without Adderall.

Sources

Healthline. (2018, June 10) Adderall Addiction: What You Should Know. Cafasso, J., Carter, A. PharmD. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/adderall-addiction

Medical News Today. (2018, August 28) Adderall (amphetamine/ dextroamphetamine). Adderall effects on the brain. Network. Slowiczek, L. Pharm.D. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326219.php

WebMD. Adderall. (n.d.) Side Effects.Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-63163/adderall-oral/details

NIDA. (2018, June 6). Prescription Stimulants. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-stimulants

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (n.d.) Schedule of Controlled Substances. Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/#define

National Institute on Drug Abuse. 8: Definition of dependence. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/neurobiology-drug-addiction/section-iii-action-heroin-morphine/8-definition-dependence

American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2015, May 13) What are the ASAM Levels of Care? Retrieved from https://www.asamcontinuum.org/knowledgebase/what-are-the-asam-levels-of-care/

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