What is Adderall?
Adderall is a central nervous system stimulant that was originally developed to alleviate the symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A combo of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, Adderall works by changing the brain chemistry. It increases the dopamine and norepinephrine levels, which slows how the brain responds to events and changes how your brain pays attention.
Adderall was originally developed by Shire Pharmaceuticals in 1996 and marketed as an improvement on Ritalin – previously the most common ADHD drug.
Tablets or time-release capsules are the two methods of taking prescribed Adderall, but some illicit methods include injecting or snorting for quicker effects.
Who Uses Adderall?
Adderall helps those with ADHD to improve their concentration and focus, as well as suppress impulsive behavior. It is estimated to be an effective treatment for ADHD in 70 to 80 percent of children and 70 percent of adults.
Narcolepsy, a disorder marked by the inability to keep from falling asleep during the day, is also treated with Adderall. Because it is a stimulant it helps you stay awake during the daytime.
In almost every other case, Adderall is being abused. The most common misuse is by those who want increased concentration and focus – mostly high school or college students, or some professionals. Areas with lots of entrepreneurs and innovation, like Silicon Valley, see a much higher rate of abuse.
Because Adderall helps you stay awake it is commonly used to stay up and “pull an all-nighter” for studying or work or simply to party.
Adderall doesn’t cause a traditional high, however taking large amounts can leave the user feeling energetic, excited, euphoric, or self-confident. Some abuse Adderall for those feelings.
For those with an eating disorder, Adderall is often used as a weight loss aid. It can increase your metabolism and suppress your appetite.
Short Term Effects of Adderall Use
It’s important to note that Adderall is generally safe when taken as recommended by your doctor. The fact that Adderall is a prescription medication had led many who abuse it to think that there is very little risk. A study of college students in 2010 found that only 2% of college students classify Adderall as very dangerous. Unfortunately, this is not true.
Short-term side effects can happen to people taking doctor-prescribed Adderall. Still, the risk of side effects is higher when taking Adderall at higher doses and more frequently than recommended.
Adderall impacts your digestive system by increasing the amount of glucose released into your bloodstream. Adderall also increases your metabolism and decreases your appetite. Both could cause:
- low appetite
- stomach pain
- weight loss
Some of the other common short-term effects include:
- dry mouth
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It is possible to overdose on Adderall, as it is a very strong stimulant. Overdosing on Adderall can cause a heart attack, stroke, and liver failure; it can be fatal. The lethal dose of Adderall is estimated to be around 25 times higher than the largest prescribed dose, which is around 60 milligrams per day. Despite that, there have been Adderall overdoses from much smaller amounts than the estimated lethal dose.
Drinking alcohol or mixing Adderall with other substances can increase the risk of an overdose. Adderall can also mask how drunk you feel, leading you to drink too much and alcohol poisoning.
Some other severe symptoms of an Adderall overdose include:
- panic attacks
- high fever
- hypertension or high blood pressure
- rhabdomyolysis – the breakdown of muscles
Long Term Effects of Adderall Use
Just like with short-term effects, the long-term effects can also be found in people taking prescribed Adderall to treat a condition like ADHD. However, the long-term effects are much more likely and severe when Adderall is being abused.
Long term use of Adderall can cause changes to the brain. Because Adderall makes your brain produce dopamine, the hormone that causes you to feel good, your brain stops making dopamine on its own. This can lead to depression and even suicide. It can also cause you to seek out Adderall more and more – possibly leading to an addiction.
According to the Center for Substance Abuse Research at the University of Maryland, long term use of high doses of Adderall can cause many problems, such as:
- Toxic psychosis
- Physiological and behavioral disorders
- Pounding heartbeat
- Difficulty breathing
- Mood or mental changes
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Repetitive motor activity
- Convulsions, coma, and death
- Mental illness
- Skin disorders
- Vitamin deficiency
- Flush or pale skin
- Loss of coordination and physical collapse
Signs of Adderall Abuse and Addiction
An Adderall addiction can be difficult to identify in others and ourselves. It can be even more difficult to get help at a treatment center. This is partly because Adderall is not viewed as a dangerous drug and doesn’t have the stigmas that other drugs have. For college students or professionals, it might be viewed as a necessary and expected part of studying or working.
You might notice the person has higher energy than normal, with lots of fast talking. They might get excited easily. Or they could have lower energy than normal, frequent saying they are exhausted and sleeping for a long time.
You could see a reduction in appetite or significant weight loss. A general decline in personal hygiene is a big sign there might be a problem.
Financial troubles and other drug seeking symptoms are possible, like impulsive behaviors or becoming secretive. You might notice that they are always taking pills. Other changes to their behavior could include social withdrawal, aggression, relationship problems, and overworking. If they have an Adderall prescription, they could start filling their prescriptions more frequently.
Some other signs are:
- Memory loss
- Incomplete thoughts
You might be wondering if your Adderall use has turned into an addiction. An addiction is different than taking Adderall from time to time. While neither are good things, an addiction means you need the drug to function and will need specialized treatment to stop.
Some questions you might ask yourself to figure out if your Adderall use has become an addiction are:
- Can I finish my work without Adderall?
- Do I often think about cutting down on my use, but find myself unable to do so?
- Is the dose I need increasing?
- Do I feel alert without the drug?
- Am I suffering withdrawal symptoms when I’m not taking Adderall?
- Is using Adderall more important to me than my hobbies or activities?
- Is the drug taking too much of my time and money?
Treatment for Adderall Addiction
Treatment for an Adderall addiction typically includes detox and inpatient rehab. Just like other amphetamines, Adderall causes brain changes that reinforce drug seeking behaviors and make quitting hard.
During detox, withdrawal symptoms may include fatigue, loss of concentration, and slowed heart rate. Some of these symptoms can be difficult for high achievers who were using Adderall to be more productive. It will require them to slow down. There might be a fear of not being successful or good at their job without Adderall.
Inpatient rehab might include behavior therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help rewire the brain and help the person deal with stress and triggers. Another common therapy used is contingency management, where rewards like vouchers or cash are given for positive behaviors.
Often, if the patient is a college student or high achieving professional, therapy to better manage stress and to help bring their expectations of themselves to a realistic level is vital to long term recovery.
If you have any questions concerning Adderral addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Truvida Recovery. Call 877-228-1102 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.