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Article Summary

A Guide To Adderall Addiction

With rising college fees and heighten competition for the few scholarships available to help students offset these costs, many have started turning to prescription stimulants such as Adderall to help them improve their academic performance and - the process - secure spots in their dream schools.

This is because Adderall - among other amphetamines - have acquired notoriety as brain booster and study drugs. As such students think that these stimulants can help them improve their cognition, and make it easier for them to study. However, this is a myth that needs dispelling.

Although Adderall will not make you any smarter than you are, it causes a variety of effects of symptoms. These include malnutrition, psychosis, epilepsy, and hallucinations. Additionally, if you use this drug for a long time, you may likely end up developing dependence and addiction to it, which means that you will have to contend with the risks associated with these adverse effects.

Contrary to popular belief among teens - and some parents - about Adderall as a study drug, the substance is actually highly addictive. However, if you use this prescription stimulants as your doctor prescribed and directed, you may receive positive benefits. On the other hand, if you take it for non-medical or recreational reasons, you are likely to get high and eventually become addicted to it. This is why the US government has designated Adderall in the same class as methamphetamine and cocaine.

Understanding Adderall

Adderall is a potent CNS (central nervous system) stimulant and the most commonly prescribed and - therefore - used amphetamine. It is classified by the federal government as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because of its high potential for abuse and addiction.

Typically, physicians prescribe Adderall for the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hypertension disorder) and narcolepsy. Narcoleptic patients who take it experience a decrease in fatigue, although it creates the exact opposite effects for ADHD sufferers.

The drug is prescribed as a tablet that you are supposed to ingest orally. In most cases, your doctor will recommend a given dose for the medication - typically ranging from 5 mg to 30 mg.

However, if you are looking for the drug to create its effects immediately, you might crush the tablets and snort the resulting powder. Today, the DEA views Adderall as having such a high potential for addiction, which is why it is classified with other Schedule II controlled drugs, such as Ritalin, OxyContin, cocaine, and Vicodin.

The DEA further reports that Schedule II controlled substances are considered dangerous on account of their high potential for addiction, severe dependence, and abuse. However, since Adderall is medically legitimate, it is legal - but only for people who have a doctor's prescription for it.

The drug comes in two different forms - as an extended release capsule and as a tablet. The capsule usually takes longer for the body to break down, meaning that it can distribute amphetamine into your system in the course of 24 hours. The tablet form, on the other hand, will administer the amphetamine ingredient much faster than this.

Both forms of Adderall have the number of mg in the pill clearly labeled. However, this does not stop those who wish to abuse it. Whereas some ingest it orally, others might chew the pills, or crush them and snort the resulting powder to achieve the desired effects much sooner.

Even though Adderall is the one of the official brand names for the class of drugs referred to as amphetamine, the drug is also known by other names. Young people, drug dealers, and other abusers often use slang to refer to the drug and avoid suspicion. Some of the street names for the medication, to this end, include:

  • Wake-Ups
  • Uppers
  • Study Buddies
  • Speed
  • Smart Pills
  • Pep Pills
  • Copilots
  • Bennies
  • Addy

Adderall Uses

As we mentioned early, Adderall is usually prescribed as a treatment for ADHD, an ailment that is most common among children. However, it is also effective in the treatment of obesity, severe depression, and narcolepsy - especially when other medications are not effective at dealing with these conditions.

Some people abuse the drugs by taking them without a prescription. If you have a prescription, however, you can intentionally or unintentionally take a higher dose than your doctor recommended. Eventually, you might develop a chemical or physiological dependence to it, ultimately leading to addiction.

While abusing it, users many crush the Adderall pills into powder before sniffing it straight through their nose. However, this form of use - in addition to the other adverse side effects of abusing this medication - snorting comes with other potential risks. These include damage to the sinus and nasal cavities. Snorting might also lead to a variety of heart-related health conditions, and increase your risk of overdose.

People abuse this drug for a variety of reasons, such as to lose weight, stay awake to study longer, and even to get high. Today, the use of this drug is typically associated with students - both in high school and college - although older people might also use it.

For instance, if you are professional with a demanding career and tight schedules, you might abuse the medication to enable you accomplish more and turn out into a high achiever.

On the other hand, if you have an eating disorder, you might find yourself abusing Adderall for the appetite suppression effects it generates. This will be in a bid to help you lose weight.

When a doctor prescribes the medication, they will vary the dosage amounts based on the age of the patient and their specific needs, as well as the condition that the drug is supposed to treat.

Adults receiving it as a treatment for narcolepsy will usually start out with a daily dose of 10 mg, which might be increased later. If you are getting it to treat ADHD, your doctor may prescribe a daily dose of 20 mg.

However, because doctors prescribe Adderall, many people are mistakenly led to believe that the drug is safe. This is far from the case, especially when you consider the fact that abusing this medication might cause long term side effects and other adverse symptoms. Eventually, you might even develop addiction to and dependence on it - conditions that are quite hard to deal with and break.

Those who abuse the medication often do so for its desired effects, which include but are not limited to appetite suppression, increased concentration, euphoria, and feelings of confidence. These desirable effects make the drug the go-to choice for people looking to boost their mental or physical performance.

What most people don't know is that taking this drug without a prescription - or in any way other than your doctor directed - is a form of drug abuse. This abuse covers taking larger doses to produce stronger effects, chewing the drug, or crushing and snorting the resulting powder.

Some of the reasons why Adderall is commonly abused include:

  • Weight loss
  • Studying
  • Staying awake
  • Euphoria
  • Recreation (or, simply put, to get high)
  • Athletic performance

Some of the clusters of people who abuse Adderall include:

a) Professionals and Students

Since Adderall can help you stay awake longer than usual and keep you focused, many working professionals and students use it to meet the ever-increasing pressures and demands of work and school. In particular, college students comprise a large segment of the population that abuses this drug on a regular basis.

b) Athletes

As an athlete or sportsperson, you might abuse this medication to enhance your performance and counter fatigue both in competitions and during practice. The National Football League, for instance, reported that the abuse of Adderall was the main reason behind drug-related suspensions in the sport in 2012.

c) Eating Disorder Patients

While struggling with one eating disorder or the other, you may start using Adderall for its appetite suppression quality. If this condition applies to you and you become addicted to the drug, getting treatment means that both issues have to be addressed at the same time because they are co-occurring problems.

That said, the following are some of the ways in which people abuse Adderall:

  • Taking doses of the drug that are larger than your doctor originally prescribed
  • Administering Adderall in ways that were never intended in its use, including intravenous use, snorting, and/or smoking it
  • Using the drug for any non-medical reason
  • Borrowing or stealing another person's prescription pills
  • Buying Adderall illegally on the street and using your batch to get high

If you become dependent on Adderall, you might require addiction rehabilitation and treatment. These forms of treatment will address the addiction and any underlying causes of your substance use disorder.

Adderall Effects

Although Adderall is not the most common drug on the street, misusing it can lead to long term effects, some of which might prove to be so serious that you will need immediate medical attention.

Consider the following:

a) Psychological Effects

Adderall may affect your cognitive function. It works by imbuing the neurotransmitters inside your brain - including dopamine. In the process, it might cause overstimulation. However, this effect is not the same for people who have a prescription because the drug works to increase these neurotransmitters, which might already be at decreased levels.

If your levels of the neurotransmitters is normal and you abuse Adderall, you may experience psychological disturbances that might include:

  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Mania
  • Hearing voices
  • Hallucinations
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety

Doctors have also started questioning and researching the implications of this medication in other psychological spheres, including but not limited to depression and personality.

b) Physical Effects

Adderall does more than simply affect you psychologically. In fact, most of its physical effects may cause severe harm for your body. Some of the effects that are commonly associated with the medication include:

  • Tachycardia
  • Sudden death
  • Stoke
  • Slowed growth and development in children
  • Seizures
  • Necrotizing vasculitis
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiac dysrhythmias
  • Cardiac arrest

Additionally, the drug might also increase your core temperatures, which could lead to eventual heart injury and issues. Since Adderall comes with a slew of stimulant properties, you can mask your fatigue when you exercise. This might cause you to continue maintaining elevated temperatures as well as exogenous heat stress longer than you anticipated.

Adderall Side Effects

As mentioned above, Adderall is commonly prescribed to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. However, even those without a prescription might use it for its desired effects. What most of them don't know is that this drug comes with a variety of negative side effects that can affect both non-prescription and prescription users.

Consider the following:

a) Positive Side Effects

Adderall is formulated by combining Dextroamphetamine and amphetamine - both of which stimulate the central nervous system and affect the chemicals in your brain. These drugs also affect nerves, particularly those related to hyperactivity and impulse control. It is because of these effects that doctors prescribe this drug for those who have trouble staying awake(narcolepsy) and focusing.

When you take Adderall in its prescribed form, therefore, you may experience some positive benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Reduction of hyperactivity
  • Increased mood level
  • Increased concentration and focus
  • Increased alertness
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Decreased exhaustion
  • Ability to function naturally with clarity

b) Negative Side Effects

In the same line of thought, taking Adderall can result in several undesired effects. While getting a prescription, ensure that you inform your doctor in case you have an overactive thyroid, heart disease, glaucoma, high blood pressure, or any other health issue that the medication might affect.

You should also let them know in case you have a history - either personal or familial - of alcohol and drug addiction even before you start taking the drug. In case you have any other concerns or questions about the negative side effects of Adderall listen below, get in touch with your primary healthcare provider:

  • Stomach ache
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Nervousness
  • Mood swings
  • Jitteriness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Circulatory issues (that include finger discoloration and numbness)
  • Back pain
  • Anxiety

Adderall Addictive Qualities

Few people take the time to think about whether Adderall is addictive before they start taking the medication. Adderall is an amphetamine, similar to the illicit street drug, Meth, and can be highly addictive.

People who abuse Adderall, for instance, may feel productive, energized, and alert. This means that you might want to start using it again if only to feel these desirable effects. Over time, continued abuse may cause you to develop tolerance to the substance. This means that you will have to take higher and higher doses to achieve the same effects. If you continue this pattern of abuse, increased dosage, and tolerance, you may eventually find that you have become dependent on and addicted to it.

Once dependence and addiction set in and you try to stop using the drug, you are highly likely to experience withdrawal, which will manifest even more negative and adverse effects, such as abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, panic attacks, irritability, fatigue, insomnia, and disorientation, among others.

While wondering about the addictive nature of this drug, you might want to remember that the DEA has classified it as a Schedule II substance simply because it comes with a high potential for dependence and abuse.

In most cases, your dependence will develop after you have been taking larger doses of Adderall for a long period of time. Still, even those who have only used this drug for a relatively short duration might find that their bodies have become accustomed to having it in their system.

Therefore, dependence simply means that your body will expect that you take Adderall so that the necessary neurotransmitters - including dopamine - are created artificially and without the help of a natural mechanism inside it.

When you stop taking this drug, therefore, and completely remove it from your system, it might be hard for your body to start working properly - or at least how it used to work before you started abusing Adderall.

Psychological dependence, on the other hand, will happen when you become so used to taking a drug that it becomes a pattern in your life. Consequently, when you decide to change this pattern, your brain might take it as a form of disruption and naturally respond by causing anxiety and stress. Psychological dependence might also occur once you start thinking that you need Adderall to function properly - even if your body does not necessary need you to take another dose.

Adderall Overdose

The pattern of abuse, tolerance, dependence, and eventual addiction might ultimately lead you to overdosing on Adderall. In some cases, such an overdose could be fatal and lethal. This is because Adderall is a stimulant medication that often leads to grave health issues and consequences.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of an overdose on this drug include, but are not limited to:

  • Cardiac rhythm abnormalities
  • Chest pain
  • Coma
  • Delirium
  • Fainting
  • Fast breathing
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperventilation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Panic attack
  • Profound confusion
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Uncontrollable tremor
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting

Adderall Withdrawal

If you have been using Adderall for a long time and you become dependent on it, you may face a high risk of developing withdrawal if you suddenly stop using/abusing it. The severity of this condition and the length of your detox, however, will vary based on many factors.

Some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting Adderall include:

  • Aches
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Depression
  • Dysphoria, which is defined as a feeling of general dissatisfaction
  • Fatigue
  • Impaired social functioning
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Nervousness
  • Other mood disturbances
  • Pains
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  • Sleep disturbances, including hypersomnia and insomnia
  • Vivid and/or unpleasant dreams/nightmares

It may take anywhere between 5 days and 3 weeks to detox fully from this drug. The length of the detox will depend on such factors as:

  • The average dose you were taking Adderall when you stopped abusing it, meaning that detox will last longer if you were taking very frequent or higher doses
  • The length of time you were using Adderall, such that those who used it longer may experience more severe and persistent withdrawal symptoms

If you have serious concurrent mental health or medication conditions or you abused Adderall with other intoxicating substances, you may have to start your substance abuse recovery through a professional and medically supervised detox program.

Supervision means that clinicians will be at hand to check how you are doing, ensure that you detox off the drug safely, and monitor you as you undergo the various stages of withdrawal. Where necessary, they might even prescribe and administer medications to ease some of the more severe Adderall withdrawal symptoms.

However, detox should only be the beginning of a longer period of treatment. After completing detoxification successfully, therefore, you might want to check into a comprehensive rehabilitation facility or program to fully overcome your addiction to and dependence on Adderall, and to redirect your life so that you are finally free of the drug.

Adderall Dangers

Adderall comes with a variety of serious mental and physical health risks, especially when you abuse it over and beyond or without a doctor's prescription and direction. Its various detrimental consequences will be heightened if you abuse the drug for a longer period. This is why you might want to seek treatment for your substance use disorder at the earliest opportunity.

That said, long term exposure to Adderall comes with a variety of risks, which include but are not limited to:

  • Cardiovascular complications
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Abnormal serotonergic and dopaminergic neurotransmission
  • Additionally, abusing this drug may increase your risk of developing mental health problems such as:
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Defiant, antisocial, and/or oppositional behaviors
  • Depression

On the other hand, if you are still hesitant about getting treated and taken off Adderall once and for all, you should think carefully about the following consequences that come with using this drug in the long term:

  • Tolerance, which may cause you to have to increase your doses of the drug to achieve it positive effects, which will only increase the risk of suffering even more adverse effects
  • Dependence that will result in withdrawal symptoms in case you decide to significantly reduce your dosage or quit the drug
  • Intravenous consequences, including TB (tuberculosis), tetanus, Hepatitis, HIV, and infection of your heart lining
  • Intranasal consequences, that includes perforated nasal septum
  • Malnutrition
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Blockage of your blood vessels because the tablets have insoluble fillers
  • Dangerous or erratic as a result of the paranoia that Adderall causes
  • Severe mood swings

As you can well imagine, abusing Adderall is as dangerous as it is life threatening. This is why it is never worth the risk. The best way to avoid its dangers is by quitting the drug and taking all the steps that will help you get to a happier and healthier life.

Signs And Symptoms Of Adderall Abuse

At times, it might be difficult for someone who abuses Adderall and is addicted to it to admit that they have a problem. However, they don't even have to admit this problem if you are watchful and observant.

To this end, your ability to tell whether your loved one is addicted to or has been abusing Adderall might be the missing link that could save their life. This is easy to do especially because most users tend to exhibit certain distinct psychological and physical signs.

Even though Adderall is used to manage narcolepsy and ADHD, some people abuse it without a prescription - or simply misuse their drugs over and beyond the instructions they received from their doctors.

Some of the typical signs and symptoms of Adderall use, abuse, tolerance, dependence, and addiction include:

  • Aggressive behavior like increased risk taking and violent outbursts
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Chest pain
  • Continuing to abuse the drug in spite of its adverse effects and dangers
  • Decline in personal cleanliness and hygiene
  • Decreased or increased need for sleep
  • Dizziness
  • Doctor shopping, where they see more than one doctor to get additional prescriptions for Adderall
  • Dry mouth
  • Euphoria
  • Extremely slowed or fast speech
  • Fast talking
  • Fatigue
  • Financial problems
  • Finding that you are unable to function normally without Adderall
  • General exhaustion
  • Headaches
  • Ignoring social and family responsibilities and obligations
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Increased attentiveness
  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sociability
  • Insomnia
  • Intranasal effects, including irritated nasal mucosa and nosebleeds
  • Intravenous signs, that might include track lines, cellulitis, abscesses, and puncture marks
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Malnutrition
  • Mania
  • Marked weight loss
  • Missing work or school
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Noticeable behavioral changes, including paranoia, hostility, and intense anger
  • Paranoia
  • Picking skin
  • Pounding heartbeat
  • Psychomotor agitation, which refers to repetitive movements that might not have any purpose
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Relationship problems
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sneaking or hiding the fact that they are taking the pills
  • Spending a great deal of time and money on the drug
  • Taking the pills on a regular basis
  • The need to take larger doses of the drug for it to be effective
  • Trouble controlling the amount you use and frequency of use
  • Upset stomach

Knowing how to spot these signs/symptoms might help you prepare how to help a loved one who clearly has a problem with Adderall. Today, there are many treatment and rehabilitation options that they can check into when they need help in quitting the drug.

Treatment For Adderall Addiction

In case you believe that you - or someone else - would benefit from rehabilitation and treatment for your Adderall addiction and dependence, there are many different options you can consider. These include:

a) Detoxification

  • outpatient detox
  • Supervised inpatient detox
  • Post-detox treatment

b) Therapy

  • Alternative therapies, including medication and yoga
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Recreational therapy

c) Rehabilitation

  • Outpatient rehab and treatment
  • Residential rehabilitation

d) Others

The following services might be provided in any or all of the above programs - including outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation:

  • Aftercare planning
  • Classes on healthy eating and nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Skills training

Overall, getting help for your addiction is the first step you need to take. Although the help may take some time to start showing positive results and effects, it will eventually help you overcome your addiction to and dependence on Adderall. As long as you keep at it and remember to never give up, you should be able to do away with Adderall in your life.

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