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Article Summary

Adderall Overdose

Adderall, which is a pharmaceutical combination of amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine, is a prescription stimulant drug used primarily in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in both adults and children.

If you take this medication as your doctor prescribed, it can help you improve your concentration and focus (especially if you have ADHD) and lead to better performance in different aspects of your life - including school and work.

However, some people abuse Adderall to increase their energy levels, lose weight, or feel the pleasurable effects it causes. In particular, college and high school students take the medication to aid in their studies, meet deadlines, and increase their productivity. They usually do this by crushing the tablets and snorting or injecting the resulting powder, chewing the pills, or swallowing them whole.

As a young adult, you might feel that you are invincible to the adverse effects of this study drug. However, this does not necessarily mean that you are less susceptible to its dangers.

Background On Adderall Abuse

According to research, more than 11 million Americans reported in 2014 that they had used Adderall for recreational and non-medical reasons at one point or the other in their lifetimes. In the same way, it was found that there were over 4 million active non-medical users of the medication aged between 18 and 25. These findings show that young adults have the highest risk of abusing and becoming addiction to prescription stimulants like Adderall. In case of any increases in the number of ADHD diagnoses, it is highly likely that these numbers will continue growing into the future.

That said, Adderall abuse and addiction are serious concerns. This is primarily because they often lead to a slew of dangerous and harmful health problems, including but not limited to overdose.

Statistically speaking, 2010 was a bad year especially given the fact that there were more than 31000 visits to emergency rooms as a result of overdosing on stimulants like Adderall. This was a significant increase - of about 196% - from 2004.

On the other hand, SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) reported that 2011 saw an average of 114 daily visits to emergency rooms involving young people aged between 18 and 25. These visits were as a result of abusing and overdosing on amphetamines like methamphetamine and Adderall.

To ensure that you do not form part of these statistics on account of your abusing this medication, it is imperative that you learn more about Adderall, its overdose risks, the signs and symptoms of an overdose, as well as any steps you can take to prevent yourself from suffering these adverse consequences.

Read on to find out more:

About Adderall

Adderall is a brand name for a medication that combines amphetamine and Dextroamphetamine. It is typically used in the treatment of ADHD and is believed to help patients suffering from this condition improve their focus, their ability to pay close attention, and increase energy levels. The medication is also prescribed for the treatment of narcolepsy but you should never use it just because you would like to keep yourself from sleeping.

Unfortunately, however, this drug is potentially addictive and habit forming. This means that those who abuse it are highly likely to develop tolerance, dependence, and eventual addiction.

Therefore, if you have a prescription for Adderall, you should take great care to ensure that you never increase your recommended dose or take it longer than your doctor advised.

However, some people still use the drug without a legal and valid prescription. Most of them do so to achieve the pleasurable effects of the drug - such as helping them stay awake and concentrate.

Those who abuse the drug - either by using it without a prescription or by failing to follow the instructions that came with their prescription - might eventually overdose on it. Although the symptoms tend to vary in terms of severity, you never know what might happen if you take toxic amounts of Adderall. The safest thing, therefore, is to ensure that you never abuse this medication in the first place.

The Potential For Adderall Overdose

You can easily overdose on Adderall - particularly if you mix it with other medications, drugs, alcohol, and/or other intoxicating substances. As a CNS (central nervous stimulant), this drug is manufactured pharmaceutically using amphetamine salts. When used as recommended, it is effective in treating the common symptoms of narcolepsy and ADHD.

However, since it comes with a wide variety of effects, Adderall is also used non-medically and recreationally by people looking to increase their memory and productivity - even though these forms of use are not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Since Adderall primarily acts by stimulating the central nervous system, it tends to have many different effects on the brain and body. However, it can also prove to be extremely dangerous - particularly if you do not take it under medical supervision or while following a prescription. It is for this reason that the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has classified it as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Since overdosing on Adderall can be fatal and lead to death, you should always monitor your own use of the drug if you have a prescription. If you don't, the best thing you can do is seek treatment for your substance use disorder and amphetamine addiction before it culminates in overdose. On the other hand, if your child has been given a prescription for it, you should always ensure that you monitor them closely and carefully. This is the only way to be sure that they are taking it the right way and in the correct dose.

Adderall Overdose

Generally speaking, Adderall will stay in your body for long time. The duration of its stay and effects will depend on the dosing amounts and frequency. However, an urine drug test can still detect it days after you use the medication.

In spite of these strong and long lasting effects, some people take too much of the drug. There are many reasons why this is the case - and understanding these reasons could help you avoid an overdose.

For starters, Adderall is effective as an aid to keep you awake. This is why doctors may prescribe it for the treatment of narcolepsy. If you use it when you have this problem, therefore, you might be able to stay awake and increase your alertness.

However, if you increase the dosing amount or the frequency of use, you may eventually overdose on the drug - which tends to happen unintentionally in most cases. On the other hand, if you use this medication to get high and feel its pleasurable effects, you might also overdose.

Some people - although the number is quite small - also take Adderall to harm themselves or while attempting to commit suicide. When this happens, they increase the dose to dangerous levels, and some of them are actually successful in their aims because the drug is one of the strongest stimulants on the market today.

Prescribed Dosage

So, what is the typical dosage prescribed by doctors? In most cases, the prescribed amount will typically range from 5 to about 60 mg of Adderall a day. The amount can also be split up into several doses that you can take throughout the day.

For instance, your doctor might start a teenager at a daily dose of about 10 mg. For adults, the prescription might call for a starting daily dose of about 20 mg. Over time, the dosage amount might be increased gradually until all your symptoms dissipate or are effectively brought under control.

Lethal Dosage

The amount of Adderall that could potentially cause an overdose varies greatly from one person to the next. In most cases, however, it will depend on your sensitivity to stimulant drugs like amphetamine and the amount of the drug you take.

Reportedly, the lethal dose of Adderall can be anywhere between 20 and 25 mg of the drug for every kilo of body weight. For instance, if you weigh 154 pounds (70 kg), then your lethal dose would be about 1400 mg. Of course, this is over 25 times higher than the high limit of most prescribed doses. Still, you can overdose on as little as 1.5 mg of Adderall for a kilo of your body weight.

The best way to ensure that you never overdose is by never taking more than the dose your doctor prescribed. However, if you feel that your current dose no longer works as effectively as it used to, book an appointment with your physician and voice your concerns. In most cases, they will evaluate and test your current prescription before making the necessary adjustments.

Suicide Prevention

Adderall comes with a high potential for overdose. Therefore, if you have some lying around your medicine cabinet, it might be used to hurt other people - although some people might also use it to harm themselves or commit suicide.

If you suspect that anyone is at risk of using this medication for self-harm or to hurt others, you should do the following:

  • Call your local emergency number or 911
  • Stay with them until help arrives
  • Remove all Adderall pills, other medications, knives, guns, and anything else that can cause harm
  • Listen to them without yelling, making threats, arguing, or making judgements

If you are considering suicide or you know someone who could be, you should get help by calling a suicide or crisis prevention hotline, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255)

Drug Interactions

If you combine Adderall with other drugs, you may end up overdosing on less than the typical lethal dose. For instance, taking MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), you might increase the effects of amphetamine and, ultimately, raise the risk of suffering an overdose. These MAOIs include, but are not limited to:

  • Isocarboxazid (Marplan)
  • Phenelzine (Nardil)
  • Selegiline (Atapryl)

In the same way, if you mix Adderall with CYP2D6 inhibitor drugs, you may also increase your risk of suffering negative side effects like an overdose. Examples of CYP2D6 inhibitors include:

  • Ritonavir (Norvir)
  • Quinidine (Quinidex)
  • Paroxetine (Paxil)
  • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
  • Cinacalcet (Sensipar)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

Therefore, when you get a prescription for Adderall, you should inform your doctor about all and any other medications that you might be taking at the same time. This includes nutritional supplements, vitamins, and over the counter (OTC) medications.

Providing this information will help your physician write out the right prescription, choose an appropriate drug, and/or adjust the dosage to a level where you won't be at risk of suffering adverse side effects like overdose. By so doing, they will effectively reduce the chances that you will experience drug interactions that could prove dangerous to your mind and body.

Causes Of Adderall Overdose

An overdose will happen when you misuse Adderall. This means taking the drug for non-medical or recreational purposes or failing to follow your doctor's prescription and instructions about how you should take this drug.

In most cases, Adderall abusers tend to take more frequent or larger doses of this medication than is safe or logical for them. This behavior often leads to adverse effects and overdose incidents.

Today, Adderall is most commonly abused by college students who use it as a study aid. As we have seen earlier, the illicit use of this substance is highest among 18 to 25 year olds. This is why research shows that the busiest hubs for the abuse of this drug include high schools and colleges where abusers think that taking the pills can improve their ability to concentrate on their studies and educational assignments.

In fact, more than 2/3rds of all students report that they had been offered prescription stimulants at one point or the other before the end of their university careers. Up to 1/3 of these students also reported that they had used prescription stimulants.

The risk of Adderall overdose - as well as its side effects on the cardiovascular system - might also be exacerbated by substance interactions, particularly if you mix this medication with alcohol.

This is something you should know especially because studies are now suggesting that most people who take prescription stimulants for non-medical reasons - that includes Adderall - is now commonly associated with marijuana and alcohol dependence and addiction.

These drugs might interact, especially if you take them during a party - another motivation for using Adderall (which is somewhat less common than studying). Since this mixture might happen, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from an overdose is by never agreeing to take such a combination.

Signs Of Adderall Overdose

Adderall is known for keeping its users active and up for many hours on end. It also works by reducing the need for sleep, causing them to stay up. As such, it is popular in colleges and high schools where many students try to maximize their time and schedules while also juggling their studies with a social life, relationship, and - to some lesser extent - jobs.

As such, many students think of Adderall as a power pill that can help them accomplish even more than they are with their dwindling resources, time, and energy. In most cases, they might feel that they lack control over their lives and that they are invincible. As a direct result, they might seek out some form of control and start abusing amphetamines like Adderall.

Adderall is a stimulant that forms part of an use pattern involving upper drugs for unhealthy studying and working practices, as an edge where focus is required (such as in midterm exams, tests, and extracurricular activities), and to prolong and enhance nights out. However, these forms of unrestrained use might cause a substance use disorder that eventually leads to overdosing on the drug.

Consuming Adderall recreationally might cause unintended consequences like overdoses and euphoric highs. Luckily, most of the overdose symptoms involving amphetamines are typically self-identifiable.

In case you are part of the population that is considered most at risk for using, abusing, and overdosing on this amphetamine, it is essential that you are mindful and watchful of any overdose signs and symptoms - which might happen to you or to one of your peers.

The symptoms you will display will depend on a variety of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The amount of the drug you ingested
  • Your particular body chemistry
  • Your natural sensitivity to stimulants
  • Whether you combined Adderall with any other intoxicating substances

If one of your classmates, acquaintances, friends, family, or anyone else close to you exhibits some or most of the following overdose signs and symptoms related to Adderall, you should call for emergency medical assistance immediately:

a) Mild Symptoms

If the Adderall overdose is mild, you might experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nausea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Headaches
  • Confusion

b) Severe Symptoms

On the other hand, if it is severe, you may experience:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Fever (of 106.7'F or 41.5'C) or higher
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Hypertension
  • Panic
  • Rhabdomyolysis, or a breakdown of muscle mass
  • Tremors
  • Death

c) Others

The other signs and symptoms of an Adderall overdose include, but are not limited to:

  • Aggressive tendencies
  • Anxiety
  • Blurry vision
  • Bouts of hallucinations
  • Brown or dark red urine (which is secondary to rhabdomyolysis)
  • Clumsiness
  • Cramping
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Foggy or blurry vision
  • Hallucinations
  • Hyperactivity
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature) or fever
  • Irregular pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle weakness
  • Overpowering spasms and bodily shaking
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Rapid breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Seizures
  • Stomach pain
  • Sustained depression
  • Tremors
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Uncoordinated behavior
  • Upset stomach
  • Visible twitching
  • Vomiting

e) Serotonin Syndrome

If you overdose as a result of combining Adderall with antidepressants, you are likely to experience serotonin syndrome. This a serious negative reaction to the combination of drugs in which too much serotonin will build up in your body. This syndrome can cause the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Death
  • Diarrhea
  • Arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

When you overdose on Adderall, you might fail to get help. This is because of the stigma that is commonly attached to cases where students contact the authorities even in situations that are life threatening and potentially fatal.

However, you shouldn't let any fears or stigma be the excuse why you overlook symptoms or try to ride out the overdose just because you are trying to avoid legal trouble or medical intervention.

Today, many states - probably including yours - offer immunity and protection for victims of an Adderall overdose as well as to Good Samaritans who get them the help they need.

The intention of these university rules and state laws is to protect the people involve in precarious scenarios like these - even if the individuals concerned are underage. Therefore, the right thing you should do is to get emergency medical help for the people who need it - even if it is just for yourself.

Adderall Overdose Risk Factors

A number of factors might put you at heightened risk of overdosing on Adderall. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Combining Adderall with other intoxicating substances, such as alcohol
  • Taking a dose of Adderall that is higher than your prescription calls for
  • Taking the drug more frequently than your doctor prescribed
  • Using Adderall without a legal and valid prescription
  • Using this drug even when you have other pre-existing health conditions

Whether you abuse Adderall or you take it according to a prescription from a doctor, you might develop tolerance to it. Tolerance happens when your body starts adapting to having the drug in its system.

In general, the greater your tolerance, the larger the dose you will have to take to achieve the same effects, levels of intoxication, and high. Therefore, tolerance will put you at higher risk of overdosing on Adderall because you might end up consuming more of the medication that your body can handle.

In Case Of An Overdose

Adderall overdoses can be fatal, although this is a rare occurrence. Even so, it is important that you get medical professionals to come over in case you notice of the signs of drug toxicity.

In case the overdose symptoms appear relatively mild to you, get in touch with the local Poison Control department or center. The person you talk you should be able to provide you with advice on what you should do for the person suffering from amphetamine toxicity.

As far as possible, you should keep the victim calm, patient, and restrained (where necessary) to ensure that they do not injure themselves or those close to them. This is because amphetamines like Adderall can cause hallucinations, aggression, and agitation.

Of course, since Adderall overdoses might turn out to be life-threatening, you should call 911 immediately you realize that one is underway. This is because amphetamine toxicity should only be treated by trained medical professionals.

If possible, you should remain on the phone with the emergency operator - at least until the medical first responders arrive. You can also provide the following information if you have it at hand or off head:

  • The victim's age
  • How much Adderall they took
  • The last time they used the drug
  • Their condition and symptoms

In the meantime, you should ensure that the victim is in a safe and secure environment. This means that they should be away from anything that could potentially cause them bodily injury or harm in case they have seizures. In particular, be careful to get rid of objects that have sharp edges.

Preventing And Avoiding Adderall Overdose

As far as possible, you should ensure that you only take Adderall if a doctor has prescribed it for you. While writing the prescription, the physician will typically provide you with specific instructions on how to use the drug, including but not limited to the dosage you take.

To prevent an overdose or reduce the risk that it will happen:

  • Follow your prescription and the instructions it came with
  • Stick to the dosage your doctor recommended
  • Use the drug as prescribed that is orally
  • Ensure that you do not mix Adderall with any other intoxicating substance

As you already know, taking more frequent or higher doses than your doctor recommended may increase your risk of Adderall overdose. This risk will also be compounded if you decide to take the drug through any other route of administration apart from orally - such as by snorting, chewing, or injecting it.

In fact, using this medication intravenously might not only increase the opportunities for overdose, it may also put you at risk of contracting blood-borne pathogens like the Hepatitis and HIV/AIDS viruses.

Apart from the above, you should ensure that you never mix Adderall with any other drug - particularly with another stimulant that could exaggerate the effects of both drugs.

If you mix Adderall with alcohol you may increase the risk of suffering an overdose. This is because alcohol tends to make the cardiovascular side effects arising from amphetamines much worse than they already are.

In the event that your doctor wrote out a prescription for Adderall, you should be careful how you store your pills. This is because other people might easily access them - particularly teens and children. Therefore, you might want to:

  • Keep the pills out of the reach of teens and children by storing them in a medicine cabinet that only you have the key to
  • Safely and properly disposing of any expired drugs by following the regulations developed and outlined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration)

On the other hand, when your doctor prescribes Adderall, you should discuss the following with them:

  • All other herbal supplements, vitamins, and prescription and non-prescription drugs you are taking
  • Current and previous suicidal attempts and thoughts
  • If you are allergic to any medications
  • If you are expecting a child, you plan to get pregnant soon, or you are breastfeeding
  • Your family history, if any, of heart conditions
  • Your history of such medical conditions as kidney disease, liver disease, heart conditions, hypertension, seizures, hyperthyroidism, and glaucoma
  • Your personal and family history of such mental health conditions as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety

Adderall Overdose Treatment

Amphetamine toxicity often presents a variety of symptoms. As such, you might need different medical interventions to address all of them. For instance, if you have a high fever after overdosing on Adderall, the first thing that should be done is to cool your body.

Studies on this kind of overdose has referenced many other treatments, including sedation. On the other hand, benzodiazepines (a class of drugs that is commonly used in the treatment of anxiety) and antipsychotic medications may be used to control psychosis and agitation.

Similarly, the doctor may use beta blockers for cardiovascular symptoms like rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure. These medication work by blocking norepinephrine activity in the brain, which is one of the neurotransmitters that Adderall affects. Research also supports using calcium channel blockers and alpha blocks, which might prove vital in dealing with cardiovascular complications.

In general, Adderall is similar to methamphetamine in its effects. Although there are key differences in the chemistry between meth and amphetamines, both of these drugs cause stimulant effects on the body and the central nervous system - which are eerily similar. Therefore, the treatment for these drugs is analogous.

In conclusion, overdosing on Adderall can be fatal but on rare occasions. Still, if you notice someone overdosing, you should try and stabilize them in a cool and calm environment. Although the hospital setting is the best place where you can get help, you can also try and calm the victim before emergency first responders arrive. In the meantime, you should reassure them and ensure that they do not cause any harm either to themselves or to those around them.

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