Introduction to Adderall
The generic name for Adderall is amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, and it’s classified as a stimulant.
While there are approved medical uses for Adderall, as with so many other prescription drugs, it has a high abuse potential as well. Adderall’s effects, when it’s used recreationally, are similar to cocaine.
The effects are in part due to the increased dopamine levels Adderall creates in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for pleasurable feelings. This can create a reward response in the brain, which can lead to Adderall addiction.
Adderall is a schedule II controlled substance in the U.S., indicating its significant potential to become addictive. This central nervous system stimulant is also the most frequently prescribed amphetamine.
“In 2010 alone, the total number of Adderall prescriptions topped 18 million,” according to Everyday Health.
Many college students take Adderall to stay up late and study. Outside of college, those who work long hours often take it for similar reasons. They feel as if they need something to keep them awake and energized. Adderall, which was originally meant as a drug to treat ADHD or narcolepsy, fits that bill. You’re supposed to have a prescription for it, but most of those who abuse it tend to find other means of acquiring their pills. But without a doctor prescribing them the drug, many users take it without full knowledge of the side effects.
This article is part of our series on substance abuse.
Substance Treatment Options
- Adderall Rehab Options: If someone recognizes they are abusing Adderall or could be addicted to it, there are treatment options available. Someone with an Adderall addiction might opt for inpatient or outpatient rehab, or perhaps a combination of both.
- Adderall Detox: Along with being psychologically addictive, Adderall can lead to a physical dependence as well. Some people may require a supervised detox from the drug, particularly if they’re heavy or long-term users.
- Adderall Residential: Residential treatment for addiction requires patients check into a facility where they stay for a period of time. Residential treatment offers a safe, supportive environment and also removes stresses and triggers that could increase the likelihood of a relapse.
- Adderall Inpatient: Inpatient Adderall rehab is a residential form of treatment. There are short and long-term inpatient rehab programs. Most inpatient addiction treatment programs begin with an onsite medical detox and go from there.
- Adderall PHP (Partial Hospitalization Program): An Adderall PHP can be a form of addiction treatment that someone begins with, or that they move into once they’ve completed inpatient rehab. A PHP is also called day treatment and is the highest level of care outside of a medical detox and inpatient rehab.
- Adderall Outpatient: Outpatient rehab for Adderall doesn’t require the participant to live in a treatment facility. Adderall outpatient rehab offers flexibility, but it might not be the right option for every person struggling with addiction.
- Adderall Treatment Options: Treatment programs for Adderall addiction usually include a combination of individual and group therapy and counseling. Adderall treatment options may also include dual diagnosis care for co-occurring mental health disorders and holistic treatment.
- Types of Adderall Facilities: Adderall facilities include private rehab, government-funded rehab, and non-profit treatment facilities.
When someone uses Adderall, it is speeding up their central nervous system. If someone is diagnosed with ADHD and they take the drug, it tends to help improve their ability to focus and concentrate. It can have the same effect on someone without ADHD, but using it recreationally can be dangerous and can lead to severe side effects.
If someone abuses Adderall outside of how it’s prescribed, without a prescription or without having ADHD they may feel intense focus and concentration. They are also likely to feel euphoria, a false sense of well-being, very confident, and talkative.
Adderall is commonly used by college students and young people as a way to help them study and stay awake for longer.
Adderall causes increases in energy, and it can improve academic performance or performance in other areas.
Adderall side effects include:
- Agitation or restlessness
- Dry mouth
- Changes in vision
- Rapid heartbeat or changes in blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
Adderall can also cause severe effects. For example, seizures can occur. Adderall, particularly when used in large doses, can cause problems with mental health and new or worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety. Adderall can also cause hallucinations or paranoia.
The more someone uses Adderall, and the longer they take it, the more likely severe or deadly effects are to occur. For example, heart attack and stroke can occur. If a person combines Adderall and alcohol, the likelihood of heart problems is even greater.
Overcoming Adderall Abuse
The main problem with Adderall addiction—or any drug addiction, for that matter—lies in the “when.” Most people tend to seek help when they hit rock bottom. But when “rock bottom” might easily mean death, how long should you actually wait? Well, if you’ve identified any of your own behaviors in the section above, the time is now. Why wait until addiction destroys your health, your career, and your relationships? The consequences may have been mild up to now, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get worse over time. It’s best to seek solutions as soon as possible.
Anyone who wishes to enter treatment at Amethyst Recovery will be given access to our free verification and referral program. First, we assess potential clients to ensure that their concerns are justified. If they indeed struggle with addiction, we then talk about insurance. Amethyst accepts numerous major insurance providers, so most patients should be alright. But if for some reason they are unable to attend Amethyst, we can find other options. Our referral program ensures that patients unable to attend our programs might still find help elsewhere. At the end of the day, recovery is what matters most to us, no matter where it is achieved.
Those who do enter our programs will receive everything they need to learn the joys of sobriety. First, they’ll enter detox to overcome their physical cravings. Then, they’ll receive counseling from our well-trained and experienced staff. Through counseling, our patients learn to see how addiction hurts them. They also learn to form a relapse prevention plan, for those times when life throws us a curve ball in sobriety. Aside from behavioral therapy, they’ll be given the chance to socialize with other patients and go on monthly adventures. This teaches them that sobriety can be enjoyable. We suffered enough in addiction. There’s no need to suffer now that we’ve finally begun seeking a solution.
Anyone with more specific questions regarding Adderall addiction and treatment should contact us today. Many think of Adderall as a harmless or even useful drug. But just like any other controlled substance, abuse of this drug can ruin lives in a heartbeat. There’s no need to let it happen to you. Help is available. All you need to do is seek it out. It might not be easy to make that decision, but it’s definitely easier than living with addiction. You owe it to yourself to stop abusing Adderall and give yourself another chance at life.
One potential sign of Adderall addiction has already been suggested above. If you take this drug for reasons other than narcolepsy or ADHD, you might have a problem. The same holds true for anyone who must acquire their pills through illegal channels because their doctor will not write them a prescription. Anyone who believes they have a good reason to take Adderall should consult their physician on the matter. But those who are simply taking it to stay awake might be better off buying a coffee machine. It’s a much cheaper—and significantly less dangerous—alternative.
Those who ignore their medical history when taking Adderall should also beware. Anyone with glaucoma, heart disease, high blood pressure or an overactive thyroid puts themselves at risk when taking this medication. If people ignore these conditions for the sole purpose of abusing a drug, it is likely that they suffer from addiction. The same is true of those who ignore warnings not to take Adderall within two weeks of taking any MAO inhibitor. This combination often proves highly dangerous, and those who ignore such warnings prove to be quite reckless with their use. Recklessness tends to go hand in hand with addiction.
The above issues comprise only a small sample of the entire list. Other conditions that prevent patients from using stimulants include depression, anxiety, severe agitation, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and most major mental illnesses. First of all, those who take Adderall despite these conditions may put themselves at risk of sudden death. Secondly, many of these issues—such as anxiety and depression—happen to be common co-occurring disorders of drug addiction. Not only is it reckless to take stimulants when suffering these issues, but those with mental conditions listed above may actually be at greater risk of developing chronic substance abuse problems.
Aside from these specific issues, most signs of addiction are the same for Adderall as for any other drug. If people who abuse this stimulant find themselves breaking the bank to get it, or jeopardizing important responsibilities in order to use, then they likely suffer from addiction. When Adderall use begins interfering with work, school or relationships, be on the lookout for addictive tendencies. And if you find that you can’t seem to function without a fix, then addiction is almost definitely at play. Never shrug off these warning signs. Recognize them early on, and you’ll find it much easier to turn things around.
This article is part of our series on substance abuse.
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
Adderall can be habit-forming not only regarding psychological addiction but also physically. When someone uses Adderall for a period of time, their body and the central nervous system can become dependent on it. As the person tries to stop using Adderall, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur.
There are two different scenarios to be aware of in this situation. Adderall can cause a crash that someone experiences as the effects of the drug wear off. These aren’t necessarily the same as withdrawal symptoms that occur as the result of physical dependence.
Symptoms of Adderall Use in Friends and Family
When someone is abusing Adderall, they can quickly move into an area that might be diagnosed as an addiction.
Some possible signs of Adderall addiction can include:
- Continuing to use Adderall even when there are negative health effects—as an example, dangerous weight loss or ongoing insomnia
- Feeling like it’s difficult to function or perform properly without the use of Adderall
- The use of Adderall becomes a top priority, as does the need to obtain more
- There is a significant focus on maintaining a “stash” of Adderall
- Other responsibilities and interests take a backseat
- Putting oneself in danger while high on Adderall, or to get more
Addiction is a diagnosable condition. If someone believes they have a problem with Adderall or their loved one does, a medical professional or addiction professional can look at certain symptoms and make a diagnosis.
The most common side effects of this stimulant include headache, dizziness, dry mouth, loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach pain, increased heart rate, insomnia, nervousness and sudden mood changes. It’s worth noting, however, that this list is not complete. These are the symptoms most commonly associated with the drug, but users may definitely experience others as well. Increased heart rate should be monitored, given the drug’s potential to harm those who suffer from cardiovascular defects. Loss of appetite might also prove dangerous when this drug is taken by those who suffer from eating disorders. One should never take prescription medications solely for the side effect of weight loss. There are better ways to lose weight.
Less common side effects include tenderness and unexplained muscle pain, as well as muscular tics/twitches. In worse cases, patients can also experience convulsions. Those who take Adderall may also find that their urine is darker in color. Some users may experience changes in their field of vision, and may even suffer hallucinations. Others might experience chest pain, and may have trouble breathing. This may occur to the extent that they feel at risk of passing out. Some patients exhibit behavioral issues such as hostility or paranoia. Other less common symptoms include skin color changes to fingers and toes, pain, numbness, unexplained wounds and a feeling of cold.
It is possible to overdose on Adderall. In these cases, the user might experience several various symptoms. These include hallucinations, confusion, aggression, panic, muscle pain, muscular twitches, restlessness, weakness, tremors, and dark urine. Note that many of these are among the side effects of general use. Overdose symptoms less commonly associated with general use include seizures, stomach pain, and a feeling of light-headedness. Users who overdose may also experience nausea and vomiting, uneven heartbeats and fainting. Some may even wind up in a coma. In the worst cases, sudden death may occur. Those who survive their overdose without succumbing to death or coma may experience weariness and depression when all is said and done.
Those who abuse Adderall with alcohol or other drugs increase the likelihood of these symptoms. They also increase the risk of coma or sudden death. If you are taking Adderall without a prescription and are experiencing these symptoms, then you should halt your use right now. And if you find quitting to be difficult, then you may need to take the advice below.
This article is part of our series on substance abuse.