Adderall (amphetamine) is a prescription medication used primarily to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is classified as a stimulant that works on the central nervous system. Adderall helps you organize your tasks for the day, improve attention and listening skills, and helps you have better control of your sleeping routine. This medication has a high risk for abuse and can cause addiction, so it’s not recommended for patients with a history of substance use disorder.
What is Adderall?
Adderall is a prescription stimulant medication containing two substances: amphetamine salts and dextroamphetamine. It is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant typically prescribed to patients with narcolepsy and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Since it increases levels of dopamine in your CNS, it’s highly addictive. Adderall is a controlled medication. However, plenty of users develop a tolerance to its effects and, unfortunately, can develop an addiction.
How Does Adderall Work?
Adderall can positively affect the central nervous system, like improving your ability to focus, improving your short-term memory, and increasing certain neurotransmitters in your brain. These neurotransmitters increase activity in your brain and help you function, decide what to focus on, and sort your priorities.
Adderall increases the availability of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help speed up your brain activity, which is why it helps with disorders like ADHD.
Adderall Side Effects
Some of the side effects of Adderall misuse can be similar to sensations we feel in a fight-or-flight situation. Adderall side effects for people who take it without ADHD and are addicted to the medication tend to be severe, even deadly in some cases.
There are some common Aderral side effects:
- Uncontrollable shaking
- Having seizures
- Suddenly fainting
- Having panic attacks
- Slower speech
- Cardiovascular issues
- Panic attacks
Another effect can be constant mood swings. Adderall is often used to feel more sociable, so any withdrawal from the medicine can have an impact on your behavior. It can also affect your sleeping routine, make you feel irritable and tired.
When a person without ADHD takes Adderall, their body receives excess dopamine. This can cause disturbances in how your brain communicates with the rest of your body and contribute to addiction. It can cause brief moments of euphoria instead of having a calming effect. So what happens if you take Adderall or other ADHD medication when you don’t have ADHD? You feel euphoric, and you start chasing that feeling later. That constant chasing can lead to dependence on Adderall.
An increased dosage can turn into an addiction that may require therapy to treat. People who become dependent on Adderall and stop taking it later feel sluggish, hazy, and sad. The brain chemistry changes from constant use and high doses.
Even though some people don’t consider it a dangerous drug, abuse can lead to health issues and withdrawal symptoms that include trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, other drug cravings, and even potentially having suicidal thoughts.
How Does Adderall Work on Patients with ADHD?
ADHD patients have a hard time keeping their attention on one subject at a time and tend to be very dispersive. The amphetamines in the stimulant medication help people who have an ADHD brain condition stay tuned in on conversations and complete tasks.
Adderall helps reduce impulsivity and improves a person’s attention and focus. It also helps maintain the right balance of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, decreasing overall activity in the central nervous system.
Doctors can prescribe Adderall to children if they are diagnosed with ADHD. They can start taking small doses and, with treatment, see if their attention improves. In most cases, early treatment helps them with their condition, and they reach adulthood without any remaining symptoms.
What to Do If Adderall Doesn’t Work
Adderall has proven to be a very effective remedy to ADHD and other brain conditions of that kind. However, it does not work in all cases. There are plenty of reasons why Adderall might not work on a particular patient:
- Incorrect dosage
- Underlying disorders affecting the medication effectiveness
- Misdiagnosed ADHD
- Drug interactions
In any case, if you feel like Adderall treatment is not working for your or someone you know, you need to see a doctor immediately. Keep in mind that 1 in 3 adults with ADHD may not see improvement with standard medications alone. And that 30% of children tend to not respond to stimulants.
Still, Adderall is FDA-approved to treat narcolepsy and ADHD. For people who need the medication, it can be beneficial. Nonetheless, it’s essential to know the risks as it can also increase the risk of addiction. If you struggle with taking more Adderall than prescribed or feel that you rely on Adderall to function correctly, you may be at risk of Adderall addiction. As always, consult with your doctor and consider speaking with an addiction specialist to learn more.