Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), It is classified as a stimulant medication and when used appropriately can help to improve the symptoms of ADHD. Unfortunately, Adderall is also a drug with a high abuse potential and can cause severe side effects that may lead to addiction. With adequate treatment however, many people who abuse Adderall can recover from the disease of addiction.
Adderall is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine and is used to treat symptoms of ADHD in both children and adults. It is not considered a cure for ADHD but can help patients by improving or reducing the severity of symptoms like lack of focus, inattention and excessive physical activity.
Adderall works by increasing levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in certain areas of the brain. This causes stimulation of the Central Nervous System (CNS) which
The number of patients diagnosed with ADHD has dramatically increased since the 1990s and as of 2011, more than 11 percent of all children aged 4 to 17 were diagnosed with ADHD. In many cases, ADHD symptoms decrease as children age but some adults are also affected. Many of these adults experience significant disability and may not have had their disorder recognized when they were children.
Adderall is considered to be a first-line treatment and many doctors prescribe the medication before trying any other drug.
Adderall Prescription Abuse
Adderall is listed as a Schedule II (C-II) controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which indicates that it has a high potential for abuse and may be addicting. Drug abuse is defined as the use of medication for non-medical purposes or in larger doses than prescribed.
As the number of ADHD diagnosis have risen, Adderall has become much more widely available. It is only approved to treat the symptoms of those with ADHD but it has also been used by some people who do not have the disorder. Emergency room visits for stimulant-related events increased more than four-fold from 2005 to 2011 and estimates show that up to one-third of college students have misused prescription stimulants.
In addition to a non-medical use for “increased focus” often by college students, it has also been used as a performance enhancer for sports and recreationally to induce feelings of euphoria. Many of the people who abuse Adderall have gotten the medication from someone else for whom it was prescribed, with or without that patient’s knowledge. People who abuse Adderall for extended periods of time, may become addicted to the medication.
Properly supervised treatment can help those who have become addicted to Adderall.
Side Effects of Adderall
Adderall, like all medications, may cause side effects. When used as prescribed, most of these side effects are mild and may subside over time. Common side effects of Adderall include:
• Loss of appetite
• Change in libido
• Persistent erection or inability to achieve erection
Effects of Adderall Abuse
When used for ADHD symptoms, the risks of Adderall are outweighed by the benefits of the medication but when the medication is used for non-medical reasons, it is likely to be taken in larger doses or more often than it should be. Side effects of Adderall abuse can be more severe and may result in more damaging effects, both physically and psychologically.
Adderall non-medical uses have included
• Use as a study aid to increase focus
• Use in sports activities to enhance performance
• Use as a recreational drug to induce euphoria
• Use as a recreational drug to enhance libido
• Use to decrease sedative effects of other recreational drugs or alcohol
• Use as a weight loss agent
Over time, people who use Adderall may develop tolerance to the medication and require larger doses to achieve the same effect. When taken for non-medical reasons, people may take doses that are much larger than those that are safe
Side effects of high Adderall doses may include
• Abnormal facial movements
• Pupil dilation
• Visual disturbance
• Psychotic behavior
• Irregular or rapid heart rhythm
• High blood pressure or low blood pressure
• Cardiovascular events including heart attack
• Increased body temperature
Though Adderall is not a new drug, few studies have been performed to examine the effects of use lasting longer than a few years or in those who take the medication at high doses. Despite the lack of research, it is known that long-term use of Adderall at high doses can cause damaging side effects. Long-term effects of Adderall abuse may include:
• Excessive weight loss
• Tooth decay or oral disease
• Cardiac damage including cardiomyopathy
• Vascular damage including necrotizing vasculitis from inflammation of blood vessels
Addiction to Adderall
People who take Adderall as prescribed for symptoms of ADHD rarely become addicted. Most cases of addiction occur in those who are abusing the medication. Many people who abuse Adderall take the medication at doses that are much larger than those that are considered safe. Over a period of time, the person may require larger and larger doses of the drug to achieve the desired result.
Most Adderall abuse occurs in younger people. College students are twice as likely to abuse the medication than those who are not in school and the rate of abuse in college is estimated at about 6 percent. Many people with Adderall prescriptions are pressured to give or sell the medication to others.
In addition to taking the medication for non-medical reasons and at larger than normal doses, Adderall is often crushed and nasally inhaled or “snorted” which can increase the absorption rate, leading to a greater sense of euphoria. Over time, nasal inhalation of Adderall can cause severe damage to the sinus cavities.
When Adderall is taken for a long period of time, the brain and body have become used to taking the medication and sudden discontinuation may result in withdrawal symptoms.
Adderall Withdrawal Symptoms
People taking Adderall in small or normal doses are not as likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. Those who take the medication periodically in “binges” may experience short term withdrawal, known as “crashing”. This occurs because the person may have been awake for much longer than normal and may not have eaten for a long period of time.
People who “crash” may experience extreme hunger and fatigue and may sleep for an extended period of time.
Longer term use may result in sustained withdrawal symptoms such as:
• Difficulty sleeping
• Weight gain
• Anxiety or panic attacks
• Suicidal thoughts
People who withdraw from Adderall may also have intense psychological cravings for the drug. Treatment that includes behavioral therapy, group therapy or participation in a 12-step or other support program may help to increase the chance of recovery from Adderall addiction.
Adderall Addiction Treatment
Adderall addiction and symptoms of withdrawal cannot easily be treated with medication but supervised detoxification may be helpful. Adderall addiction treatment usually includes behavioral therapy and support to help patients successfully enter recovery.
Extended recovery programs, along with the development of management plans may help to avoid relapse and can help patients learn to adjust to a drug-free life. As college students are one of the largest groups of Adderall abusers, many health centers on university campuses and other school counselors may be able to help students with Adderall addiction. The first step to treatment and recovery is recognition of the disease. Some people will recognize addiction and self-refer for treatment but even those who must be coerced or even forced can recover with effective treatment.
Adderall is a medication that is a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These central nervous system stimulants impact chemicals in the brain and any nerves that may be affected or contribute to impulse control and hyperactivity. In its most common situations, Adderall is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. However, it may also be used for purposes other than these diagnoses.
Who Should Not Use Adderall
Individuals who have issues like overactive thyroid, severe or moderate high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, heart disease, glaucoma, severe agitation or a history of alcohol or drug addiction should not use Adderall. Individuals who have a history of using an MAO inhibitor in the previous two weeks should not use Adderall as well.
Investigations Exploring Adderall Issues
Some recent investigations into Adderall indicate that this medication may be habit forming. You should never share this medication with someone else particularly any individual who has a history of addiction or drug abuse. Improperly using this medication without a prescription or a doctor’s guidance could lead to serious side effects for the heart or death. If you are allergic to any stimulant medicines, you should also avoid using Adderall. In order to ensure whether or not Adderall is the appropriate medication for your individual condition, inform your physician if you or anyone in your family history has ever had:
- Abnormal brain wave test
- Blood circulation problems in the feet or the hands
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Tourette syndrome or motor ticks
- Mental illness, suicidal thoughts, depression, bipolar disorder or psychosis
Medications like Adderall should be taken exactly as prescribed. If you fail to take this medication properly, you could increase your chances of serious side effects on the heart or increase your risk of death.
You can take this medicine without or with food but it is strongly recommended that you take it first thing in the morning. Drug treatment is not necessarily indicated in all situations where the diagnosis is attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity. The decision to prescribe amphetamines like Adderall depend on the physician’s individual assistant, assessment and the severity and chronicity of a child’s symptoms, as well as appropriateness for the child’s age. An overdose of dextroamphatamine or amphetamine could be fatal.
Adderall may contribute to your ability to react or think and taking note of any side effects is important for notifying your physician. Adderall may also impact growth in children. If you believe that your child is not growing at a normal rate while on this medication, you should contact your doctor immediately. Some of the most common Adderall side effects include:
- Faster heart rate
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach pain
- Feeling nervous
- Mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Sleeping problems
Notwithstanding claims relating to this product, the drug/medical device remains approved by the U.S. FDA.