Adderall is a stimulant drug that is often prescribed to manage attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy (uncontrollable episodes of deep sleep).
Some people abuse Adderall by taking more of it than their doctor recommends. Others, who do not suffer from ADHD or narcolepsy, take it without a valid prescription.
A popular reason for Adderall abuse is the mistaken notion that the drug can improve their brain’s functioning. Some teenagers and college students take Adderall to get better grades. Older adults are often attracted to the drug because they think it can improve their memory.
Unfortunately, these beliefs can cause people to become addicted to Adderall and rely on it to get through the day or perform well at work and school.
Adderall Addiction Signs And Symptoms
As a stimulant, Adderall increases the activity of dopamine and norepinephrine, two brain chemicals. Dopamine is involved in rewarding behaviors. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone that raises blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and blood sugar when it is active.
Taking Adderall gives a person increased energy and a sense of euphoria. Individuals who abuse Adderall may also experience:
- a reduction in blood flow
- increased body temperature
- irregular heartbeat
- heart failure
- stunted growth
- muscle pain
Over time, Adderall abuse can cause an increased tolerance to the drug, meaning that it has less of an effect than before. This leads some people to take higher or more frequent doses, which increases the risk that they will become addicted. High tolerance to Adderall may also indicate addiction.
Other signs that someone is addicted to Adderall include:
- excessive involvement in social activities
- taking on more projects than they can handle
- difficulty in relationships
- financial troubles from buying Adderall
- taking Adderall without a prescription
- multiple prescriptions from different doctors (“doctor shopping”)
- needing Adderall to perform at work or school
How Is Adderall Abused?
Adderall is made up of a blend of amphetamine salts and comes as a tablet or capsule. While many people abuse Adderall orally, some crush the tablet into powder and dissolve it in water for injection. Others may snort or smoke the powder.
These alternative methods of abuse are thought to take the drug into the bloodstream quicker for a stronger, more immediate effect. This is a dangerous practice because the drug is intended to be absorbed via oral consumption, and its effects are unpredictable when it is taken in other ways.
For example, the extended-release form of Adderall (Adderal XR) comes as a capsule with time-release beads inside. If these beads are crushed and ingested, a large amount of the drug hits a person’s system at once, rather than being distributed evenly over time. This poses a high risk of overdose.
Adderall Overdose Risk
Adderall overdose can occur when someone takes too much of the drug at once or takes it too often, raising blood concentration to dangerous levels. This is even more likely when someone takes Adderall with other stimulants, such as Ritalin (methylphenidate) or cocaine.
Symptoms of an Adderall overdose may include:
- muscle pains
- rapid breathing
- muscle weakness
- state of panic
- nausea or vomiting
An Adderall overdose can also result in severe, life-threatening symptoms, such as seizures, heart attack, or coma.
Dangers Of Adderall Abuse
Recognizing the signs of Adderall abuse and addiction can be difficult. Often, the addicted individual seems productive, social, and even happy. They are able to accomplish many things because they do not tire as quickly and are better able to focus.
But the human body and mind can only handle so much. After a time, the person will become exhausted, and their mental functioning will begin to suffer. They may be overwhelmed by all the obligations they felt they could undertake when they first started using Adderall, but they may also feel unable to back out.
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Besides the adverse side effects that may come with Adderall use and abuse, unique risks are associated with alternative methods of abuse.
If someone snorts Adderall, it can damage the delicate blood vessels and tissues inside of their nose, leading to nosebleeds and erosion of the nasal cavity. Smoking Adderall damages the lungs, and injecting it can cause collapsed veins and bacterial infections.
Stimulants are not physically addictive; the body does not develop a dependence on them. However, the brain may start to rely on Adderall to regulate dopamine and norepinephrine and become less efficient at doing so on its own.
These brain changes lead to a craving for the drug and a feeling that the person needs it to function normally. If a person develops an addiction to Adderall and suddenly stops taking it, they may experience psychological withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and depression.
Treatment For Adderall Addiction
It can be challenging for individuals to overcome addiction in their home environment, where they are likely to come into contact with triggers to substance use. Our inpatient rehab program at The Bluffs provides a peaceful and structured environment that supports healing.
Through a holistic and individualized treatment plan, each person learns coping skills and thought patterns that promote a healthy lifestyle. Treatment methods such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), family therapy, and adventure therapy work together to resolve many deep-rooted issues that contribute to addiction.
The option for long-term addiction treatment at The Bluffs ensures that individuals have the time they need to make a lasting change.