Among drug addictions, Adderall addiction is an outlier. People don’t typically abuse Adderall to relax or get high—the drug is typically used to stimulate concentration and enhance productivity.
For this reason, those most likely to abuse Adderall do not match usual “druggie” or “drunk” stereotypes. It’s a drug that is typically prescribed to children who suffer from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and abused by young professionals putting in 80-hour work weeks, college students looking to maintain their high GPAs, people looking to lose weight fast—anyone looking for an “edge” on something that requires energy and focus. However, Adderall resembles other drugs in that it is dangerous, addictive, and possibly lethal.
How Adderall Works
Adderall is the brand name of the drug amphetamine-dextroamphetamine and is intended to increase focus and attention spans. It’s been shown to be hugely effective for kids with attention and focus problems, as well as people who suffer from narcolepsy. It works by boosting the brain’s serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels, which regulate the brain’s motivation and reward pathways.
With increased use, or abuse, of Adderall, the brain’s reward pathways get rewired, which makes the need for more of the drug more frequent and more deeply felt. This is where the drug—as well as other medications like Concerta, Focalin, Vyvanse, and Ritalin—has a high potential for addiction.
Prescriptions for Adderall spiked in the early 2000s, increasing fivefold from 2002 to 2012 alone. Not unlike the opioid epidemic, such an increase in prescriptions being written has led to an increase in abuse of Adderall nationwide. Meanwhile, studies show that even as Adderall prescriptions have leveled off, cases of ER visits as a result of Adderall abuse continue to rise.
Adderall’s Side Effects
Adderall comes in pill form, though two ways that people abuse it are by crushing up the pills and snorting them or dissolving the pills in water and injecting them via syringe. Both methods provide a quicker, more intense “high” but are dangerous, amplifying the side effects and heightening the risk of overdose.
As its chemical name shows, Adderall is an amphetamine, so its side effects are no different from those of most amphetamines. These include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Increased blood pressure
- Loss of appetite
- Sexual dysfunction
Adderall’s Withdrawal Side Effects
The more advanced the addiction to Adderall, the more pronounced the side effects of withdrawal are likely to be. These side effects are not difficult to spot, once one knows what to look for. They include:
- Suicidal thoughts
As this list indicates, the majority of Adderall withdrawal symptoms are emotion-based. This is due to the fact that the brain’s natural production of dopamine has been interrupted by the use of Adderall, causing low moods.
Dependence vs. Addiction
It should be noted that addiction to Adderall doesn’t typically happen if the user is using it as directed by his or her physician. Someone using Adderall as directed could become dependent on the drug, but he or she only becomes addicted when a psychological need develops, causing a person to seek out the drug despite any negative consequences.
Treatment for Adderall Addiction in Nashville
If you or a loved one is struggling with Adderall dependency, we can help. JourneyPure at the River provides unparalleled addiction treatment for men and women that have lost their passion and drive due to drug or alcohol abuse. Call today to speak with an admissions representative.