Most all ADHD meds have one thing in common: they’re amphetamine-based drugs belonging to the schedule II class of narcotic substances. The ones most commonly prescribed include:
Considering how these drugs rely on an amphetamine base to produce their effects, it’s quite possible a connection with meth addiction exists since meth is a powerful amphetamine-based drug. While ADHD meds provide much needed benefit for people affected by attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, they nonetheless carry dangerous side effect risks.
People affected by ADHD experience problems with attention span, hyperactive behavior and impulse control. According to the Journal of Brain and Behavior, abnormal dopamine processes in the brain play a central role in causing these problems.
Among its many effects, dopamine, a major neurotransmitter chemical in the brain, regulates reward system processes, which ultimately determines a person’s belief systems, priorities and motivations. In effect, low levels of dopamine account for much of the dysfunction brought on by ADHD.
In this respect, a very real connection between ADHD meds and meth addiction exists as meth exerts a tremendous effect on the brain’s dopamine production processes, which is no surprise since both drug types belong to the amphetamine drug class.
Factors Linking ADHD Meds with Meth Addiction
Meth’s Calming Effects
For someone affected by ADHD, meth produces the same calming effects as ADHD meds, according to the University of California Davis. As symptoms of ADHD create a certain degree of discomfort in terms of restlessness, frustration and agitation, meth’s ability to calm ADHD symptoms becomes a driving force behind ongoing meth use.
These conditions combined with the the types of impulse control problems that come with ADHD make it all the more difficult for a person to control meth-using behaviors.
Tolerance Level Increases
One of the things that make amphetamines so addictive lies in how the brain’s chemical processes readily adapt to their presence and their effects. People (and children) who’ve taken ADHD meds for long time periods naturally develop a tolerance to the effects of the drug. When this happens, the brain requires increasing dosage amounts to produce the same desired effects.
Much like prescription opiate abuse makes users more susceptible to the lures of heroin, the abuse of ADHD can just as easily drive a person to seek out stronger substances like meth.
Amphetamines as a group carry an incredibly high potential for abuse and addiction. In effect, the long-term use of ADHD meds can drive the compulsive drug-using behaviors that characterize an addiction problem. Once tolerance levels reach a certain point, a near seamless transition to meth addiction can take place as the brain’s “need” for a stronger drug effect develops.
Ultimately, addiction in any form drives users to seek out stronger versions of the drug they’re taking. In this respect, an addiction to ADHD drugs can easily evolve into a meth addiction.
If you’re dealing with an amphetamine abuse problem and need help finding a treatment program, we can help. Call our toll-free helpline at 800-654-0987 to ask about available ADHD or meth addiction treatment options.